Twenty varieties were reviewed in the field at the Pratt County Wheat Plot Tour May 16 in Pratt County.

The sky was overcast, the wind was blowing and Pratt County was in a tornado watch but that didn't stop the Kansas State University Extension Wheat Plot Tour Tuesday at the David and Jesse Blasi farm.

The tour drew 56 producers as well as representatives from seed companies. Representing K-State Extension were A.J. Foster, Southwest Area Agronomy Specialist out of Garden City describing variety and crop prospects and Erick DeWolf, KSU Extension plant pathologist discussing disease and insect issues with each variety.

The wheat plot featured 20 varieties that were all planted on Oct. 11, 2016. Each plot had the same fertilizer and moisture.

Each variety of wheat has its own traits for stand ability, producing a tall stem and straw strength, tolerance for disease, seed production, drought and freeze tolerance, early and late maturing, acidity tolerance, grazing potential, test weight, need of a fungicide, dry land or irrigated land, heat and cold tolerance,

Among the varieties, each had their own strengths and weaknesses. DeWolf said Monument had a good disease package and would be on his short list to consider planting.

Crop and risk management is an important factor in crop production. Each producer has to determine how they can take advantage of each variety and do what needs to be done, said Foster who favors wheat variety that have good stand ability. A better standing field means harvest can go faster and Foster said he likes to go fast. He likes KanMark, T 158 and WB Grainfield for their strong straw.

He said one of the reasons he likes variety LCS Chrome was that it had excellent straw strength and stood up well. Foster also likes T 158 as a top yield variety.

John Fenderson, technical product manager in the southern plains for WestBend, said WB 4303 had incredible straw strength and produced a big seed. He liked DoubleStuff and WB4458 for grazing.

He has noticed a trend among producers to look for varieties that break dormancy later to avoid a late freeze.

"Farmers are migrating away from varieties that break dormancy early," Fenderson said. "We have lost more yield to freeze then drought."

The 2017 wheat crop has a long way to go before it gets into the bin. A late season heavy snow fall in western Kansas damaged the crop with broken and bent stalks but some is recovering, DeWolf said.

On some stems that were broken over, the ends are bending up so producers will have to wait to learn the full extent of the damage. The same is true for the late freeze in north central Kansas. The freeze hit at flowering time and some plants will have no seed and others will reduced grain. Again, producers will just have to wait and see.

Locally, there has been some stripe rust but many producers sprayed for it and got good control. In west central Kansas, producers are dealing with wheat streak mosaic. It is so wide spread that its hard to find an area that has not been effected.

The impact of a freeze on April 27 is still being ascertained. There was a long dry spell but there has been good moisture in April. The wheat varieties have responded well with good growth and head production, DeWolf said.

But as always, producers will have to wait until harvest is over to lean which varieties are the best performers for 2017 in Pratt County.

Mark Ploger, Pratt County Extension agent, said with the tall wheat, another heavy rain could cause wheat to go down. But if the area gets normal weather and the temperature comes up, Pratt County could have a good yield year.

The wheat varieties in the test plot all look good. The final result depends on the weather and crop management.

The 20 wheat varieties in the plot were: Bently, Doublestop CL, Endurance, Gallagher, AP 503 CL2, SY Monument, KanMark, Zenda, T 158, LCS Mint, LCS Pistol, LCS Wizard, WB 4303, WB 4458, WB 4515, WB Cedar, WB Grainfield, WB Redhawk and Winterhawk.

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