Variety Selection Tool: New ratings help growers with variety decisions

Field of green wheat.

This month the WSU Variety Selection Tool was freshly updated with the newest yield and rating data available for all classes of wheat and barley. A number of new ratings and information have been added as well that growers may find useful, which are covered in this article.

To start, with the help of Dr. Kim Campbell, the program has begun screening spring wheat lines for cold tolerance. This is of particular interest in the basin where fall planted hard red spring wheat is becoming more common and cold tolerance is still largely unknown for many varieties. In February of 2022, a cold snap provided some excellent comparisons among varieties at the fall planted variety trial in Mattawa, Washington. In this particular scenario, SY Gunsight showed no visible leaf damage and was identical to the hard red winter wheat check WB4303. AP Venom, AP Renegade, and WB9662 all showed minor leaf damage while WB9668 showed severe leaf burn back, though eventually recovered.

The tool also now has aluminum tolerance ratings for winter wheat in addition to spring wheat, courtesy of Dr. Mike Pumphrey’s breeding program. This is an important trait, particularly in the higher rainfall zones where soil pH is routinely coming in below 5.5 and even below 5.0 in many cases. Of the soft white winter wheat varieties screened in 2022, Castella, Stingray CL+ and LCS Jefe came in as the most tolerant, while WB4303 and Scorpio came in as the most tolerant hard red winter varieties.

2022 also provided numerous opportunities to collect lodging notes on winter trials and those have been distilled down into new ratings for most varieties. There have been a number of years since conditions were conducive to generate these ratings, which has filled in a major gap in our rating portfolio of varieties. Similarly, we were able to build on to last years’ emergence ratings to better refine those for varieties planted in the low rainfall regions of Eastern Washington. The WSU experimental line WA8362 has really excelled in these ratings, exceeding even the current, most reliable emerging varieties such as Otto, Devote, Mela CL+, and Curiosity CL+.

Those interested in spring barley can also expect to see some changes. The tool has combined malt and feed barleys given that new malt varieties now typically yield as good or better than current feed varieties in order to provide easier comparisons among all varieties for yield. We have also added ratings for Hessian fly resistance and lodging for spring barley.

Lastly, all varieties will now include additional information on year of release, developer, seed class availability, and pedigree. Users can find this information by simply clicking on any individual variety in the tool to bring up its summary page.

Clark Neely professional headshot.

For questions or comments, contact Clark Neely via email at or mobile phone at (814) 571-5628.