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A Spring Update from the Variety Testing Program with Dr. Clark Neely

Posted by Blythe Howell | February 7, 2022

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Episode Transcription:

Drew Lyon: Hello. Welcome to the WSU Wheat Beat podcast. I’m your host, Drew Lyon, and I want to thank you for joining me as we explore the world of small grains production and research at Washington State University. In each episode, I speak with researchers from WSU and the USDA-ARS to provide you with insights into the latest research on wheat and barley production. If you enjoy the WSU Wheat Beat podcast do us a favor and subscribe on iTunes or your favorite podcast app and leave us a review so others can find the show too.

[ Music ]

Drew Lyon: My guest today is Dr. Clark Neely, Clark is an extension agronomist and the lead for the WSU Extension Cereal Variety Testing Program. He is based in Pullman with the Crop and Soil Sciences department. His originally from south central Pennsylvania and received degrees from Penn State, University of Idaho and Texas A&M University. He worked for six years at Texas A&M as the statewide small grains and cool season oilseed extension specialist. Before coming to WSU in 2019, his current research program is built around the variety testing program, with funded projects looking at the impact that wheat varieties have on soil microbial recruitment in the rhizosphere and possible wheat parallel impacts on subsequent canola production. Hello, Clark.

Dr. Clark Neely: Hi, Drew.

Drew Lyon: So, can you give us a brief update on your trials from 2021 and any trends you may have noticed?

Dr. Clark Neely: Sure. Most folks are probably aware it was a mite dry in 2021, and likewise our yields were down pretty much across the board. Winter wheat trials are averaging about 30 to 50% lower where they were in 2020. Granted, 2020 was a phenomenal year. Test weights also were down pretty much across the board. Spring trials probably got hit worse, as you would imagine with the heat and the drought that we had. We ranged anywhere from about 15 to 88% lower in 2021 compared to 2020. Test weights also were roughly about 2 pounds per bushel less on the spring wheat. So that was kind of the big story. There were a few few bright spots on the winter trials. We managed to top 100 bushels at Farmington, St. John, and Lamont so we had 3 sites that still did reasonably well compared to what you would expect. Bickleton, not surprising, was our lowest. We topped at about 20 to 22 bushels there. On the spring side of things, our lowest rainfall sites Lind, Bickleton, Horse Heaven, they all topped out at about 13 or 14 bushels, so they were struggling. On the high-end for the springs, Farmington, Palouse for our best dryland sites and they topped out about 50 bushel.

Drew Lyon: Okay, so a very challenging year. And, as growers know, it is a very challenging year, not only for them but for the variety testing program as well. So were there any new entries in 2021 and how did they perform?

Dr. Clark Neely: Sure. I’ll kind of I’ve got my notes here with me, so don’t miss anything. So in the soft white winter trials, we didn’t technically have any “new varieties”, but we had some expanding into other precipitation zones that we hadn’t tested in previously. So some of those include AP Exceed, VI Presto CL+. We had previously tested those in low rainfall. We started testing those in high rainfall in 2021, along with irrigated VI Voodoo CL+ was the opposite. We attest to that in high rainfall and then we expanded that into the low rainfall. PNW Hailey, that had been in the trials for a couple of years and it came out, we put that back in this year. LCS Shine, which we’ve tested for a number of years, we tested that in irrigated sites. ARS-Selbu 2.0 is basically a reselection from Selbu, which was last tested in the trial, I think, back in 2017. So that’s something we kind of new. And in some newer material that I’ll just mention that I know folks are really interested in are some of the new University of Idaho and WSU material coming out Piranha CL+, Sockeye CL+, the VI Presto CL+ and VI Voodoo CL+. So four relatively new Clearfield varieties that have only been out out two years or so, they’ve been in the trials maybe three years as experimentals, but they’ve all done phenomenally well. And so growers don’t really have to settle for that yield drag if they want to Clearfield varieties because anymore, you know, a lot of these are topping the trial. And so they’ve really kind of taken the Clearfield varieties to the next level. So that’s kind of worth worth mentioning. That’s the soft white winter wheat trials. On the hard red winter wheat side we did have some brand new entries: Battle AX, Canvas, AP18 AX, LCS Fusion AX. Battles was submitted by Montek. Canvas is a Colorado State variety. AP18 AX that’s an AgriPro and then obviously LCS Fusion, that’s a Limagrain. Those are all new on our dryland precip zones. Millie, Whistler — Whistler and Guardian, hose are also Colorado State. They were added to the low rainfall, and Canvas and Battle AX were added to the irrigated zones, as well. As far as how they perform, most of them actually did, with the exception LCS Fusion, that one kind of fell flat. It didn’t do terribly well in ’21, but most of the rest of them did at least average. In a lot of cases, they did well above average, so some of the newer material did pretty well in 2021. Granted, you take that with a grain of salt based on the conditions that we had, but most of those are back in the trial for 2022. So it’ll be interesting to see how they how they do. Also, interestingly, a lot of these, like the Guardian and the Canvas, had phenomenal test weight despite the tough conditions. They were as good or in some cases better than Keldin, which typically is our best test weight in the trial. So really strong test weights there. On the spring side, UI Cookie, UI Stone or University of Idaho ones we tested for the first time last year. They generally did around or maybe a couple of bushels below average in most of our dryland sites. Cookie had about average test weight. Stone was about 1 pound per bushel better, so it had better test weight. I will mention both of those, probably their strengths were under the irrigated sites. They did very well under irrigation. And then another one worth mentioning on the soft wheat spring side is Westbred entered WB6211 CLP, which is replacing 1035 CL+, and it did below it did about one or 123 bushels below average, I would say. Which is still probably better than 1035 CL+. But a couple of others, just to mention it, remind a Hedge CL+ is the new spring club that Mike released that has the Clearfield trait, so that’s the first spring club with Clearfield. I think that was named last year. And then there’s another one coming that I think Mike’s going to name this year. It’s experimental WA 8325, and that’ll be the first spring club wheat that has hessian fly resistance, so that’s going to be another feather in his cap. And then on lastly, on the hard red spring side, Lanning is a Montana State University release, and it was about two or three bushels below the trial average, pretty much everywhere, except for Almira. The only other thing to mention a hard red spring side, Mike’s got some really good experimental stuff coming forward that’s done well in the trial, WA 8315 he has named. So moving forward will refer to that one as Hale, H-A-L-E. And it has really been — it’s leading the trial in the multi-year averages and basically every precipitation zone. And the other kind of unique thing about that is compared to all the other WSU material out there, it’s got a little like half step better protein. Even though it’s higher yielding, it still maintains a little bit better protein than other ones, which any time you ever plot yield and protein together, it’s always a pretty direct negative relationship. So any time you can get higher protein with higher yield is a good thing.

Drew Lyon: So you mentioned earlier that you have to take the data from 2021 with a grain of salt. How do you recommend growers look at the data from this year and make decisions? Do they — Well, what’s your recommendation there?

Dr. Clark Neely: I think you just need to look at all the data that’s available. You know, don’t look at one site or one year and make your decision just on that if you if at all possible.

Drew Lyon: It’s kinda interesting that because like you said, 2020 was a fantastic year and then 2021 was a miserable year. [ chuckles ] And so on average. Are they good? Or should you go back even before 2020? Did it get some more normal type years in there?

Dr. Clark Neely: Yeah. Yeah. Well, like I said, the more data, the better.

Drew Lyon: Okay, and the tool on the website or that on your website, you give one to five year averages if they have that much data? Is that correct?

Dr. Clark Neely: Yeah, yeah. Currently, yeah, the– whether you are look at the yield tables, the PDFs that we produce, or the variety selection tool, you have one, two, three and five year averages to look at if available.

Drew Lyon: Okay. So the more, the more years, the better.

Dr. Clark Neely: Yeah.

Drew Lyon: All right. Any other varieties that stood out, or maybe because they were really good or really poor in 2021?

Dr. Clark Neely: Yeah, I’ll mention a few here. I already talked about the Clearfield lines that really stood out and like Piranha, Sockeye, Voodoo, Presto, they all continue to do pretty well in 2021. Other ones in the high rainfall LCS Artdeco, which has kind of been a long time standard in high rainfall, it continue to do pretty well. PNW Hailey, AP Iliad, SY Dayton, they were all kind of in the top ten for the high rainfall zones. Stingray CL+, Jasper, Norwest Duet, LCS Shine, AP Exceed had really strong showings in at least one of our higher rainfall zones. As far as, like anomalies, the two that really stand out would be LCS Drive and Norwest Tandem. Dry — Both of those are shorter and more importantly, earlier maturing varieties, and I think the heat and the drought really favored them this particular year. Whereas normally LCS Drive is almost always towards the bottom of the trial here. Now it does fairly well, I think, in Oregon, but it had a particularly good year in the high rainfall. Norwest Tandem, I wouldn’t say it’s a bad variety. It’s usually closer to the middle of the pack for yield, but this year we were seeing it closer to the top.

Drew Lyon: Okay, I have to ask any CoAxium wheats in your variety trials yet?

Dr. Clark Neely: Yeah, yes. And I was going to get to that kind of at the end, but I can talk about it now. So I’ve already mentioned a few like the Battle AX, AP18 AX, and Fusion AX. If it has an AX, that means it’s a CoAxium wheat, which means that it is — You can apply Aggressor herbicide, which is the same active ingredient as Assure II, which is ACCase.

Drew Lyon: It’s quizalofop, is the active ingredient.

Dr. Clark Neely: Yes. So that that trait is, basically it was derived in a similar manner as Clearfield. Now don’t confuse the two. You can’t apply Beyond on CoAxium, but that just means that it was is not GMO. Breeders found the trait, selected for it in a natural population. And so it’s supposed to be an option for grassy weed control post to merge in wheat. So to date, we’ve started testing that material in our hard red winter wheat trials. This 2022 would be the first year we have any CoAxium material in our soft white winter wheat trial, and that would be, I think, Arron Carter submitted four WSU experimental lines.

Drew Lyon: Okay.

Dr. Clark Neely: We don’t have any named varieties yet. However, looking forward, I fully expect for next year, fall of 2022, will probably be planting some material from for sure Limagrain and quite possibly Oregon State as well.

Drew Lyon: Okay, very good. Anything else new in the trials this year or coming up, going to happen later this year?

Dr. Clark Neely: I’m trying to think… as far as like new changes for the program. I’ll put my plug in again for the mobile app. That’s not something coming up, but something that happened in 2021. We released a mobile app for Variety selection tool in May, just to remind all of your listeners about that. A couple of other things that we’ve we started doing that are new, which listeners may not know about is in 2021, we started conducting fall planted hard red spring trials. That’s become more popular out in the Basin under irrigation. And so we thought it was time we started testing some of the spring material in that manner. So we had sites for the first time at Moses Lake and Pasco. AP Venom kind of stood out there as the numerically the highest yielding and actually beat out the hard red winter wheat checked by five bushels.

Drew Lyon: Wow.

Dr. Clark Neely: So had pretty good success there. And in 2022, so the current year, we also added a dryland site at Dayton.

Drew Lyon: Okay.

Dr. Clark Neely: So be on the lookout for that. We’re going to add– if you use the Variety Selection Tool, we’re going to start adding some more traits to different classes of wheat. So we currently do aluminum tolerance ratings for our spring wheat. We’re going to start doing that for the winter wheat as well, though. And Mike Pumphrey is the one that does most that screening at a site in eastern Washington. So we’ll add that for the winter wheat. Cold tolerance ratings — Kim Campbell’s group currently does that for the winter wheat, but because they’re starting to do these fall plant, it’s spring wheat trials, that’s a major question for some of those growers out there is whether those these spring wheats will handle the winter. So she agreed to start testing some of the spring wheats for cold tolerance for us. 2020 year turned out to be a pretty good year for snow mold rating and emergence. And so we’ve updated ratings. We’ve got more data, more comprehensive data set for those. Um, let’s see. We talked about the CoAxium stuff coming. I’ll briefly mentioned that we will likely in some capacity try to continue to do the virtual field day recordings. You know, in 2020 that we had to convert fully over to virtual field days, we couldn’t do anything in-person. And this past year we were able to do stuff in-person, but I did manage to do some virtual as well. We may scale that back some, but I think we’ll continue to try to do some video recordings so growers that can’t make it to field days in-person have another outlet that they can use some of the information. And then lastly, I’m hoping to integrate UAV’s into my program moving forward, hopefully sometime in 2022. And I think that will really, you know, hopefully I don’t bite off more than I can chew. But I think ultimately that could really help, either with additional data or accuracy of data, whether it be, you know, taking emergence notes or, you know, getting just fall vigor, or it may help with plant high or certain disease ratings. So I’m excited to see how that integrates into my program.

Drew Lyon: Well, you have a lot of data there that actually quite a few new things coming along, so I think our listeners should be paying attention to what’s going on in your program and where where can they go to to learn more about what you do?

Dr. Clark Neely: They can go to the Small Grains, a cereal extension website which is smallgrains.wsu.du and look under the Variety Section of that.

Drew Lyon: Yeah, variety testing.

Dr. Clark Neely: Yeah. Yeah.

Drew Lyon: All right. Well, Clark, thanks for joining us today and sharing what’s going on in the program went on last year and what people can look forward to in the coming year.

Dr. Clark Neely: Alright. Thanks, Drew.

[ Music ]

Drew Lyon: Thanks for joining us and listening to the WSU Wheat Beat podcast. If you like what you hear don’t forget to subscribe and leave a review on iTunes or your favorite podcast app. If you have questions or topics, you’d like to hear on future episodes please email me at drew.lyon — that’s — ( You can find us online at and on Facebook and Twitter @WSUSmallGrains. The WSU Wheat Beat podcast is a production of CAHNRS Communications and the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences at Washington State University. I’m Drew Lyon, we’ll see you next time.

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed by guests of this podcast are their own and does not imply Washington State University’s endorsement.

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