Fifteen new varieties have been added to the annual list that ranks wheat quality for growers and seed dealers.
Usually five or six varieties are added each year, said Doug Engle, manager of the USDA Western Wheat Quality Laboratory in Pullman, Wash.
The laboratory, the Idaho and Oregon wheat commissions and the Washington Grain Commission distribute the Preferred Wheat Varieties brochure.
The brochure assigns a ranking to each wheat variety — most desirable, desirable, acceptable and least desirable.
Of the 107 varieties listed, 52 received a most-desirable ranking.
Overall quality is the deciding factor, industry officials say.
“If you’re looking at choices of varieties, and you have a couple that have comparable agronomics, comparable yields, choose the one with the better quality,” said Glen Squires, CEO of the Washington commission. “That will just increase the overall quality of the crop.”
Mike Pumphrey, a spring wheat breeder at Washington State University, said the brochure is also a good guideline for breeders.
“I want my line to be on there with a desirable or most-desirable quality, so that the industry sees we’re doing our best to maintain the market share based on quality and production factors,” he said.
Farmers and seed managers pay attention to the brochure, Engel said.
Varieties don’t move up or down on the list, he said. The brochure uses all cumulative information on a variety.
Every three years, Engle polls the three state wheat organizations and removes varieties that don’t have significant acreage to make room for the new ones.
Pumphrey said growers see the long-term need to maintain a high-quality product.
“I often am surprised how much they value quality, considering it’s something they’re not overtly paid for any given crop year,” he said. “There’s been many times I’ve heard a farmer say, ‘Yeah, but I don’t like the quality of that line.’ That’s a tall order, when someone might be looking past bottom-line economics in one given year to say, ‘I don’t like the quality of that line and what it might do to us long-term.’”
A new category was added this year: Unacceptable Except Customer-Specific Uses, or UCS, for varieties that might perform well in a specific product, but should be segregated from general commercial channels, according to the brochure.
“If a mill wants to source that wheat, more power to them,” Engle said. “There’s a home for everything if you just look hard enough.”
WestBred soft white spring wheat WB-1035CL+, Arizona Plant Breeders hard white spring wheat BR7030 and three hard red winter wheats, Residence and Estica from Cebeco and Symphony from Tanio Tech, have the UCS ranking.
Following are the new wheat varieties added to the Preferred Wheat Varieties brochure:
• LCS Drive
• UI Sparrow
• Norwest Duet
• SY Assure
• LCS Evina
• LCS Jet
• SY Steelhead
• LCS Luna
• LCS Iron