Winter wheat varieties are available with good adaptation to all production areas in Western Canada. When selecting a variety that is best suited for your farming operation, important traits to consider include: winter hardiness, disease resistance, yield potential, market opportunities, and lodging resistance.
The winter hardiness ratings of most winter wheat varieties registered in Western Canada are good to excellent. Producers who farm in areas of the Prairies outside the Chinook belt should be particularly vigilant in selecting a variety with good winter hardiness. Also, if recommended seeding practices are compromised, such as late seeding or seeding into inadequate stubble, the winter hardiness of a variety can become a critical trait in that crop’s success. Properly managed winter wheat on the Canadian Prairies has similar winter survival to winter wheat in Kansas, the largest winter wheat growing state in the United States.
Resistance to diseases common to your area and/or farming practices is another important consideration when deciding on a winter wheat variety. If you are in an area that commonly struggles with rusts, there are varieties that provide resistance to stem, stripe, and leaf rust. If wheat streak mosaic virus is a concern due to past occurrence or tight wheat rotations, there are other varieties available with resistance to the wheat curl mite, the vector of this disease. Producers in areas where Fusarium Head Blight (FHB) is an issue should also be aware that, although winter wheat can avoid this disease in many years, there are varieties that offer genetic resistance.
Yield potential of each variety is influenced by management practices and growing regions of Western Canada. Each of the Prairie Provinces publishes variety guides comparing yields and other traits according to soil climatic zones. These guides are useful resources and should be referred to before purchasing your winter wheat variety. The University of Saskatchewan has also created a variety selection tool based primarily on yield potential.
Discussions with experienced local winter wheat producers and/or our Western Winter Wheat Initiative agronomists can provide good insight into which varieties may be best suited to your location.
In high-moisture areas, including irrigation, lodging resistance can be a major issue. There are varieties available for areas concerned with straw length, lodging, and plant height.