Since 2012, the Michigan Wheat Program has been funding high-management wheat plots as part of the Michigan State University Wheat Performance Trials. Results are in for crop years 2013-2023. Wheat farmers will certainly want to review the results, as trends are emerging that favor high-management production.
MSU trials. The MSU wheat research team has planted wheat varietal trial plots for over 30 years. In 2023, the high-management trials were harvested at seven farms, with the Hillman farm suffering too much weather-related damage to harvest. Test sites are located on private farmland in Huron, Isabella, Monroe, Sanilac and Tuscola – as well as two University sites in Ingham County.
In 2023, 69 commercial wheat varieties were evaluated, that had been developed by 11 different organizations.
Two of the sites offer side-by-side comparison of conventional vs. high-management production: The Hauck farm in Isabella County and at MSU’s Saginaw Valley Research & Extension Center in Tuscola County.
Varietal trials provide the opportunity to compare data on dozens of varieties on multiple sites, which may have experienced different weather conditions.
Definition of high management. High-management trials included an additional 30 pounds of 28 percent nitrogen per acre; Delaro fungicide was applied at Feekes stage 6; and Prosaro® to control fungal diseases at about the average flowering date in each location.
After 11 years, the Michigan Wheat Program-funded high-management trials indicate generally positive results from this production approach. In the 2023 side-by-side trials, 64 of the test varieties showed increased yields under high management at the SVREC site; and 57 varieties at the Isabella County site had increased yield under high management. The average increase under high-management practices was 7.8 more bu./acre at SVREC and 5.7 bu./acre more in Isabella County.
Farmers should review full data contained in the following reports filed by MSU wheat breeder Dr. Eric Olson and MSU wheat specialist Dennis Pennington.
Note: MSU and the Michigan Wheat Program caution that three years of data should be reviewed to get a more complete picture of research results. Farmers also must weigh their own input costs under high-management against the apparent improved performance to make the most economically-feasible choice for their farm.
The reports below for each year are either for only the commercially-available seed lines, or for both commercial and experimental wheat varieties.
Research by Dr. Eric Olson and Dennis Pennington
2022 Report: 2022 High-Management Testing of Michigan Wheat Varieties
This report covers the 11th year of the high-management component of the Michigan State University Wheat Performance Trials, which are coordinated by MSU wheat breeder Dr. Olson and MSU wheat systems educator Pennington and funded by the Michigan Wheat Program.
In the 2021-2022 production year, 125 commercially available and experimental lines were tested under the now-traditional high-management wheat protocols. This includes three additional crop inputs during the season: Additional nitrogen in spring, and two spring fungicide applications.
The research team has concluded that in general wheat will respond to these higher levels of management, but not every variety. Producers should check whether a particular wheat variety will respond to high management treatments before implementing the additional inputs.
The 2021-2022 high-management research trials took place in seven Michigan counties, including side-by-side trials in two counties. This project will be ongoing. As new wheat varieties are released they must be tested for their response to high-management practices, the team noted.
Click below to review the 2022 final written report on this project.