Conducted by Merlin Dillon, Area Extension Agent, Agronomy
New wheat and barley varieties are developed each year by both public and private breeders. These new varieties and experimental lines are screened for adaptability to this unique environment in small plot, replicated field trials. The trials are center pivot irrigated located either at the Research Center or on neighboring farmer fields.
The variety testing program tested an Idaho experimental wheat variety for 5 years prior to its release. This data was made available to growers and hastened the adoption of the new variety. Now, almost 100 % of the soft white spring wheat is planted to that variety, Centennial. In years such as 2000 when both the wheat acreage and price is low, the impact is about $144,000 in added income to area growers. In recent years when both the acreage and price were higher, the impact was as much as $650,000. For each grower center pivot of 125 acres, the improved variety increases grower income by about $1500.
Malt barley growers recently switched from Moravian 3 to Moravian 14. These are both Coors-developed varieties. Moravian 14 was tested in the barley variety trials for 6 years and showed a 25 bu/acre advantage compared to Moravian 3. Within two years of its release, almost all of the Coors acreage was planted to Moravian 14. The area barley average increased from 105 bu/ac to 133 bu/ac in two years. An average growers income increased about $72/acre or about $38,000. Based on the acreage planted, this variety directly added $2.9 million to the area economy.
Field research results are printed and made available to growers at the annual Potato/Grain Conference held in February each year.