The availability of certified seed wheat is usually as reliable as bread on the shelves at the local grocery store. Following the short harvest, however, wheat farmers like Gary Millershaski near Lakin are finding sourcing the specific varieties of certified seed wheat more difficult and costly than taking a quick trip down to pick up the bags they need. Producers need to think creatively and use their available resources to secure quality seed wheat that will help make next year’s wheat harvest.
“I try to plant all certified seed because we invest a lot of money into seed production, Millershaski, who also serves as the chairman of the Kansas Wheat Commission, said. “This year, if you didn’t speak for it early, you don’t have the option of any particular variety you want. Now there is seed available, but it is going to cost more this year.”
It is no shock that certified seed wheat supplies are limited this year due to the drought and short production from the Kansas harvest. Many seed dealers across the state are either sold out of certified seed wheat or have limited supplies.
“It’s extremely tight and it’s getting tighter by the day,” said Dan Dall, Central Plains regional commercial manager for Limagrain Cereal Seeds. “Guys need to be getting stuff ordered and taken care of so they can get what they want. I think we’re already down to second or third choice in a lot of places.”
Seed dealers and the companies they represent are trying to offset these shortages and meet the demand of their local customers by securing sources of certified seed wheat from other parts of Kansas or other states, but it may not be cost-effective to do so considering the high cost of freight.
Add more varieties to shopping list for seed wheat
Given the shortage of certified seed wheat supplies, wheat producers should be prepared to expand their list of preferred varieties to purchase, if they have not already locked in seed wheat.
“Instead of one or two options, be prepared to be thinking through three, four or five different options of the varieties you want,” said Bryson Haverkamp, Kansas Wheat Alliance CEO. “Your first or second choice may not be available.”
Luckily, Kansas growers have a wealth of resources available for this research, including K-State’s Kansas Wheat Variety Guide or the “Wheat Varieties for Kansas and the Great Plains” best choices book.
When looking at this data, Andrew Blubaugh, wheat commercial manager for WestBred, cautioned producers not to just look at this year’s data, but to look back at two, three or four years of data to get a better picture of a variety’s performance and consistency.
“Don’t be upset that your pick for this year isn’t on the top of the list because this year’s data was skewed with the challenging harvest,” Blubaugh said. “Make sure to look at that multi-year history.”
In addition to these publications, seed dealers and company representatives can help growers walk through the list of available varieties to source ones that will work for their operations.
“There’s a lot of good advice out there,” Dall said. “Most company representatives can provide you with pretty good guidance on new varieties or different varieties to try. There are resources out there and we’re more than happy to help.”
Another option for growers is to try out a new or different variety. Instead of relying on a go-to variety, producers could branch out to something with similar agronomic characteristics.
“The marketplace is full of great varieties,” Dall said. “It might be a good time to try something new. We like to be set in our ways, but this does give us an opportunity to take a look at something else.”
Producers should also have confidence that the varieties for sale, even if they are not their go-to selections or the hot, new pick for the season, are the result of an extensive wheat breeding process and the varieties that make it to market are there because they were consistent top performers in their generations.
“There’s a lot of varieties in the marketplace today and they’re all very competitive,” said Dave Abel, key account lead for AgriPro wheat. “There are products that perform better than others in certain areas, but I have confidence that everything in my portfolio that’s out in the marketplace is out there because it performs.”
Select good quality seed for certified sources
One action producers should not take this planting season is to purchase seed wheat from unlicensed neighbors. Certified seed wheat is subject to plant variety protection (PVP) laws that govern the development and sale of certified seed wheat by public and private wheat breeders. While farmers can retain seed wheat from the certified seed they plant for use in their own operations, the sale of that “brown-bagged” wheat is illegal and could carry serious ramifications for not only the seller but also the buyer. In addition, bin-run wheat likely has not undergone the rigorous standards that certified seed producers are required to undergo to ensure that the seed they are selling is a quality product to put out to customers.
If producers are using their own retained seed wheat, they should send samples out for germination tests, especially following this year’s challenging growing season. Haverkamp emphasized the importance of germination testing specifically this year to ensure seed is up to acceptable standards, especially considering the amount of head scab present in the western part of Kansas.
If not a regular practice, producers should also strongly consider seed treatments this year as the extra fungicide and insecticide will offer additional protection against seed-transmitted fungal diseases and fall-season insects.
“It’s always a good idea to look at seed treatments, but especially in years like this when disease pressure was increased in the western part of the state, seed treatment is got insurance to help get your wheat crop off to a good start,” Blubaugh said.
Good wheat varieties still available
Overall, while sourcing seed wheat will be a challenge this season, Kansas growers should be rest assured there are good wheat varieties available to make a crop next year.
“There’s a lot of good wheat varieties out there,” Haverkamp said. “Don’t be disappointed if you don’t get the variety you want. Each company has good varieties. Work really closely with your local seed provider and work with them on what they think would be a good fit for your operation.”
Find the latest varietal information, performance data and certified seed directory through the Kansas Crop Improvement Association at https://www.kscrop.org/. Additional resources, including the most current K-State guidance on wheat variety selection, at kswheat.com/wheatrx.