Small Grains Improvement Team releases two new winter wheat varieties

June 2, 2021

Lincoln, Neb. —The collaborative USDA-University of Nebraska Small Grains Improvement Team has developed two promising new winter wheat varieties: a hard white winter wheat (NW13493) and a hard red winter wheat (Epoch). Both new varieties could be available for planting in growers’ fields as early as fall 2021.

NW13493 was released primarily for its high-value white grain and broad adaptation to rainfed conventional and organic wheat production systems throughout Nebraska. NW13493 is sprouting- resistant and has a good disease resistance package and excellent milling and baking quality. NW13493 has been licensed to Bay State Milling Company and will be produced under contract with their agents. This critical partnership will maintain the necessary marketplace segregation for hard white winter wheat and protects growers.

Epoch, a hard red winter wheat tested as NE15420, is ideally suited for irrigated production and intensive management in western Nebraska, where it has excelled for grain yield and test weight in the Nebraska State Variety Trial. Epoch is a short stature, semi-dwarf line with excellent straw strength to reduce lodging under irrigation.  It has a good disease resistance package with acceptable milling and baking quality.

“These new-to-the-market wheat varieties have exceptional higher yield and stronger disease resistance package,” said Hector Santiago, assistant dean of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Agricultural Research Division. “These varieties represent a major achievement of the University of Nebraska Small Grains Breeding Program that without doubt will positively impact wheat production in Nebraska, as they were developed to suit stakeholders growing areas and conditions in Nebraska and the Midwest.”

Stephen Baenziger, a UNL wheat breeder who retired last month after 35 years with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, was instrumental in the development of these varieties. During Baenziger’s tenure, he has released, co-released or is in the process of releasing 44 winter wheat, seven winter barley and 13 winter triticale cultivars. Katherine Frels was recently hired to be the new small grains breeder and continue the tradition of producing new varieties.

Both the NW13493 and Epoch varieties were developed with support from the Nebraska Wheat Board. The Husker Genetics Foundation Seed Program will maintain breeder and foundation seed of NW13493 and Epoch, and the Nebraska Wheat Board has requested a license to assist with the marketing of this variety. See your local Certified Seed Dealer for variety characteristics and more information on these varieties.