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A Better Beardless Triticale
Watley Seed Company claims the top producing beardless triticale for silage. However, their longtime breeder says even better ones are on the horizon and not just for silage.
“We have types producing extremely high tonnage for silage and shorter types for bread flour,” says Ron Kershen, Watley Seed Company. “We have a new forage variety that’s a week quicker to mature. We also have a variety with higher grain yields that has better bread baking quality.”
Kershen is known as Mr. Triticale in the U.S. He’s been breeding triticale since the crop was first created. A cross of wheat and rye, triticale was introduced in 1969 as a grazing forage but met with limited success. That began to change with the introduction of beardless triticale, bred to eliminate the long beard that hardened off and reduced triticale’s value as a hay crop.
“In the 1990’s, dairymen in the southern Plains States started using beardless triticale in place of wheat,” says Kershen. “It had the same feed value but produced 20 to 30 percent more tonnage on the same amount of water. Today, triticale is grown from the southwest to the Carolinas and as far north as New York. Some varieties fit everywhere, from Mexico to Canada and other countries worldwide. Poland has a higher percentage of triticale acres than anyone.”
Watley Seed Company began working with Kershen to develop new varieties to meet the growing demand. However, Andy Watley saw another advantage to focus on. Recognition that aquifer water levels were falling was on the rise, giving triticale an advantage over corn for silage as well.
“Because triticale grows over the winter months, there’s less water lost to evaporation than with corn,” says Kershen.
Watley focused breeding on varieties suited for dairies and feedlots from west-central Kansas into Texas and over to New Mexico. Introduced in 2005, their flagship SlickTrit line of triticale began winning forage production awards. It has dominated silage trials held by New Mexico University and others since, plus offers up to 3 weeks more grazing than others.
“Dairies talk about pounds of milk produced per acre, and SlickTrit varieties produce more than any other winter forage,” says Kershen. “SlikTrit II is now our biggest seller. It has stronger stalks than others for a better stand and more yield per acre.”
The water advantage is getting even better. Pumping water is expensive. In a Texas A&M study, Watley’s triticale produced 62 percent of the yield of corn at 42 percent of the cost. “We’re able to make a crop of triticale with about 12 in. of irrigated water,” says Kershen. “Most years it takes 20 to 30 in. of water for a crop of corn.”
Kershen hopes a new grain variety developed for bread flour use will make triticale look better to grain producers as well. Not only does it yield more grain than other triticale varieties, but it’s also better suited for bread baking.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Watley Seed Company, 10590 Texas Hwy. 15, Spearman, Texas 79081 (ph 806-659-3838; www.watleyseed.com).

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2023 - Volume #47, Issue #2