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Erin Brown / Grand Vale Creative

Minnesota's most popular wheat

Linkert — noted for its "standability" — was the most popular variety among Minnesota wheat growers in 2017, according to an annual survey by the Minnesota Wheat Research & Promotion Council.

The variety accounted for 28.2 percent of all wheat acreage in the state. Bolles ranked second with 14.4 percent, with WB-Mayville third at 13.5 percent.

Linkert was especially popular in northern Minnesota (29.7 percent of planted acreage) where the majority of the state's wheat is grown.

"All the popular varieties have good yields and decent protein. Linkert does, too. And its stands really well. It doesn't lodge. That's a big thing," said Dave Torgerson, executive director of the Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers.

Linkert also was the most popular wheat variety in Minnesota in 2016, when it accounted for 27.8 percent of the state's wheat acreage.

The variety was developed and released by the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station in 2013. It's named after Gary Linkert, a veteran technician on the wheat breeding project who retired in 2011.

Jim Anderson, a University of Minnesota wheat breeder, developed Linkert in response to farmers who told him they wanted less lodging in their wheat fields, Torgerson said.

"Standability was something growers wanted, and Linkert gives that. The yields are good, too," Torgerson said.

Wheat farmers balance a number of factors when deciding which variety to plant. The list includes yields, protein content, straw strength and test weight, among others. Each characteristic has value, and individual farmers must decide which combination of traits best suits their operation.

Bolles is known for its high protein. It was released in 2015 by the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station and is named after Lemuel Bolles, who built the first commercial flour mill in Minnesota near Afton in 1846.

Bolles doesn't yield as well as some other popular varieties, but its high protein and high quality are attractive to growers, Torgerson said.

Spring wheat enjoys a premium of $1.50 to $2 per bushel over winter wheat, which reflects the high quality of the former, Torgerson said.

High-quality spring wheat often is blended with lower-quality foreign wheat, bringing up the blended product's overall quality and helping Minnesota wheat farmers and the U.S. wheat industry in general.

"Export markets want it (high-quality spring wheat), and our growers are getting paid for it," Torgerson said. "So we really need to maintain that quality."