A high-yielding wheat variety developed by the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture is available to Arkansas producers for planting this fall.

“Sabbe wheat responds best under higher input management,” said Robert Bacon, wheat breeder for the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station. Best results follow higher seeding rates and extra nitrogen fertilizer.

In tests plots at the Rice Research and Extension Center at Stuttgart, Ark., Sabbe achieved a three-year average yield of 83 bushels per acre, he said. Statewide averages for wheat yields are about 55 bushels per acre.

“It has very stiff straw, so it's not prone to lodging, even under higher input management,” Bacon said. “It's a good fit for farmers who want to push it, to use high inputs to get high yields.”

Extension agronomist William Johnson said Sabbe has fewer heads per plant, but more seeds per head, so best results are obtained with a higher seeding rate. It should be planted at a density of 30 seeds per square foot under optimum conditions or 35 to 40 seeds per square foot if planted late or under less than ideal conditions.

“The first two weeks of the optimum planting window gave the best yields last year,” Johnson said. For northern parts of Arkansas, the optimum planting time is Oct. 1 to Nov. 1, in southern counties, Oct. 15 to Nov. 15 is optimum.

“Sabbe is a medium maturity wheat, so you can plant early and not get a lot of fall growth that could hurt yields,” Johnson said. “It has good winterhardiness.”

Bacon said Sabbe is the result of crossing two Arkansas breeding lines, then crossing that offspring with a French breeding line.

“This is where it gets its trait of fewer but larger heads with higher seed density,” Bacon said. “This is a common trait with European varieties and the recommended management practices are more along the lines of what are used in Europe. The result is a hardy plant that can utilize extra nitrogen better than other varieties to produce higher yields.”

Sabbe is named for the late Professor Wayne E. Sabbe, a noted soil scientist and director of the Arkansas soil testing and research program, Bacon said. Sabbe joined the agronomy department in 1966 and served in many UA faculty leadership positions in addition to his teaching and research in soil fertility and soil and plant analysis. He retired shortly before his death in 1999.

Don Dombek, director of the Arkansas Crop Variety and Improvement Program, said Sabbe was grown last year by certified seed producers and Certified Blue Tag seed is available for planting this fall.

For information about where to obtain seed, call 501-575-6884.


Fred Miller is Science Editor for the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station. e-mail: fmiller@uark.edu