Wheat straw is a potential cellulosic feedstock for bioethanol. This study was conducted to evaluate straw yield potential and its relationship with grain yield for wheat (Triticum spp.) grown in the United States. The specific objective was to determine if differences in straw yield and harvest index (HI) exist between and within regions and/or wheat classes. Using on-going variety performance trials in eight states, a total of 255 varietal trial entriess from five classes of wheat were surveyed for above-ground biomass. Averaged over all wheat classes and regions the HI was 0.45. Soft red winter wheat in Kentucky had, on average, the highest HI and lowest straw yield among regions and wheat classes. Soft white winter wheat under irrigation in the Pacific Northwest produced the highest straw yield. Hard red winter wheat in the southern plain states of Texas and Oklahoma had, on average, the lowest HI. Differences in the amount of precipitation and cultivars were the major contributors to the variation detected within wheat classes. The amount of wheat straw available as cellulosic feedstock in a state or wheat class can be estimated using the grain yield estimates provided by the National Agricultural Statistics Service and the class specific HI.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
A collaborative effort, funded by Sun Grant Initiative  , was undertaken to better understand the potential of wheat straw yield as a feedstock for cellulosic ethanol across the United States. Given the limited funding for this work, data were gathered from existing and on-going variety evaluation trials in each of the participating states. Consequently only regionally adapted varieties were represented in the respective trials and few if any varieties were shared among trial locations. The specific objective of this survey was to investigate if differences in straw yield and HI exist among and within wheat classes. The purpose of the study was not to compare wheat cultivars per se, but rather to obtain an initial idea of the amount of variability among wheat classes and production regions.
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- Harvest index
- Straw yield