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Wheat: Spring Green-Up Management Reminders

Consider these details in the push for top yields.

Wheat farmerWinter wheat growers across most of the Southern States® territory experienced timely seeding and great stand establishment of the 2016 crop. Now it’s time to begin spring green-up scouting to assess and refine management programs that ensure high yields and high test weight, disease-free grain.

With attention to detail, as well as improving knowledge of agronomic management needed to optimize crop production, yields of 80 to 100 bushels are becoming more commonplace. To meet the yield and profitability goals you’ve set for your wheat production enterprise, consider the following management reminders:

  • Counting tillers counts.

    The first step when wheat begins to green up is to scout each field and count tillers. Evaluate stands for losses due to winter kill. Fields with fewer than 70 tillers per square foot should be prioritized for early-season application of nitrogen to encourage growth and tillering. Typical application rates of 1 to 1.2 pounds of N for each bushel of yield are recommended. Timing of N applications can be as important as the amount used, whether it be a spring split application or a single spring application.
  • Evaluate weed pressure.

    When scouting, take note of weed pressure. Assess the prevalence of both winter annuals and spring-germinating weeds to identify the products and application timing needed to effectively control weeds. Your Southern States agronomist or local extension agent are good resources for herbicide recommendations. Consider pairing fertilizer, herbicide and fungicide applications to leverage the cost of application. Document the weed spectrum to refine your overall weed control program.
  • Plan for insect pests.

    The incidence of insect pressure is very unpredictable, so diligence, scouting and having a plan in place are the best defense. Be mindful of early, unseasonably warm temperatures that can enhance the potential for insects such as aphids or army worms. Also closely scout wheat planted into heavy crop residue as these fields have higher potential for insect infestation. And, if aphids were present in the fall, scout early and often for reoccurring populations.
  • Proactive approach to disease.

    Again, weather is the wild card and early, abnormally warm conditions that encourage insect pests also are ideal for diseases caused by viruses, fungi and other pathogens.

    Timely scouting is again the best defense, particularly in fields with a history of disease pressure or heavy residue from the previous crop. Ask your Southern States professional about the fungicides available to both prevent disease and minimize yield loss when disease is present.
  • Tissue sampling, aerial imagery for nutrition insights

    Growers seeking to refine their wheat fertility programs can get beneficial insights into crop needs by tissue sampling as soon as plants begin actively growing. Even when the crop looks great, tissue sampling can be used to identify and remedy yield-limiting deficiencies of micronutrients such as magnesium, boron and sulfur. After the crop is actively growing, imagine can help identify problem areas within fields and tissue sampling can then be done to pinpoint a solution.
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