As spring wheat planting season approaches and winter wheat continues to break dormancy across the country, it is important that you assist your growers to implement a proactive integrated crop management plan to ensure optimal stand establishment and protect against early-season weeds and diseases and maintain wheat quality and yield potential.

General agronomic recommendations for ensuring maximum yield potential have been supplied by Syngenta, although there are always specific regional recommendations that you need to discuss with growers. Growers will hopefully be open to consulting with you to determine the ideal window for field prep, planting, insight as to how soil temperatures and current weather conditions may impact planting and early-season pest pressure and early-season scouting.

Provide assistance as needed so that your grower customers accomplish the following program:

  • Identifying winterkill injury in wheat: With limited snow cover this past week, growers may be concerned about the possibility of winterkill and poor wheat stands this spring. Wheat growers need to identify winterkill damage and to then employ appropriate follow-up actions.  Experts note that it is often difficult to distinguish between the damage from winterkill and damage from other potential problems, including snow mold, barley yellow dwarf virus, salt damage, frost injury or even Pythium.
  • Evaluating the degree of winterkill injury in wheat: To manage the effects of winterkill, growers must evaluate the degree of winterkill injury in their wheat and adjust next steps accordingly.  Symptoms to observe include: plants with one or more dead leaves; patches of dead plants in the field; tiller development without accompanying root system growth; and wilting, yellow and dying of some leaves after spring green-up.  Growers need urged to wait until plants break dormancy and fields begin to green up before finalizing any replanting decisions.
  • Clear fields of residual weeds: It is important to establish a clean, weed-free field at least two weeks before planting wheat. If not, insects and diseases living in previous crop residue or remaining weeds can travel to newly emerging wheat and other spring crops. For optimum weed control, applying a quality burndown, pre-plant or pre-emergence herbicide, which delivers broad-spectrum control of broadleaf and grass weeds is needed.
  • Scout early and often: Scouting is important at multiple stages of the growing season, and it’s best to start early. The first scouting trip should be to identify the pest species already present. After initial product applications, remember to scout two to three weeks later to ensure good control has been achieved. Maintain consistent scouting practices throughout the season, and incrase the frequency as needed during times of high pest pressure.
  • Make preventive fungicide applications: Considering the early widespread presence of rust this season, getting ahead with a fungicide application is particularly important. To help mitigate stress from diseases like stripe rust, the recommendation should be to make a preventive fungicide application.
  • Minimize crop stress, eliminate weed pests: Determining which weeds will make an appearance from year to year is quite difficult to predict, but by monitoring their presence and making timely herbicide applications growers can help to maintain and improve their crops’ performance. Wheat growers can diversify their herbicide programs by using products containing different modes of action (MOAs). For example, rotating a Group 1 herbicide and a Group 2 herbicide will help control weeds while also helping prevent the development of resistant weed populations.

It was noted by Syngenta that ag professionals can always turn to their local Syngenta agronomic service representative to help come up with management recommendations for individual farmers.