Plan early to get a head start on successful winter wheat season
Scout fields to identify, get ahead of issues
Scouting is one of the simplest and most cost effective ways to be proactive. Make several passes throughout the season to really get to know your field, keeping an eye out for anything unusual. “One example of the importance of scouting comes in the area of herbicide-resistant weeds,” Drader explains. “In many areas, we are starting to see some resistant weeds develop, and if a grower isn’t taking time to look at his field, identify those issues and take appropriate action, he could exacerbate the problem.”
Benefit from plant growth regulators
Growers increasing nitrogen rates for higher wheat yield tend to have plants with bigger heads. The bigger the head, the more it weighs, and while that’s good for yield and profit, it puts more stress on the stem and increases the likelihood of lodging. Plants that endure high winds and heavy rain are similarly prone to lodging, which can slow harvest and reduce yield by 10 to 40 percent. To strengthen the crop’s ability to withstand these conditions, consider an application of a plant growth regulator such as Palisade EC. “Where we applied Palisade, we saw shortening of the wheat and increased stem diameter and standability,” says Patrick Hurt, Security Seeds research director in Hopkinsville, Ky. “In fact, we were able to increase nitrogen rates, and the wheat was still able to stand.”
Grow more with crop protection
Common diseases such as stripe rust, powdery mildew and Septoria are a major threat to yield potential in winter wheat. Gehant urges growers to apply a fungicide – such as Quilt Xcel fungicide – early to help prevent these and other diseases from taking over fields. After a Quilt Xcel application, “the plant also isn’t as vulnerable to stress,” Hurt explains. “Overall, it is greener, it has a healthier stem and it is going to be able to stand up better.” Don’t forget to look out for insects, either. Left untreated, they can reduce plant quality by removing sap and severely diminish yield potential by feeding on leaf tissue, among other issues.
By creating a plan to address each of these potential challenges, the end result should be the ability to grow more wheat. “In short, preparing now can result in fewer headaches – and better results – in the future,” Gehant says.