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Don’t Cheat Your Wheat

September 01, 2017

Don’t Cheat Your Wheat

2017 was another great year for the wheat crop. While not quite as heavy as 2016, many growers were pleased with yields this year.  With the wet spring and troubles getting the soybean crop into the ground there is concern about our ability to get wheat in this fall due a late harvest. There are a number of steps growers should consider now to make sure they are ready to plant as soon as the combine leaves the field.

Firstly, get your seed ready. While it may seem obvious, having your seed cleaned and ready to go is imperative for a season where we may be hard pressed to get wheat in. Fungicide seed treatments improve seedling vigour and are a good idea to control root diseases. If you are planning on using Certified Seed, talk to one of your Clark Agronomists for recommendations. We have a number of high performing varieties to fit your farm.

The drill is the next area of concern. It’s time to take it out of the shed and give it the once over. Replacing any bearings or openers that may have worn out during the spring seeding season. The optimum planting depth for wheat is 1 inch. This is to promote early emergence while not compromising root development. Wheat’s crown roots develop at 3/4″ below the soil surface once the shoot emerges above ground. If planted too shallow the crown roots will not develop deep enough to anchor the plant during the winter.  The second piece of machinery to look at is the combine. To ensure even seeding depth, soybean chaff needs to be evenly spread as wide as the header width. If it is not your drill will be seeding deeper in areas without chaff and shallower directly behind the combine. Uneven emergence will cause delays and uneven heading next season.

Wheat needs starter fertilizer. Phosphorus promotes early root development and this in turn increases yields.  Liquid starter provides a 4 bu increase over no-starter while using dry MAP with the seed has shown an 8 bu improvement. If your drill does not have a fertilizer box, talk to you Clark rep about mixing your wheat with MAP through our tower for the best possible start.

One final thing to consider is weed control. If you are battling with our two problem weeds, bluegrass or fleabane, there are strategies you can use to keep them at bay. With bluegrass, we have to go in pre-emerge. A pass with Focus is going to clean that bluegrass up and allow the wheat to grow unobstructed. With Fleabane we can go either pre-emerge or post-emerge. An Eragon burndown before emergence will work, however if time is tight an application of Infinity can be made once the wheat is up and going. Talk to your Clark Agronomist to build a plan for your farm.

While we may be hard pressed to get the wheat in the ground this year, I think these are some things to consider while we are watching the beans turn, to ensure we are ready to plant as soon as possible. Have a safe harvest, looking forward to talking to you out in the countryside.

This Crop Corner has been written by Elliott Armstrong, Sales Agronomist at Clark Agri Service.  Elliott can be reached by email earmstrong@clarkagriservice.com or by phone 905-981-0045