Several best management practices can help spring wheat farmers realize optimum yields and return on investment. Photo courtesy of AgStock Images/Robert Bennett.
Best management practices (BMPs) go a long way to help farmers secure the best yields and return on investment when planting spring wheat. While there are many factors involved in achieving top yields, the following top 10 tips can help growers add bushels and profits and wind up with the best spring wheat outcomes:
1. Harvest practices
Spreading straw and chaff residue properly with the combine at harvest will help set the stage for optimal field conditions for planting wheat the following spring. Too much residue can delay emergence. Adjust residue spreading to match the width of your combine platform for best results.
2. Variety selection
Choose spring wheat varieties that best fit your area’s climate, soil type and individual farm goals. Seed purchase ranks as one of the highest inputs in wheat production but also offers the best potential for return on investment. Plant only high-quality, certified seed.
3. Seed genetics
Use newer, commercially available spring wheat varieties as well as the tried-and-true selections for your area. Consult your seed dealer, view recent university Extension variety research trials and talk to your neighbors about how newer varieties worked for them.
4. Seed treatments
Protect young wheat seedlings with seed treated with fungicide and insecticide protection to help protect against common fungal soilborne diseases such as Pythium, Rhizoctonia and Fusarium rots and insect problems like aphids, cutworms and Hessian fly as well as wireworms, particularly in the Pacific Northwest.
5. Soil testing
Test soil annually to ensure adequate fertility levels or to determine if you need additional fertilizer applications.
6. Proper fertility
Manage nitrogen for profitable spring wheat production. Base nitrogen fertility decisions on use rates that result in highest potential income rather than highest potential yield. Balance the cost of fertilizer and other inputs based on wheat commodity prices. Use appropriate rates if you choose to apply fertilizer when seed is planted. Too much fertilizer applied at planting may stunt germination.
7. Planting dates
Plant spring wheat based upon your geography and environmental conditions. One good rule of thumb is to “beat the heat.” In most spring wheat geographies, this will not be later than the third week of April. Check your crop insurance policy to make sure planting dates meet coverage requirements.
8. Seedbed preparation
Plant into moist, weed-free soil with evenly distributed crop residue, or plant into clean-tilled fields, to encourage good emergence and a uniform stand. These planting practices will simplify many management decisions such as herbicide, fungicide and insecticide applications throughout the growing season. A uniform, even stand will also make harvest go more smoothly.
9. Seeding depth and rate
Plant spring wheat seeds ideally 1 to 2 inches beneath the soil; however seedlings will emerge when planted 3 inches deep. Calibrate the planter and check for accuracy as you plant. Extension experts advise planting approximately 1.5 bushels of seed per acre when using average-sized seed.
10. Pest management
Control weed, disease and insect pressures with timely scouting and identification for your best economic outcome. Seed treatments, wheat varieties with built-in resistance, and foliar herbicide, fungicide and insecticide applications go a long way to protect yields from pest threats.
Bayer Solutions for Spring Wheat
Bayer offers a broad portfolio of season-long products to help winter wheat growers achieve the highest possible yield and grain quality. Read the entire label for best results and to confirm the product is effective on the pest you need to control. Choose the best products to control your specific pests and achieve the best yield outcome. Not every product is suitable for every situation, nor registered in every state, and proper application techniques will enhance results.
Visit our cereals section for information on a portfolio of products from Bayer to help cereal growers maximize yields and protect their crops or contact your local Bayer representative.