Top 10 Tips for Winter Wheat Yields

Best management practices (BMPs) go a long way to help farmers secure the best yields and return on investment when planting winter 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 winter wheat outcomes:

1. Harvest practices

Spread straw and chaff residue properly with the combine at harvest to help set the stage for optimal field conditions for planting winter wheat. Too much residue can delay emergence. Adjust residue spreading to match the width of your combine platform for best results.

2. Variety selection

Consult with local seed dealers, review results of university Extension variety trials and choose the best seed variety for regional environmental conditions and individual farming practices.

3. Seed genetics

Plant a newer wheat variety that has been commercially tested for five years. This may help boost yields by 10 bushels or more per acre versus older wheat varieties. Look for certified seed genetics that provide good winter hardiness, tolerance to diseases such as head scab and good standability under the high nitrogen fertility needed to achieve top yields.

4. Seed treatments

Protect young wheat seedlings and cost-effectively manage risk with seed treated with a fungicide and an insecticide to protect against common fungal soilborne diseases such as Pythium, Rhizoctonia and Fusarium rot and insect problems such as aphids, cutworms and Hessian fly.

5. Soil testing

Gauge fertility by taking soil samples to maintain optimum soil nutrient levels.

6. Fertility levels

Restore more nutrients to the soil than were removed during harvest of the previous crop. For example, applying phosphorous at seeding can aid winter survival. Soil types and the results of nutrient testing will also determine fertilizer application rates.

7. Nitrogen management

Maintain high nitrogen levels for high-yielding winter wheat. Critical timing for nitrogen application comes at seeding, V-5 stem elongation and prior to heading. Many experts recommend split nitrogen applications to reduce lodging and enhance wheat quality.

8. Seedbed preparation

Plant winter wheat in standing stubble, if possible. While stubble may harbor disease, it also provides a good source for the retention of valuable soil moisture from snow and rainfall, which will help nourish the new crop. Establish a disease management plan to allow for the benefits of planting into standing stubble.

9. Seeding dates

Choose planting dates depending upon the growing region and weather. Optimum seeding dates range from September through the first 10 days of October. Wheat seed needs adequate moisture and growing degree days to germinate and enough cold temperatures to vernalize prior to spring.

10. Pest management

Control weed, disease and insect pressures with timely scouting and identification for top yields. 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 Winter 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.

Integrated Weed Management

Bayer has a broad portfolio to combat tough-to-control and resistant weeds.* A well-thought-out herbicide program, using multiple sites of action and nonchemical practices, should be implemented. Before applying any herbicide, please read the entire label for the best possible results and to confirm that the product is effective on the weeds you wish to control.

The following Bayer solutions are valuable tools to consider for your program.

Huskie® herbicide (6, 27) is available to wheat growers in 40 states and includes a unique product for cereals with multiple modes of action (MOA), which are responsible for controlling broadleaf weeds such as kochia, Russian thistle, prickly lettuce and wild buckwheat – including ALS- and glyphosate-resistant biotypes.

Bayer also offers Olympus® wheat herbicide to help keep fields clean from start to finish with its residual activity to help fight weeds as they germinate. Growers can use Olympus at burndown as a cost-effective, reliable solution to suppress brome grass in spring and winter wheat.

To learn more about using herbicides with effective modes of action, refer to the Herbicide Resistance Management Guide. To explore the recommendations of Respect the Rotation™, the Bayer resistance management program, contact your local Bayer sales representative or talk to your regional agronomist.

* Not every product is suitable for every situation, nor registered in every state, and proper application techniques will enhance results.

Wheat Disease Management

A well-thought-out disease-management program, including best management practices, proper seed protection and selection and fungicide applications using multiple modes of action, should be implemented to sustainably manage diseases. The following Bayer solutions are valuable tools to consider for your program.

Because cereal fungal diseases can overwinter and survive in crop residue, crop rotations can help reduce the inoculum of fungal leaf disease pathogens. Fungicide seed treatments can also provide a healthy start for seedlings, especially in cool and damp spring conditions. EverGol® Energy from Bayer is a seed treatment fungicide that promotes more root growth for faster crop establishment. It controls seed and soilborne diseases such as Rhizoctonia and features a combination of fungicides incorporating a complementary mode of action that supports resistance management.

Bayer also offers a seed treatment that offers both a fungicide and an insecticide to protect against common wheat diseases and insect pests. Gaucho® XT is a low-dose, seed-applied, excellent disease package with the benefit of two fungicides for early season protection against Rhizoctonia, Pythium, Fusarium, root rots, smuts, as well as early season suppression of powdery mildew and leaf rusts. It also acts as a “plant protectant” to deliver long-lasting insecticidal protection that moves within the plant tissues and protects against damage caused by aphids, wireworms and early season Hessian fly.

A number of fungicides are available for both early-season and late-season control of these common leaf diseases. Chemistries from two of the most commonly used classes of fungicides – triazoles and strobilurins – provide good to excellent activity against wheat leaf diseases. Wheat growers should consider fungicides with systemic movement and curative properties for the broadest protection from cereal foliar diseases.

Prosaro® fungicide provides unsurpassed activity against head diseases such as scab (Fusarium head blight) and glume blotch. With a combination of two chemistries, Prosaro® provides both fast action and a long residual. Moreover, Prosaro fungicide controls various types of leaf diseases like rust, Septoria leaf blotch, tan spot and powdery mildew. It’s a good choice to ensure grain quality and enhance yield potential.

Insect Management

Starting off with a good seed treatment is an excellent way to control insects and protect plants above and below the ground.

In addition to offering an excellent disease package, Gaucho® XT seed treatment provides early insect protection for wheat seedlings. Growers can use the Gaucho XT seed treatment package to provide unmatched protection against insects causing economic loss, including wireworms, aphids and Hessian fly – acting on both contact to protect the roots and systemically to protect the plant. For areas with heightened wireworm pressure, growers can gain protection by adding Gaucho® 600FS seed treatment.

When insect populations warrant foliar insecticide applications, wheat growers can use Baythroid® XL insecticide. Baythroid XL has the broadest pyrethroid label available for consistent performance on a broad spectrum of insect pests, with fast knockdown and long residual control.

Always read and follow label instructions. Not all products are registered for use in every state. Baythroid XL is a Restricted Use Pesticide.

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.  

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