In Part 2 of our, “What to Consider During Harvest” series, we asked Dr. Joel Ransom, Extension Agronomist of North Dakota State University (NDSU), about issues that threaten a wheat crop at harvest time and how can we prevent them. Dr. Ransom is widely knowledgeable in agronomic research with corn and small grains.
What should a wheat grower keep top of mind as they prepare for harvest?
One of the most important issues to consider as harvest approaches is grain moisture. To be safely stored for more than nine months, wheat should be at 13 percent moisture and 14 percent for storage of less than nine months. This means that the grain should be at or near that moisture at harvest or that a plan is in place to enable further drying after harvest. Now is a good time for growers to inspect and clean the bins they will be using if storing any grain on-farm.
What threats impact yield at harvest time?
Leaving grain in the field to dry is one of the most cost-effective means of drying the grain. However, there are risks of leaving a mature crop in the field. Shattering can occur if there are strong winds and the crop is dry and brittle. Rain on mature grain can cause it to weather and lose its bright color. It may start the germination process if periods of moisture are prolonged.
Pre-harvest sprouting is a serious concern for a mature crop and can greatly reduce its value. Pre-harvest sprouting in a crop is measured by the falling number test, and low falling numbers can be the basis for serious price discounts at the elevator. The timing of harvest helps prevent pre-harvest sprouting and other diseases. The solution is to harvest sooner rather than later.
Should a grower make a late-season fungicide application?
Fungicide that is applied during flowering as part of a scab control program often keeps the leaves greener longer and can slightly delay the dry-down process. Generally, this is not a concern. But in cool, wet falls, it may delay harvest and cause grain quality issues if delays mean that the crop is rained on repeatedly.
For harvest readiness, consider how long you will be storing your grain. Storage under nine months will have a lower percentage than storage over nine months. Having too low of grain moisture can hurt your grain quality and ROI. We at Bayer have a tool to fight scab. Prosaro® fungicide helps improve grain quality and yield while fighting off diseases. Continue to manage potential threats through harvest to ensure a successful crop year.