ILSOYADVISOR POST

Are We Really Planting Wheat?

The answer? Yes. Well, I hope we do. 
 
The opportunity to sow wheat may seem bleak after a tasking 2019 planting season, but for a good portion of Illinois, especially for us in God’s Graceland (Southern Illinois), wheat is still an important crop within our farming operations. As with all cropping systems, hybrid selection and good seed-to-soil placement are prerequisites for any strong crop foundation.
 
Key Recommendations to consider:
1. Fertility: 
  • Soil tests should always be referred to; local agronomists/CCA consultants can help with this.
  • Increased P: The need for phosphorus is greater as we approach cooler weather to stimulate growth; wheat relies on this. 
    • While fertilizing for wheat, one should keep in mind what double-crop soybeans will need.
  • Nitrogen – 20-40 units for a “pop-up” is recommended. Growers should adjust nitrogen application timing and rates after tiller counts. 
2. Seeding Rate: 
  • Normal seeding recommendation has a wide range of 1.2 million to 2 million seeds per acre, but as we may draw closer to the latter side of our planting window 1.6 million to 2 million should be a desired population.
    • If no-tilling, population should be increased as well. 
3. Additionally, and readers may think I am crazy, but a wise man once told me to never no-till wheat in the dark. Increased moisture at night causes poor planting conditions. This has held true in my experience.
 
This brings me to my final point, aphid control in the fall. One of my biggest fears and greatest headaches in the spring is barley yellow dwarf (BYD) virus, which is brought on by many different types of aphids. Symptoms of BYD can vary. It can also be mistaken for nutritional deficiencies, stress brought on by the environment, or a multitude of root and/or crown diseases. Once these symptoms are found, unfortunately, there’s little to nothing that can be done. 
 
There are a few things growers can do to prevent/reduce risk of BYD. Proper integrated pest management involves crop scouting to determine thresholds and appropriate reaction, but scouting for aphids can be difficult due to the size of aphids and the scattered pattern or pockets across the field. A good proactive recommendation would be to treat wheat with a neonicotinoid insecticide along with a fungicide treatment. This additional investment on the front end will result in big dividends. Many producers may have already purchased wheat treated with fungicide only; a low-cost insecticide can be sprayed 30 days after planting to help. Later planting will reduce risk of aphid control due to cooler weather, but usually we’re hoping for an early planting to increase growth in the fall. 
 
Another helpful tip would be to have a clean seed bed. A glyphosate burndown 10 days prior to planting will decrease available host plants for aphids. Barley yellow dwarf can vary in yield reduction due to aphid pressure. This applies to neighboring grassy or cereal fields as well. The decision to control insects in the fall could greatly decrease stress in the spring. 
Please feel free to reference this article when talking with your local CCA.

Dan Niemeier

The author is a crop specialist for M&M Service Company, a locally owned agricultural cooperative serving the supply, marketing, and service needs of members since 1927.



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