NDSU Extension - Griggs County


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March 26

The Extension Connection Column by Jeff Stachler

Keys to Successful Wheat Production


Spring has sprung and planting season is not too far away!

There is still time to participate in the in-person virtual horticulture meeting series taking place at the County Courthouse.  The Series continues on March 29, April 5, and 12, 2021 from 6:30 to 8:30 PM.  Please preregister by calling the extension office at 701-797-3312 or e-mailing jeff.stachler@ndsu.edu. 

Hard red spring wheat is the second most grown crop in Griggs County.  Maximizing yield and profits is essential to good hard red spring wheat production.

One of the keys to maximizing yield of hard red spring wheat is crop rotation.  The longer the rotation to the next wheat crop, the higher the yield.  NDSU research shows continuous wheat produced only 44 bushels per acre while a wheat-dry bean-wheat and a soybean-dry bean-wheat rotation yielded 49 and 58 bushels per acre, respectively.

Selecting the right variety is another key to wheat production.  Choose varieties with differing maturities to spread the risk of having hot weather.  Focus on the key agronomic characteristics of straw strength, tendency to shatter, and tendency to sprout.  Choosing varieties with the most disease resistance possible is another key characteristic to selecting the right variety.  Resistance to Fusarium head blight (scab) is really important.

Plant certified seed to reduce disease and weed issues.

Treat seed with fungicides and insecticides.  Be sure to use the correct rate of the fungicides to maximize control.  In NDSU research, wheat stands were improved by up to 8.9% and yields increased by 3% with the use of fungicide and insecticide seed treatments.

Calibrate the drill/air seeder to deliver the correct amount of seed.  Set the drill/air seeder to plant enough seeds to obtain 1.3 to 1.4 million plants per acre.  Take into account the germination rate of the seed and expected stand loss of 5 to 10 percent when determining the final seeding rate.  If planting is delayed past the optimum date, then increase seeding rate by one percent for each day planting is delayed up to a maximum of 1.6 million seeds per acre.  Too light of a seeding rate will not maximize yield and too heavy of a seeding rate will likely cause the wheat to lodge.

The optimum planting date for Griggs County is the fourth week of April.  The earlier the planting the higher the yield.  The last day to plant wheat should be the fourth week of May. 

Optimum seeding depth is between 1.5 to 2 inches.  Planting wheat shallower than 1.5” will cause poor root development leading to lodging and reduced yields.

Use starter fertilizer to get plants off to a good start.  Soil test to know the correct amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium to apply.  Use Dave Franzen’s nitrogen rate calculator to apply the correct amount of nitrogen to the field.  The website for the calculator is https://www.ndsu.edu/pubweb/soils/wheat/ .  Applying the right amount of nitrogen is critical to maximizing wheat yield and reducing lodging of wheat.

Controlling weeds early is critical to maximizing yield.  Weeds compete against the crop for water and nutrients.  Application of preemergence herbicides in wheat should improve crop yield as fewer weeds will be present at the time of the postemergence application.  Apply Sharpen preemergence at 2 to 3 fluid ounces per acre in wheat to control waterhemp and kochia.

Scout fields often for diseases and insects and manage appropriately.  Many times fungicides are needed early to control leaf diseases in wheat.  It is nearly always necessary to apply fungicides at flowering to control Fusarium head blight (scab).

These keys will lead to successful wheat production.  Good luck this growing season!      

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