About 130 wheat farmers from seven states attended the 2012 Wheat College in Manhattan, Kan., to learn more about high-yield wheat management practices from Phil Needham, internationally acclaimed wheat expert, and Missy Bauer, Farm Journal agronomist.
Early management decisions set the stage for yield
Larry the Cable Guy’s trademark phrase of git-r-done may be a good mindset for a lot of the simpler tasks wheat growers perform day-to-day around the farm, but don’t expect it to work well in your wheat crop. Instead, a take-it-slow, do-it-right strategy to planting and growing wheat provides the best results at harvest, according to Phil Needham, internationally acclaimed wheat expert. He says growers can use each step of the production process from start to finish to improve wheat-yield potential.
Needham and Missy Bauer, Farm Journal associate field agronomist, outlined their best management practices for growing wheat for 130 farmers from seven states during the 2012 Kansas Wheat College in Manhattan earlier this winter.
Here are five of Needham and Bauer’s top recommendations for wheat production.
1. Select high-yielding varieties. That’s not rocket science advice, but too many farmers still plant seed they saved from a previous season, and many do not treat it with a seed treatment fungicide. Instead, use graded, certified wheat varieties that offer high yield potential within your area.
"The few extra dollars you invest in quality, fungicide treated certified seed quickly pays-off because you will often harvest five to 7 bushels more per acre on average," Needham says.
Needham adds that he usually encourages farmers to select short, stiff straw wheat varieties for better standability.
"This allows you to push nitrogen rates higher and take advantage of your genetic yield potential without the risk of lodging," he says.
2. Plant for consistent depth and uniformity. The planting results you achieve are influenced by equipment use. A no-till drill or air seeder that can plant narrow rows, preferably 7.5" rows or narrower, is your best bet in wheat.
"In all of the replicated row spacing research trials I’ve conducted, the narrowest row spacings always yield the highest," Needham reports.
Make equipment adjustments in the field as you plant based on factors such as residue levels, soil types and moisture.
When seeding, pay particular attention to seed depth and population.
- March 2012