Plan early to get a head start on successful winter wheat season

Published on: 14:51PM Aug 23, 2013
Experts weigh in with considerations for upcoming growing season
The 2013 harvest is running later than usual in many areas, but winter wheat planting is closing in. Representing more than three quarters of total U.S. wheat production – and as the dominant wheat class in U.S. exports – it is an important crop for many farmers from the Southeast to the Pacific Northwest. For a successful season, agronomists and university experts across the country strongly urge starting the season with a comprehensive plan. Here are some of their tips:
Select varieties to spread risk
As growers begin planning for the winter wheat planting season, Syngenta urges them to do their research: 
  • Choose three to four different seed varieties with different maturity rates, to spread out the risk of uncontrollable factors, such as temperature and moisture.
  • Plant certified seed varieties to help ensure genetic purity, smoother plantability, seed vigor and improved germination and emergence.
  • AgriPro® brand certified seed varieties from Syngenta deliver high yield potential, good test weights, quality grain and superior disease protection. Plant later-maturing varieties first and earlier-maturing varieties later. 
Control lingering pests with burndown
It is important to establish a clean field at least two weeks before planting. If not, insects and diseases  living on previous crops or remaining weeds can travel to newly emerging wheat and other fall crops. This could potentially set up devastating crop issues like barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV) and Hessian fly. Touchdown® brand herbicides deliver down-to-the-roots, systemic burndown control of a broad spectrum of emerged annual and perennial grass and broadleaf weeds so growers can start with a clean field.
Seed treatments provide extra security
As the big weather swings of the past couple of years have shown, it’s impossible to predict what the season will bring. Experts strongly suggest growers use seed treatment options for several reasons:  
  • They help eliminate insects and diseases that negatively impact yield potential
  • Some can improve crop stand – giving the plant extra support to withstand a variety of weather conditions
  • CruiserMaxx® Vibrance® Cereals seed treatment insecticide/fungicide helps wheat establish stronger, healthier root systems that result in a more productive crop – and increased yield and profit potential
Scout fields to identify, get ahead of issues
Scouting is one of the simplest and most cost effective ways to be proactive. Make several passes throughout the season to really get to know your field, keeping an eye out for anything unusual.
Benefit from plant growth regulators
Growers increasing nitrogen rates for higher wheat yield tend to have plants with bigger heads. The bigger the head, the more it weighs, and while that’s good for yield and profit, it puts more stress on the stem and increases the likelihood of lodging. Plants that endure high winds and heavy rain are similarly prone to lodging, which can slow harvest and reduce yield by 10 to 40 percent. To strengthen the crop’s ability to withstand these conditions, consider an application of a plant growth regulator such as Palisade® EC
Grow more with crop protection
Common diseases that pose a major threat to yield potential in winter wheat include
Apply a fungicide like Quilt Xcel® early to help prevent these and other diseases from taking over fields. Don’t forget to look out for insects, either. Left untreated, they can reduce plant quality by removing sap and severely diminish yield potential by feeding on leaf tissue, among other issues. 
By creating a plan to address each of these potential challenges, the end result should be the ability to grow more wheat. 
Between the rows
®2013 Syngenta. Important: Always read and follow label instructions. Some crop protection products may not be registered for sale or use in all states or counties. Please check with your local extension service to ensure registration status.  AgriPro®, CruiserMaxx®, Palisade®, Quilt Xcel®, Touchdown®, Vibrance® and the Syngenta logo are registered trademarks of a Syngenta Group Company.