Spring wheat 2013: Best practices in the Pacific Northwest

Published on: 10:12AM Apr 03, 2013

Although a relatively small percentage of the region’s cereals market share, spring wheat is still a key crop in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) – particularly for growers who are in a three-year rotation.

"It offers a good rotational value with the winter cereals, offering opportunities for weed control that wouldn’t come through a wheat fallow rotation," said Richard Smiley, professor of plant pathology at Oregon State University.
For those growers planning to plant spring wheat in 2013, Don Drader, Syngenta agronomic service representative in Washington, offers the following recommendations.

PNW spring wheat
Preparing to Plant
Start clean – To optimize seed emergence, prepare a fresh seed bed and clean up troublesome weeds. Better to get a leg up on managing weeds early than having to deal with them later. For better weed control, use a quality burndown, pre-plant or pre-emergence herbicide. Gramoxone® SL 2.0 herbicide delivers outstanding burndown control of broadleaf and grass weeds, providing fast and effective results even in cool, wet weather conditions.
Consider your tillage options – For fields that are covered in weeds, conventional tillage is an appropriate option. But barring those difficult circumstances, growers should consider their alternatives. Reduced-tillage practices not only reduce fuel and labor needs, they also preserve moisture. Ridge-tilling, meanwhile, can help reduce wind and water erosion in fields. "Spring cereals actually fit into no-till cropping systems very well," Smiley said.
Selection and Protection
Variety is your friend – Experts suggest that one of the best ways to prepare for the growing season comes during the seed purchasing process. Choosing to incorporate multiple seed varieties – and thus spreading risk – can help minimize the impact of the season’s inevitable unpredictability. In addition, planting certified seed varieties helps ensure genetic purity, smoother plantability, seed vigor and early germination and emergence.
Begin protection at the seed level – A quality seed treatment can help prevent insects and diseases from damaging crops and reducing yield potential. It also can help improve crop stand establishment, which has been shown to lead to more vigorous crops that are better able to protect themselves against adverse weather conditions throughout the season. The result: increased yield and profit potential.
"A great option for spring wheat is the addition of Vibrance™ seed treatment fungicide," Drader said. "For growers in the PNW, Vibrance (sedaxane) will be available as part of a custom blend offer that also includes Dividend® (difenoconzaole) fungicide, Apron XL® (mefenoxam) fungicide, Cruiser® (thiamethoxam) insecticide and ipconazole. We’ve customized this offer to deliver a robust product solution that addresses PNW growers’ need for a formulation that offers industry-leading protection against Rhizoctonia, Fusarium and Pythium."
Stay Ahead of Pests
Use multiple modes of action – To combat early-season weed pressure, growers should select herbicides with different modes of action, especially as weeds start to show signs of resistance. Syngenta, for example, offers Sierra™ herbicide as a complement to Axial® XL herbicide, providing a new resistance management tool and offering customized weed control solutions.
Remember "3:3:1" – Here’s a good rule of thumb to keep in mind: A 3-inch weed in three days will use 1 inch of moisture.
Don’t let pests take over – Spring wheat in the PNW is susceptible to diseases such as powdery mildew, rusts, and tan spot, which is why growers should plan for an early application of a fungicide like Quilt Xcel®. "Quilt Xcel combines the proven performance of two leading brands to deliver long-lasting, broad-spectrum control of diseases," Drader said. "It also provides enhanced physiological benefits to help the crop better deal with stress throughout the growing season." And don’t forget about insects. "You don’t want pests such as aphids, cereal leaf beetles and grasshoppers to threaten your yields, so you’ll want to consider foliar applications of an insecticide like Warrior II with Zeon Technology®," Drader explained.
Be proactive in your fields – Frequently scout for disease and insect pests. This is critical to stay ahead of outbreaks. Also consider tank mixing insecticides and fungicides with a herbicide application, as this will maximize the value of trips through the field.
At the core of all of this, Drader said, is that preparation is extremely important this time of year.
"The weather usually lends a helping hand in in the PNW," he said. "That said, growers should still take care to help their fields fully realize the potential this good fortune provides them."
For more agronomic advice, visit www.cereals.farmassist.com. To follow the experiences of cereals growers across the country, visit www.VoicesAcrossThePlains.com.
Fungicide performance assumes disease presence.

©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.

Gramoxone SL 2.0 and Warrior II with Zeon Technology are Restricted Use Pesticides.
Warrior II with Zeon Technology is highly toxic to bees exposed to direct treatment on blooming crops and weeds. Do not apply this product or allow it to drift onto blooming plants while bees are foraging adjacent to the treatment area.
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