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Agronomy Update

E. Indiana and Ohio: Checking Your Wheat Stands

Published on Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Winter has finally come to an end and the last of the snow is melting away, which means it's time to check out those wheat stands! In this week’s video, Mark Apelt and I discuss what we’ve been seeing throughout Ohio's wheat fields and what you can do about it.

I also met with Beck's dealer, Jeff Lugibihl, to discuss his Beck's wheat plot.

Evaluating Your Wheat Stands
1. Check fields for drowned out areas and overall uniformity.
2. Take sample tiller counts.
3. Plan nitrogen (N) application.

Stand Evaluation: Optimal wheat growth is around 20 to 24 plants per square foot resulting in 70 to 100 tillers per square foot. This will produce an average of 60 to 70 harvestable heads. That is 3 to 5 tillers per plant, but if you are seeing less than 70 tillers per square foot, you should apply available N on ASAP which will allow your field to catch up this early this spring.

TIllering: Feekes 5 growth stage marks the end of tillering and if you have 70+ tillers per square foot, a single N application at this time is adequate. Late March is when this stage hits. If your tiller counts are low, applying N as soon as possible may be your last chance to get tiller counts up to improve yield.


Early Nitrogen Application: Late planted wheat fields have the most need for early N to encourage tillering because they didn’t have time to tiller much in the fall. It's time for catch up.

Keep in mind, the earlier N goes on, the more important a stabilizer is. We have also seen good results from adding sulfur (S) with your nitrogen application. This can be done by using ammonium sulfate as a N source or adding sulfur with your liquid N. Wheat is very responsive to S, and most soil tests I see are coming back L to VL on Sulfur.


According to OSU, the minimum for an economic stand is 15 tillers per square foot.


Next week’s article will simplify some of the nitrogen stabilizers on the market.

Thanks to Beck’s agronomist, Steve Gauck and regional product specialist, Mark Apelt, for their input on this article!

Have a great week!



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Author: Alex Johnson

Categories: Agronomy, E Indiana, Ohio


Alex Johnson

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