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Success Strategies on Wheat

Practical Farm Research - PFR Proven

Published on Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Many growers are interested in new and unique methods to increase wheat yields, while others may be growing wheat for the first time in many years. Beck's has compiled multi-year, multi-location research and agronomy information that we believe can help farmers achieve higher yields and improve their efficiency.

We have condensed this information into what we feel are key success strategies from our Practical Farm Research Program (PFR)® and agronomy insights to help you be more successful with your wheat crop. Not everything we share may fit exactly on your farm, so we want to encourage you to look over the information and find those things that might fit your operation.

WHEAT: PROVEN PRODUCTS - PRODUCT INFORMATION

PRODUCT – If a product has been tested in PFR and found to provide yield gains each year and averages a positive ROI over a minimum of three years, that product will earn the status of PFR Proven™. These products should be something to consider trying on your farm.

MIRAVIS® ACE FUNGICIDE - Miravis Ace fungicide provides strong, consistent protection from Fusarium head blight (FHB) in spring, winter, and durum wheat. With the combined power of ADEPIDYN® (Group 7) and propiconazole (Group 3), Miravis Ace helps prevent FHB infection, reducing the production of mycotoxins such as deoxynivalenol (DON) that can limit your grain’s end-use and marketing potential. It also delivers control of several key leaf diseases

CARAMBA® FUNGICIDE - Caramba is a highly effective fungicide containing the active ingredient metconazole, which offers significant yield protection and reduction of deoxynivalenol (DON) levels in grain.

PROSARO® 421 SC FUNGICIDE - Prosaro 421 SC is a highly effective fungicide that provides broadspectrum disease protection, including excellent head scab control, which contributes to increased grain quality and yield.

NEXICOR™ FUNGICIDE - Nexicor fungicide is engineered with the cereal grower in mind. It is powered by three active ingredients that deliver plant health benefits and long-lasting preventative and post-infection disease control.

PALISADE® EC PLANT GROWTH REGULATOR - Palisade EC is a plant growth regulator (PGR) that helps mitigate lodging challenges caused by adverse weather or high nitrogen fertilization levels.

FEED GRADE DEXTROSE SUGAR - Feed-grade dextrose has a very valuable role to play in supplying the sugars that feed the bacteria as they begin to break dormancy and become active in the soil. Dextrose is very soluble in water and dissolves very quickly and easily.

YETTER POLY TWISTERS CLOSING WHEELS - Yetter Poly Twister closing wheels are designed to work in a variety of soil types and conditions. The wheels utilize twisted poly spikes and a rounded center to close the tru-vee opening by crumbling the sidewall. The ring design maintains wheel depth and also firms the soil, eliminating possible air pockets. We recommend running the poly twister wheels as a pair and not in conjunction with a factory-style rubber wheel.

SCHAFFERT™ ZIPPER CLOSING WHEELS - Schaffert Zipper closing wheels are 13 in. angled spike closing wheels designed to take the place of standard rubber closing wheels. They work in all soil types, even the toughest of no-till conditions. The nonaggressive, 1 in. angled spikes feather the soil in the furrow while simultaneously applying pressure to ensure the furrow is zipped shut. As the spikes close, they create indentations that allow moisture to sink in, increasing seed-to-soil contact.

WHEAT: PROVEN PRODUCTS - RETURN ON INVESTMENT

PRACTICE – If a practice has been tested in PFR and found to be the most profitable over a minimum of three years, then that practice will earn the status of PFR Proven™. However, these practices should be considered as starting points. Consult your local Beck’s representative for best management practices for your area.

Split-applying nitrogen (N) decreases your risk of N loss from various mechanisms. Ensuring an adequate supply at key growth stages is critical, which is why Beck’s PFR recommends split applications of N. Consult with your local Beck’s representative for the best N management plan for your conditions.

WHEAT: PROVEN PRODUCTS - NET RETURN

Our PFR data has shown that on both 7.5 and 15 in. row spacings, 15-20 seeds per foot of row has shown the greatest economic return on investment. Industry and university data recommendations have been a standard of 25 seeds per foot of row for years. Although bushel differences between the different populations were small, the best return over multiple years has shown to be less than 25 seeds per foot of row.

1. Fungicide Timing - Multiple fungicides are PFR Proven™ at Feekes 10.5.1. An application of a fungicide and insecticide at this timing helps ensure success by preventing yield loss from disease and insect pests.

2. Nitrogen Timing - Split-applying nitrogen (N) decreases your risk of N loss from various mechanisms. Ensuring an adequate supply at key growth stages is critical, which is why Beck’s PFR recommends split applications of N. Consult with your local Beck’s representative for the best N management plan for your conditions.

3. Seeding Rates - Beck’s PFR data has shown that in both 7.5 in. and 15 in. row spacings, 15 to 20 seeds/ft. of row provides the greatest economic return on investment. Industry and university data recommendations have recommended 25 seeds/ft. of row for years. Although bushel differences between the various populations were small, the best return over multiple years has been achieved at less than 25 seeds/ft. of row.

4. Closing Wheels - Seed-to-soil contact is of utmost importance for achieving stand establishment. Consider utilizing after-market closing wheels to achieve a successful stand and maximum yield potential.

5. Plant Growth Regulator and Sugar - Palisade® EC is a plant growth regulator that reduces lodging by shortening internode length and allows the plant to put that energy into the head. This also reduces the amount of straw which can be an issue for those that do not bale. Sugar provides an additional source of carbon, and although the response mechanisms are not well understood, the low cost of sugar means that small yield responses can be profitable.

WHEAT: MANAGEMENT - PRE-PLANT AND FALL TIMING

Pre-plant and planting applications are the most critical passes through the field each growing season. Ensuring that fields are weed free, that there are proper nutrients in the soil, and making a perfect planting pass contribute to a successful, high-yielding crop. Here are some helpful products and practices to ensure your winter wheat crop gets off to a great start.

WEED MANAGEMENT - Weed-free fields are always necessary when producing high-yielding crops. A proactive approach is always better than a reactive approach. Tillage is the main form of weed control in the fall that can help prepare an excellent seedbed for planting. Many herbicides are available to spray in the fall, but be mindful of rates and timings. A few of these herbicides include:

  • Sharpen®: An excellent pre-plant burndown option that provides soil activity when applied above a 1 gal./A. rate.
  • Zidua®: This herbicide is excellent for grasses (cereal rye and ryegrass) and broadleaf weeds. It’s a great delayed pre-emergent option when 80% of the seedlings have a 0.5 in. shoot.
  • Metribuzin: An excellent burndown that should be sprayed after the two-leaf stage.

FERTILITY - Proper crop nutrition is arguably the most important factor in growing any high-yielding crop.

NITROGEN AND SULFUR -Applying 30 units of nitrogen/A. and 5 to 10 units of sulfur/A. at pre-plant can provide the wheat crop with just enough nutrition to aid in early-season growth, tillering, and overall increased plant health.

PHOSPHOROUS - Besides nitrogen and sulfur, phosphorous is another important fertility factor to consider at pre-plant. Winter wheat will often go through a winter phase where there can be temperature fluctuations. When this happens, the wheat will have an abnormally reddish-purple color resulting from a lack of phosphorous uptake in the plant. Applying phosphorous fertilizers can help prevent this.

POTASSIUM AND SOIL PH - Ensuring proper potassium levels and soil pH are always important when raising winter wheat.

PLANTING DATE - Planting date can arguably have the most significant impact on winter wheat grain yield. Early planting dates (late September through early October) can be more conducive for early-season growth and tillering, leading to higher grain yields. Beck’s Ohio PFR data indicates that September 27 through October 4 is the best time to plant wheat. Likewise, Southern Illinois saw similar results, with planting dates during the first ten days of October providing the highest yields. When planting wheat earlier in the season, it is always important to consider Hessian fly-free dates.

PLANTING POPULATION - Targeting 15 to 20 seeds/ft. of row has shown the greatest economic return on investment (ROI) in Beck’s PFR data. Industry and university data recommendations have been standard at 25 seeds/ft. of row for years. Although the bushel differences between the different populations were minor, the best return over multiple years has been less than 25 seeds/ ft. of row. The higher ROI is from a reduced seed cost and because the plants likely possessed an increased number of tillers. Like soybeans branching out at lower planting populations, wheat can do the same. It will tiller out and help fill the space while producing more wheat heads. It can be an excellent way to maximize ROI and yield.

HOWEVER, THERE ARE A FEW THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND: 

  • 15 to 20 seeds/ft. of row works well when the wheat undergoes adequate growing conditions in the fall and early spring.
  • Adequate conditions allow for an increased number of tillers to be produced, which allow for lowering planting populations.
  • The amount of tillering is never certain, so increasing planting populations to ensure as many main stems as possible is essential in producing a high-yielding wheat crop.
  • When planting/growing conditions may limit germination and/or fall tillering, some areas have found that seeding rates of 1.5 to 1.7 million seeds/A. (20 to 23 seeds/ft. in a 7 in. row) have provided performance advantages over lower seeding rates.

PLANTING DEPTH - Planting depth is always an important consideration when planting any crop. The seed must be placed deep enough with adequate soil moisture and shallow enough to allow the crop to emerge. Planting depth is also important for the development of root structures. Beck’s three-year, multi-location data shows that a depth of 1 in. is optimal when planting wheat.

When growing any crop, you must look at it from a systems approach. All the above factors play at least a small role in producing a high-yield winter wheat crop. Clean fields, proper nutrition, and a perfect planting pass all contribute to a proper start to the growing season.

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Author: Maggie Holt

Categories: PFR

Tags: Wheat, PFR, PFR Proven, pfr proven wheat

Maggie Holt
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Maggie Holt

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