Southern Spotlight: What To Do With An Awesome Stand Of Wheat

James Banahan

James Banahan

Top dress is coming up within a few weeks, and we have a lot of reasons to be pretty darn happy right now.  The snow has melted and revealed some awesome stands of wheat.

This isn’t totally surprising.  Most of the second year wheat had some great growth before going dormant.  It was thick, lush, green—everything we wanted it to be.  (am I right Tobey?)

But.

This great stand that we’re starting the season with is going to need some effort from us to continue to be such a great stand.  And with the spring coming in on the wind, we’re going to soon have to make some decisions about what is to be done.

Regardless of their current awesomeness, our wheat plants are still susceptible to disease.  Just as the measles outbreak started at Disneyland—one child infected others—so can a disease outbreak start in our fields.  Rust stripe issues are already popping up to the south of us and with the warm southern winds and moisture we’ve received, the potential for a rust outbreak in our fields is very real.  The dense growth and warm and wet conditions also give us a fair chance of powdery mildew showing up in fields as well.

Just as we have tools to fight an outbreak of the measles though, so too do we have tools to fight infection in our fields.

Data from our RD plots, university and manufacturer plot data shows an average of a 3-5 bushel increase from using a fungicide at green up.  Using fungicide to fight infection in our wheat stands brings with it multiple other benefits.  It is a maximally efficient decision as it presents the potential for a lower use rate on smaller wheat and can be tank mixed, thus maximizing the efficiency of trips through our fields.  Most importantly, fungicide encourages health and robustness in wheat.  Healthy, robust wheat weighs more, which makes for more bushels, which makes for more profits.

With our great stands and increased moisture, we have to be careful not to shortchange our plants on fertility as well.  Sure, wheat isn’t $8 at the elevator right now, but the math still falls in our favor regardless.  Two pounds of Nitrogen costs just $1, and $1 of Nitrogen can make over $4 of wheat.  That’s what we call a 4:1 return on investment, which isn’t too shabby at all.

Anyone willing to give me $4 for $1—you’re welcome to find my contact info above…