Many North Central Kansas and South Central Nebraska farmers have just completed the 2014 Weed Harvest….or uh, excuse me Wheat Harvest. Mother Nature threw some wicked curve balls to the wheat crop and few were able to recover. But one theme stayed true for a base hit and perhaps even a homerun in 2014: if you survived the winter kill from drought this winter, or any of the freezes or late frosts this spring, a weed management program and a plant health fungicide treatment paid off handsomely. Traditionally, the golden waving of wheat is a beautiful sight in June and July; but the view from the combine for many this year was green and unsightly, resulting in somewhat of a complicated grain harvest or maybe even no harvest.
So what has the troublesome weedy wheat fields left our producers with? Choices! Choices for developing an improved management system in their wheat production, choices for spraying their wheat stubble sooner than later and helping control herbicide resistant weeds while conserving moisture, and choices for implementing a fall program to assist in spring weed management.
It can all start now. Weed management to conserve the moisture in your wheat stubble and stop the weed bank from making more deposits, weed management for the crops that will be planted into your wheat stubble and planning for a fall program.
One pigweed left to go to seed can produce from 100,000-600,000 seeds, so just think about herbicide control at a 90% success level, that still leaves 10,000-60,000 seeds that could produce plants. Just 1-3 weeds per 10 foot of row can reduce yields from 20-40% – and this isn’t even considering resistant weeds.
Spraying your wheat stubble immediately after harvest gains you the ability to conserve moisture by not having yield robbing and moisture sucking weeds. This also buys you some time to consider what fall plan you want to put in place for future weed control. A fall residual treatment will take down the toughest to control fall and spring weeds and keep them down until planting, giving you more flexibility with your spring herbicide options.
Plant Health Fungicide
Wheat is not our highest returning cash crop that we plant in our UFC geography. In fact, it is the lowest returning. However, the remaining stubble that catches our winter snows (when they come) and the residue that helps prevent erosion and water loss from the rains (when they come) are priceless for the corn crop that is planted in the stubble the following spring.
So, if wheat is our lowest returning cash crop, why would you have any interest in a plant health fungicide treatment at top-dress? A plant health treatment, preferably in conjunction with a nutrient application, will help mitigate early disease pressure and environmental stresses. An investment of only 1.5 bushels of wheat proved to pay for itself and in many instances gained 4-15 bu/ac over the check. An additional 1.8 bushels paid for a chloride treatment at the same time in Cl deficient soils and gained 2-4 bushels over the check. The entire plant stayed healthier and, combined with the chloride, helped preserve the flag leaf for grain development. Again, you have choices; wheat may never be our highest returning cash crop, but that doesn’t mean you should abandon the crop and settle for breakeven returns. UFC is constantly striving to bring more value to your farm. With our RD platform, we will continue to look at products, innovations and practices that will bring a return to each of your crops and we will prove it locally, so that you can make the choice to improve your return on investment.
We all have choices…..what choice will you make? For any questions on weed control, plant health or nutrients in your wheat crop, please contact your local UFC Field Sales Agronomist to assist you with your choices.