This time of year we are trying to decide whether we need to fertilize our wheat. A good indicator is the number of tillers present in a square foot. The wheat in the picture below is on a 7.5″ spacing, so we would need to count the number of tillers in 19″ of row (7.5 x 19 = 144 square inches or 1 square foot). Clemson University recommends at least 50 tillers per square foot. This field was averaging 30-35, so the grower is going to apply 70-80 lbs of N.
In the picture below, you can see the tillers on the wheat plants. Each tiller will produce a seed head later in the season, so the more the merrier. The plants on the left and the middle each have three tillers and the one on the right has four.
The wheat in the picture below has been fertilized adequately and averaged 130-150 tillers per square foot.
For more information on wheat production, take a look at this “Wheat Cheat Sheet” from Clemson Extension. http://www.clemson.edu/extension/rowcrops/small_grains/pdfs/CHEAT_13-14.pdf