Wheat Fertility Considerations

For the most part, we’re in much better shape than we were this time last year.  Our wheat fields have pretty decent color and seem to be growing well.  The warm winter we’re having is pushing the wheat pretty fast.

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Lots of folks are thinking about applying nitrogen while its dry and they can get in the fields.  I would caution you not to jump too quickly at this opportunity.  The smartest thing we can do when deciding whether to apply N is to do some tiller counts.  We want to see at least 50 tillers per square foot, so 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).

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Plants in this field averaged 4 tillers per plant.

Digging the plants up makes it a whole lot easier to count.  In the field above, the average tiller count was nearly 130 per sq ft.  The only N applied so far was 50 units put out prior to planting.  Since this field has such a high tiller count, putting any more N in this field right now would be a waste of money.  Who wouldn’t want to save a little money after the last couple years we’ve had.  Putting about 40 units out shortly before jointing will still be a good idea.  That will bring the total N up to 90 units.

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Plants in this younger field haven’t tillered as much yet, but they’re still where we want them to be.

The field above was planted a few weeks later than the wheat from previous photo.  Naturally this field is behind the other in tillering, but it still had over 60 tillers per sq ft, so we’re still in good shape.

Take a look at the “Fertility” and “Tiller Counts” sections of the Wheat Cheat Sheet for more info.

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