Time to Decide to Manage Wheat


Many producers planted wheat this year as ‘maybe’ crop.  If prices came up, it would be managed and harvested, if not, it would simply be a cover crop.  Don Nicholson, regional agronomist with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture says it’s getting to be time to make that decision:

“Yes, ma’am, we’ve got to go out and count the tillers we have, we’re looking for 80 to 100 of wheat tillers per square foot in order to make a really decent crop.

At this time of year you need to go out and count them, find out how many you have and if you have less than 50 or 60, you probably need to put 25-30 pounds of nitrogen on at this point and get that tiller count up, and then put the balance of your nitrogen on later.

Before you put that balance of nitrogen on I suggest you get a tissue sample done, send it to our lab, and you can do a small test that goes along with it, it doesn’t cost anything extra to find out…takes into account the size of the plant, and how much nitrogen is in it, and we can give you a good idea of how much more nitrogen you need on that wheat crop.  If you put too much, it will lay down on you, and if you don’t put enough, it will run out of nitrogen at the end of grain fill, and you won’t have the test weight you’re looking for.”

You know, farmers have been a little reluctant to eve deal with wheat this year but prices have bounced a little here in the last few days, and it’s looking more attractive to go ahead and manage that crop.

“There was a lot of wheat planted, they planted it with the intent of maybe putting some nitrogen to it, or maybe not, just use it as a cover crop.  Now is the time that if you’re going to make that cover crop into a wheat crop, now is the time to start managing it.”

Regional Agronomist with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, Don Nicholson

A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.