Time to Fertilize Winter Wheat

Yesterday, we heard from NC State Extension’s Small Grain Specialist Dr. Randy Weisz on the cooler weather predicted for the weekend not being enough to slow down the rapidly maturing wheat crop. Today, Weisz says that it’s time to apply a first split of nitrogen, but pay close attention to the condition of your crop:
 

“Ideal time for that first split is the last week of January, first week of February…still time, if growers have a very thin field, then growers need to think about getting 60 pounds out there as soon as possible, and as it thickens up, the rate goes down to zero.”
 

The warm winter has allowed for some very tall, thick wheat fields and this situation needs attention, according to Weisz. He recommends grazing if possible, but if not, mowing of 12 to 18 inch wheat is a second option to prevent the crop from falling over and lodging:
 

“You want to get your mower set down to about as low as you can get it without tearing out the roots of the plant, three inches would be a good height. And that twill open up the canopy, and get rid of a lot of the leafy material that’s weighting the crop down, and also set the crop back.”
 

While mowing or grazing may slow the crop down for now, Weisz says it’s possible that it may not be enough. If a wheat field is looking like it might fall over, or lodge, Weisz has this recommendation:
 

“Cerone is an option. Cerone is a growth regulator that will work but it cannot be applied until the flag leaf is fully out, and it must be applied before the boot splits and you can see the head peeking out of the boot. And it’s not going to do any good if the crop is already lodged.”
 

The weather has also allowed for the development of powdery mildew in some areas. Weisz recommends a tank mix of fungicide with the fertilizer application if powdery mildew is present.
 


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