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PLAN FOR A SUCCESSFUL WINTER WHEAT CROP

It’s time to look ahead and plan for a successful 2020 growing season. Taking a drive around the countryside, it’s hard to draw your eyes away from the healthy-looking wheat crop. This year, we find ourselves in a different situation compared to last year. With few wheat acres surviving the winter, the decision to burn off fields to replant to corn or soybeans backfired with the wet spring. With the acres left unseeded, this challenge turned into an opportunity to seed winter wheat through the middle of September into the first part of October. Aside from this, as the soybean crop matured more quickly than anticipated which allowed wheat to be planted around the optimum planting dates.
 
Wheat is the most management responsive crop we grow next to corn. As seen last year, the issue with low wheat yields is late planting- this year is a little different.
 
As crop planning for 2020 is beginning to ramp up, it is time to start planning management decisions for a wheat program- let’s start with nitrogen rates. The big question is “how many pounds of nitrogen should I apply?” Nitrogen rates should be determined on a field by field basis. The first thing to think about is the environment. When looking at a high yielding environment with good soil fertility or manure, we want to watch nitrogen rates as the risk of lodging increases as the nitrogen rate increases. Lodging is a major limiting factor in attaining high yields from increased nitrogen fertilization.
 
The next thing to think about is planting date and how high of a population that was planted. A thick stand and early planting date will result in more developed tillers which will also increase the lodging risk. In both of these situations, we need to consider applying a Plant Growth Regulator.
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