Spring Wheat: Six Steps to Start Strong
NORTH DAKOTA — The first step toward growing more wheat is to start strong by choosing the best management practices and products to protect your investment. To help build the management plan that’s best for your field, consider the 6 steps below to get head of spring wheat problems and produce a more profitable crop:
- Consult with your local agronomist to determine the ideal window for field preparation, planting and early-season scouting. Agronomists can also provide insight into how soil temperatures and current weather conditions may impact planting and early-season pest pressure.
- Implement an integrated crop management plan to ensure optimal stand establishment and protect against yield-robbing soilborne diseases.
- Clear fields of residual weeds. It’s important to establish a clean, weed-free field at least 2 weeks before planting wheat. If not, insects and diseases living in previous crop residue or remaining weeds can travel to newly emerging wheat and other spring crops. For optimum weed control, apply a quality burndown, preplant or preemergence herbicide to control a broad spectrum of broadleaf and grass weeds. Beginning the season with a clean field gives crops the best chance for a uniform start.
- Select fresh, clean, certified seed to address local challenges. Planting certified seed varieties helps ensure genetic purity, smoother plant-ability, seedling vigor and improved germination and emergence. Research shows that certified seed varieties consistently outperform saved seed in yield, quality and test weight.
- Protect the seed. Consider an insecticide seed treatment to provide protection against some of the most destructive wheat and barley insects, including wireworms, Hessian fly and aphids. As you consider an insecticide, you should also consider choosing a fungicide seed treatment, to protect against a broad range of seedborne and soilborne diseases, such as Rhizoctonia and Pythium.
- Scout early and often. Scouting is important at several stages of the growing season, and it’s best to start early. The first scouting trip should be to identify the pest species already present. After initial product applications, scout 2 to 3 weeks later to ensure good control has been achieved. Maintain consistent scouting practices throughout the season and increase the frequency as needed during times of high pest pressure.
By following these steps and being proactive, you can get ahead of problems and pests, and ultimately produce more profitable wheat.
Submitted by Nathan Popiel, agronomic service representative.
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