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Winter Wheat Update

What's going on in wheat fields?

Well, the sun peaked out for a bit on the weekend. But I don’t think we’re quite out of the woods yet. Cool nights are hampering spray applications. Here are a few things to keep in mind over the next few days as you endeavor to spray your wheat. Herbicides - 1. The wheat is not actively growing or barely actively growing, which means it is unable to process chemistry that is applied, so use caution. The manufacturers would like to see above 3° the day before, the day of, AND the day after an application. In my experience as long as we have temperatures consistently above zero there is no impact on your wheat. 2. We are seeing fairly significant leaf tip scorch in some varieties of wheat. Some scorch is from frost, some is from fungicide applications and the most significant is when tank mixing a growth regulator plus a fungicide in the same mix. If you plan to apply a growth regulator with a fungicide and herbicide be sure to have actively growing wheat and use higher water volumes, 20 gallons/acre or more, this will minimize the scorch effect on your wheat. 3. In the news and on social media, everyone is talking about big wheat, advanced wheat, early weeds etc... and we certainly started our season that way. However, with this cold spell for the past two weeks, we are now at a more normal development stage for this time of year. So we’ve gone from a 7-10 day early crop to a normal timeline. There are a few exceptions in very early seeded fields, but for the most part that’s where we’re at. 2nd pass N - In some cases producers are applying their second pass of nitrogen, this is a story of agronomics vs. logistics. Agronomically, your best window for a second application of nitrogen is between second node and flag leaf. The goal is to have ample nitrogen available to provide significant yield benefits during grain fill to fill as many kernels as possible as well as make protein for hard red wheat growers. Second node wheat is just beginning in the most advanced fields, so we’re hardly at the correct agronomic timing for second pass of nitrogen. That being said, there is a tremendous workload coming when fields dry up, and understandably the priority will be on seeding and herbicide applications. Therefore, it’s understandable, logistically to get those nitrogen applications done and out of the way. There’s no right or wrong answer for this one it’s more just about what works best for your business for the next 10 days. Disease pressure - Yes there is some disease pressure. We are seeing significantly more powdery mildew than we’ve seen in several years. Powdery mildew looks dramatic, but when wheat is only 8 inches tall and at the first note stage, there is absolutely no yield impact from this disease. Now as the wheat develops, that disease inoculum is currently in the canopy. It can and will spread if conditions are right, particularly if a variety of wheat has a known weakness to powdery mildew, so we will continue to monitor and keep you advised. Wheat stands are significantly thicker and denser than we’ve seen in several years as well, with significant tillering. Good growth sets us up for high-yielding wheat. However, the thicker the canopy, typically means a higher risk for disease development. Just keep this in mind as you're making decisions over the next few weeks in your wheat crop. Growth regulators - These products are designed to shorten and stiffen stems and minimize lodging risk. They will not increase the yield in wheat unless there is a significant lodging risk. In fact, if done incorrectly, you can lose yield using a plant growth regulator. Please use caution around cold temperatures when using these products to avoid a negative impact on your wheat. One side effect of this cold, overcast period that we’ve just come out of, is that wheat typically grows shorter under these stressed conditions. So a natural shortener vs. a plant growth regulator. I expect these crops have fixed themselves from most of our lodging risk for 2021. Keep in mind - After a two-week stretch of cold and overcast conditions, leaf tissue is very succulent and prone to scorch as there is little to no cuticle on the leaves of the wheat. You will see significantly more scorch over the next 5 to 7 days than you would typically see in mid-May. As long as we are only impacting lower leaves, I don’t expect any significant damage overall to the wheat crop. Increasing water volume reduces scorch. Lastly. We have found egg masses for cereal leaf beetle in a very low amount. Some areas are known hotspots for this pest every year. Feeding from this pest often reaches a critical stage amount at or just after heading. We will continue to monitor its development over the next few weeks.

Twitter photo Marijke Vanderlaan

Deb Campbell 519-323-6166

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