Published on Monday, February 13, 2017
Although Punxsutawney Phil is forecasting six more weeks of winter, the wheat across Missouri is coming out of dormancy and will be heading out before we know it. With the favorable fall growing conditions and mild winter we experienced, it looks like we are prepared for another great wheat harvest. Throughout the state, we have had very good tiller growth and winter survivability overall.
Now is the time that many of you will be making your management decisions for the rest of the growing season, including those plans for your first spring nitrogen (N) application. With the way the markets are, making these decisions based on the best return on investment (ROI) is a necessity. Luckily, Beck’s Practical Farm Research (PFR)® has some excellent data that can help you make these decisions. The following studies are from Beck’s Southern Illinois PFR site.
First, let’s consider our economic optimum nitrogen rate (EONR). As you can see in the graph below, the two-year EONR is between 110 and 120 units, depending on the price per unit of N.
However, in 2016, the EONR at the Effingham, IL site was actually 140 units. This discrepancy was most likely due to excessive spring moisture that sped up N loss. Which leads us to our next study, on N management.
There are a few considerations to take into account before making your N applications to wheat. The most important thing is to make sure the plant has the N available when it needs it most. If it has leached or volatized, it is not plant available. When we consider this three-year study detailed in the graph below, the most profitable method is to split apply your N. Split applications actually provided a better return than a common N stabilization product. In this instance, a split application means 120 total units were applied, 50 units at Feekes 3 followed by 70 units at Feekes 5. The control had 120 units applied at Feekes 3, as did the N stabilizer treatment. The rate of Agrotain® Plus used was 15 lb./ton.
When discussing increased N rates on wheat, one thing that always comes up is lodging. A product that is often recommended to stop lodging at higher N rates is Palisade®, a plant growth regulator (PGR) from Syngenta. Palisade is intended to shorten the internodes and strengthen stems by inhibiting cell elongation. We tested it in 2016 and the results are pretty impressive.
As you can see, we saw a positive return using Palisade at both 120 and 140 units of N, but in order to maximize the ROI for this product the rate needed to be adjusted accordingly. At the 120-unit rate, 6 oz. of Palisade was more effective whereas the 12 oz. rate had a higher return on the higher rate of N.
After N is applied and our wheat approaches maturity, there is one more crucial management decision to make. To make a fungicide application or not? In this instance, we considered an at-flowering application of Prosaro® fungicide. One of the major concerns in wheat is head scab as it creates lightweight kernels and produces the mycotoxin called vomitoxin. At-flower fungicide applications have become more and more popular to prevent head scab and all the issues that come along with it. So the real question is, does it make economic sense to make this application year in and year out?
Our 2016 results show that it does make economic sense. As you can see from the chart above, even in a high-yielding year where the control made 119 Bu./A., we still saw a 4.3 Bu./A. increase and a $5.91 ROI advantage with Prosaro, and that was without head scab pressure.
In summary, we are off to a great start for wheat in 2017 but there are still plenty of management decisions to be made. Hopefully Beck’s PFR studies have helped guide you along your high-yield journey. As always, these are very good starting points for you to consider adding to your wheat management program but if you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact your seed advisor, field agronomist or PFR agronomists!
Agrotrain® is a registered trademark of Koch Agronomic Services, LLC. Palisade® is a registered trademark of a Syngenta Group Company. Prosaro® is a registered trademark of Bayer CropScience.
Author: Alex Long
Categories: PFR, PFR Reports
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