Crops Insights

Bayer has 10 tips to boost winter wheat yields


We’re heading into the time of year when farmers plant winter wheat. The bad news is that the USDA is predicting that the seeded area for this year is expected to fall 7 percent when compared with 2015. The good news is that Bayer CropScience has some advice for maximizing your return on investment.

There’s no guarantee, of course, because so much goes into the end result of bushels and profits. But this listed, originally posted on Bayer’s website as one of its Learning Center articles, will serve you well.

Harvest practices
Spread straw and chaff residue properly with the combine at harvest to help set the stage for optimal field conditions for planting winter wheat. Too much residue can delay emergence. Adjust residue spreading to match the width of your combine platform for best results.

Variety selection
Consult with local seed dealers, review results of university Extension variety trials and choose the best seed variety for regional environmental conditions and individual farming practices.

Seed genetics
Plant a newer wheat variety that has been commercially tested for five years. This may help boost yields by 10 bushels or more per acre versus older wheat varieties. Look for certified seed genetics that provide good winter hardiness, tolerance to disease, and good standability under the high nitrogen fertility.

Seed treatments
Protect young wheat seedlings and cost-effectively manage risk with seed treated with a fungicide and an insecticide to protect against common fungal soilborne diseases and insect problems.

Soil testing
Gauge fertility by taking soil samples to maintain optimum soil nutrient levels.

Fertility levels
Restore more nutrients to the soil than were removed during harvest of the previous crop. For example, applying phosphorous at seeding can aid winter survival.

Nitrogen management
Maintain high nitrogen levels for high-yielding winter wheat. Critical timing for nitrogen application comes at seeding, V-5 stem elongation and prior to heading. Many experts recommend split nitrogen applications to reduce lodging and enhance wheat quality.

Seedbed preparation
Plant winter wheat in standing stubble, if possible. While stubble may harbor disease, it also provides a good source for the retention of valuable soil moisture from snow and rainfall, which will help nourish the new crop.

Seeding dates
Choose planting dates depending upon the growing region and weather. Optimum seeding dates range from September through the first 10 days of October. Wheat seed needs adequate moisture and growing degree days to germinate and enough cold temperatures to vernalize prior to spring.

Pest management
Control weed, disease, and insect pressures with timely scouting and identification for top yields. Seed treatments, wheat varieties with built-in resistance, and foliar herbicide, fungicide and insecticide applications go a long way to protect yields from pest threats.

To learn more about Bayer’s offerings, visit Bayer CropScience online.

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