From Kansas Wheat
Proper wheat seed placement and healthy establishment of seedling wheat are essential in getting this fall's wheat crop off to a proper start, and provide the best opportunity for a successful 2010 harvest. Phil Needham, an agronomist from Kentucky who specializes in wheat production, suggests that before the crunch of planting season hits, producers should plan for success by carefully checking seeding equipment and deciding which fungicide seed treatment to apply to wheat seed.
Whether the grain drill is a no-till or conventional model, now is a good time to check grain drill wear points, bearings, bushings and openers.
"I'm going to suggest that about half the drills out there in the industry are not ready to go to the field but many of them will go to the field, with little or no maintenance," he says.
Any area of the drill that looks suspect should be repaired or replaced. Taking care to do that now, Needham says, will reduce downtime during planting, and improve seed placement.
"I don't want to see a producer compromising plant emergence, or seedling emergence, because the drill was wore out in certain areas. Now is a good time to look at seeding equipment and see which areas need time and investment," he adds.
Seedling emergence can be vastly improved by using a fungicide seed treatment. Properly applying and using a fungicide product is not only important, it can be profitable. Needham suggests that most unbiased data indicates that a fungicide seed treatment application on seed wheat will at least pay for itself, if not add extra profit to a wheat producer's bottom line.
"I'm a huge advocate of treating seed," he says. "But it is important that all seed is treated accurately and evenly. Many producers struggle with that. Every seed needs as close as possible to the same amount of treatment. If half the seeds are treated with seed treatment insecticide, it's like treating half the field."
In most cases, wheat producers do a good job of soil testing prior to planting and correcting any nutrient deficiencies that may occur. However, Needham suggests farmers could obtain more information about fertility programs by taking a tissue test a few weeks after dormancy breaks in the spring. Soil sampling, he says, illustrates which nutrients are present in the soil, but they are not always taken up by the plant. Tissue testing allows producers to see which nutrients in the plants are low, and could still be applied to protect yield potential.
As long as you take a tissue test early you can apply most of the elements, including chloride, sulfur and nitrogen, in the spring," he says.