Now Is Good Time To Respond To Wheat Stages

 January-February is a good time for wheat growers 
 to review management decisions.

 Photo courtesy of Tyler Mudd

   January and February are good months to make wheat management decisions, according to a University of Missouri Extension agronomist in southeastern Missouri.
   Wheat maturity does not follow a calendar. Instead, wheat development depends on weather and planting date, says Anthony Ohmes.
   Wheat’s growth stages help producers decide when in spring to top-dress nitrogen to improve tiller development and stands. Growth stages also indicate when it’s time to apply post-emergence herbicides for weed control, and scout for soil-borne viral diseases and early-season foliar diseases. Livestock producers also should remove grazing cattle just prior to wheat’s jointing when the base of the stem is hollow, Ohmes says.
   Ohmes suggests Purdue University’s free guide “Managing Wheat by Growth Stage” at
   “Initial evaluation of fields should include overall condition of stand and number of tillers present,” he says. “With the warm fall and December, wheat tiller numbers may be more than 80 per square foot. When tiller numbers reach approximately 80 or more, hold off nitrogen applications until pre-jointing green-up.”
   This practice also may reduce nitrogen loss and excessive early spring growth that can reduce sensitivity to freeze injury. Fields with fewer than 80 tillers per square foot in the fall to late winter may benefit from split applications of nitrogen.
   Ohmes recommends urease inhibitors containing the active ingredient NBPT when applying urea-based fertilizer. He also recommends tissue tests just before jointing to determine nitrogen needs at jointing.
   Sandy, low-organic-matter soils of southeastern Missouri will benefit from applying sulfur at 10 to 15 pounds per acre at pre-jointing green-up. Use sulfate sulfur found in products such as ammonium sulfate for spring sulfur, he says.
   For more information, the MU Extension guide “Management of Soft Red Winter Wheat” is available for free download at . ∆
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