The Macro and Micros of Wheat

Mar 23, 2020

             There’s a lot of factors that go into raising high yielding wheat.  Wheat yields today are far better than the yields of 20 or even 15 years ago.  In order to keep the upward trend going, we want to make sure we are feeding our crop and our soil.  This starts with a good understanding of what macronutrients and micronutrients our wheat needs.  Below are some considerations to think about when building your wheat fertility plan for 2020.
The Macros
               Its no secret nitrogen is the biggest input, both agronomically and financially, we need for improved yields.  Split applying nitrogen gives you the power to evaluate crop and weather conditions in season.  This is a tool you can use to dial in the correct amount of N your crop needs, when it needs it.  Phosphorus is vital for plant development from the seedling stage through maturity.  Soil P has been trending downwards throughout the state due to large acres of soybeans.  P placed with or next to the seed will improve germination and vigor for the wheat seedling.  Sufficient P fertility also plays a huge role in uniform heading and faster maturity.  Potassium has everything in the world to do with stalk strength.  Adequate K fertility allows you to push N rates without lodging the plant.  With the application of K fertilizer, you also get chloride.  Wheat has well documented yield response to chloride.  Sulfur was considered a secondary nutrient until recently.  The last five years we’ve seen more sulfur deficiency mistaken as nitrogen deficiency than ever before.  Sulfur is a building block for proteins, like nitrogen, and a key ingredient for chlorophyll formation.  Without enough sulfur its impossible for the plant to achieve full yield potential or protein content.
The Micros
               Yields, of any crop, are only as has high as the biggest yield limiting factor.  This means you can have the macro fertility to support the yield of a 100 bushel wheat crop but could be limited by the zinc fertility of a 40 bushel crop.  Micronutrients can be the difference of breaking even and profit.  Wheat with sufficient zinc fertility displays better emergence, root growth, vigor, and stand establishment.  Zinc also plays a role in protein synthesis.  A small investment in zinc can pay huge dividends come harvest time.  Copper has been a buzz micronutrient in wheat fertility the last five years and for good reason.  Copper is critical for chlorophyll production, protein synthesis, and pollination.  Low copper levels can cause your wheat plant to have florets the remain partially open.  This give diseases, such as ergot, opportunity to infect plants and compromise yield.
              Fertility is just one piece of the yield puzzle.  Its important to make sure you are setting your crop up for success in 2020.  I hope this information helps you achieve that success.  If you have any questions about macro or micronutrients for any crop, give your local Allied Agronomy agronomist a call.

This article is an opinion and not a base for trading decisions.  Allied Agronomy and the author are not responsible for decisions made based on this article.

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