Growing Knowledge

Read the latest insights from our experts as they cover agronomy issues that matter most to you and your operation.

A Winning Option for Spring Wheat

Mark Torno
CROPLAN® Diverse Field Crops Marketing Manager
Reliability and stability are key ingredients for wheat seed, particularly if it is grown on variable soils. And having two varieties in one bag — pairing one that has a particular strength with another that has a completely different but complementary one — can help.
 
A WinPak® spring wheat variety from CROPLAN® seed offers a unique combination of two varieties that provides an exceptional level of stability throughout the field. WinPak varieties work together to increase yield potential by reducing risk from field variability, weather and soil conditions, and disease complexes. If you’re looking for a wheat seed option that performs well in variable conditions and under environmental pressures, here are some reasons to consider planting a WinPak variety.
 
Stability
There’s the value that comes with achieving the highest yield, and then there’s the value that comes with reliability and consistency. That’s where a WinPak wheat variety proves itself: We combine two products that work together to increase yield potential on tough acres while maintaining yield in higher-producing areas. Data has shown a synergistic effect that comes from having two types of seed in the bag. When one variety may not be at the top of the list in certain aspects, the other variety can compensate.
 
More genetics
No farmer gets excited about cleaning out the seeder and switching between varieties. Even though a farmer might want more genetics on the farm, it’s a lot of work that takes up valuable time. A WinPak variety provides two genetic backgrounds, and farmers only have to plant once.
 
Standability
If one seed component in a WinPak variety has a stronger standability rating than the other, it tends to bolster the second one. This nets out better than separately growing a variety with a less-desirable standability rating and another with a strong rating.
 
The power of two
CROPLAN currently offers one spring wheat WinPak variety, CP3888, which is a combination of CP3616 and CP3504. This WinPak variety has a number of features and benefits, including:
  • Excellent yield potential, strong protein
  • Strong disease package, great candidate for fungicide applications at flag leaf and heading
  • High response-to-nitrogen rating for peak protein advantage
 
For more information on WinPak varieties from CROPLAN seed and new varieties that are in the works, talk with your local trusted advisor.

Enhance Your Variable-Rate Fertility on Wheat

Chris Heidrich
Are you looking to boost the yield and ROI potential of your wheat crop? If so, more intense, targeted nutrient management in areas where it will be most effective could help you push your crop to the next level of bushels per acre and protein content. Here are some tips to help you optimize fertility in your fields.
 
1. Start with a soil sample.
Zone soil sampling can give you valuable information about nutrient variability in your wheat fields and, depending on your region, can be more cost-effective than grid sampling. Talk with your local trusted advisor about getting soil samples now prior to freeze-up and snow cover.
 
2. Choose the right varieties.
Ask your advisor how the Characterization Charts (CHT Tool) function of the R7® Tool can help you choose the wheat varieties that will best meet your production goals. High management on varieties with high response-to-population, response-to-nitrogen and response-to-fungicide scores can help you boost both yield and quality potential at harvest. If you do choose a high-management variety, work with your agronomist to time input applications appropriately.
 
3. Manage by zones.
Establishing yield goals by zones is critical to help determine how much fertility you need to apply in each area. Work with your advisor next season to use satellite imagery, prior year crop removal and past yield results to set yield goals for each management zone on your operation with the R7 Tool.
 
4. Pay attention to nitrogen and sulfur.
These macronutrients play important roles in wheat development and in quality and protein content at the end of the season. If your nitrogen-to-sulfur ratios are optimal late in the season, you have a better chance of achieving the protein and quality levels you desire. A number of farmers use variable-rate split nitrogen, which is an application of nitrogen at the beginning of the season, with another at flag leaf or post-flowering for a protein boost.
 
5. Look at the data.
In 2015, 2016 and 2017, my colleagues and I performed side-by-side variable-rate and static-rate checks on farms in western North Dakota and eastern Montana where variable-rate fertility applications were being performed on wheat for the first time. These were not scientific trials and there was no attempt to replicate the trials. The objective was to give farmers some perspective on how variable-rate fertility applications could potentially impact yield in their fields.
 
As we compiled yield data from the trials, we found crops that received variable-rate treatments outyielded the static strip by an average of nearly 4 bushels per acre.*
 
Selecting the right varieties, getting population right, doing variable-rate nutrient applications, and using technology to detect disease and weed pressures can help you give your wheat crop the level of management it deserves. And help you reach the goals you want to achieve. 
 
 
* Source: 2015–2017 customer field trials (52 locations in Montana and North Dakota). Because of factors outside of WinField United's control, such as weather, applicator factors, etc., results to be obtained, including but not limited to yields, financial performance, or profits, cannot be predicted or guaranteed by WinField United. Actual results may vary.
 
© 2018 WinField United. R7® and WinField® are trademarks of WinField United.
 

How Healthy Were Crops in 2017?

WinField United
Agronomy Team
Across the country, farmers experienced another dynamic growing season in 2017. From widespread drought to flooding rains, farmers dealt with environmental conditions that required in-season management adjustments to maintain crop health. Tissue sampling proved to be a valuable tool to help guide plant nutrition decisions. Farmers who conducted tissue sampling and analyses in 2016 may have seen different nutrient deficiencies in 2017, requiring them to adjust their fertilization plans in-season.

Nutrient Trends and Insights
Here are some nationwide nutrient trends revealed by tissue analysis conducted by WinField United in 2017.
  • Corn suffered from more nutrient deficiencies in 2017. Compared to 2016, corn plants saw increased deficiencies in key macro- and micronutrients, including nitrogen, potassium, sulfur, zinc, manganese and boron. The most common deficiency was zinc; nearly 82 percent of sampled plants were short on the nutrient that aids in chlorophyll synthesis and other metabolic functions.
  • Soybeans had a sharp increase in copper deficiency. More than 65 percent of soybeans sampled lacked sufficient copper levels to meet plant health needs. This is up 24 percentage points compared to 2016. Copper is a key nutrient for protein synthesis, cell wall formation and many enzyme systems. A majority of soybean samples were also low in potassium and manganese.
  • Wheat lacked micronutrients. Copper deficiency was widespread across wheat crops last year, with nearly 85 percent of sampled plants lacking adequate concentrations of the nutrient. Limited availability of copper in wheat can lead to aborted heads and yield loss. Two other micronutrients, zinc and magnesium, were more deficient this year compared to last year.
  • Cotton showed boron deficiency. Cotton samples were more deficient in boron this year compared to last year, with more than 65 percent of sampled cotton lacking adequate levels of the nutrient. Boron deficiency can lead to flower abortion and boll shedding, limiting cotton yield. Nearly all of the cotton tested was low in potassium, consistent with last year’s test results.
  • Alfalfa was short on calcium. Nearly 90 percent of the more than 300 alfalfa samples analyzed had low levels of calcium in 2017. Calcium aids in nitrogen uptake, nutrient absorption and it contributes to enzyme activity in plants. The majority of alfalfa samples were also short on magnesium and potassium.
  • Corn silage had deficits in manganese, nitrogen and zinc. Deficiencies were found in a greater percentage of samples for all three nutrients in corn silage this year compared to last year. Potassium, boron and sulfur deficiencies were also common in 2017. Corn silage removes more nutrients from soil than grain corn, so crops often require additional fertilization to meet yield goals.
  • Potatoes needed more zinc. Zinc and copper were lacking most in potato crops last year. More than 80 percent of potatoes sampled were deficient in one or both nutrients. Zinc aids in nitrogen metabolism and affects starch content in potatoes. Sample results also revealed a common shortage of phosphorus and manganese in potatoes.
What Does the Data Tell Us?
Plant tissue sampling throughout the growing season can provide real-time insights into a crop’s nutrient status to allow for in-season adjustments to prevent yield loss. Armed with this data, you may be able to remediate nutrition problems before the crop shows signs of stress.
 
While nationwide trends in crop health were analyzed and reported, individual field testing is the best way to evaluate nutrient deficiencies. Plant health is dynamic, and nutrient availability is based on localized conditions and management practices.

Wheat Yield Winners Share Secrets of Success

Mark Torno
CROPLAN® Diverse Field Crops Marketing Manager
Two farmers recently attained top-five finishes in the National Wheat Yield Contest dryland category with CROPLAN® spring wheat varieties. Here is a snapshot of how the farmers — both first-time entrants in the competition — achieved these wins.
 
National Winner, Second Place
Jon Iverson
Langdon, North Dakota
Yield: 97.6 bu/A
County average: 54 bu/A
Increase over county average: 80.69%
Variety used: CROPLAN® 3530
In addition to wheat, Jon Iverson grows peas, flax, barley, canola, corn and soybeans on his 3,500-acre operation in northeastern North Dakota. He saw how promising CROPLAN® 3530 looked in North Dakota State University field trials as well as a local trial in Langdon and decided to plant it on 224 acres. For management, he:
  • Put down 100 pounds of nitrogen last fall
  • Applied 70 pounds of monoammonium phosphate (MAP) starter fertilizer
  • Top-dressed 46 pounds of nitrogen at the 3- to 4-leaf stage
  • Applied a herbicide to manage wild oats, pigeon grass and broadleafs to keep the field clean throughout the season
  • Sprayed for scab at heading
“In our area, 2017 was a good wheat year,” says Craig Leas, master agronomy advisor, WinField United, who is Iverson’s agronomic advisor. “It got a little dry toward the end of the season, but we received rain pretty much when we needed it.”
 
Iverson, who has been farming for nearly 30 years, uses minimum tillage on his operation and was pleased with the results from planting 3530. “These are the best wheat yields I’ve ever had on the farm,” he says of his winning crop. “I already have a little more than 300 acres of 3530 booked for next year.”
 
National Winner, Fifth Place
John Yerger
Hardin, Montana
Yield: 58.8 bu/A
County average: 40 bu/A
Increase over county average: 46.95%
Variety used: CROPLAN® 3100 WinPak
Barley, winter wheat, spring wheat, corn, sugar beets and alfalfa make up John Yerger’s 7,000-acre operation in south central Montana, which he operates with his two nephews.
 
CROPLAN® 3100 is a WinPak® variety, which is a blend of two varieties designed to increase field averages by strengthening lower-yielding parts of the field and buffering the effects of weather and other stresses. “This variety handled drought and heat stress well, on varying topographies,” says Curt Droogsma, district sales manager with Winfield United seed who works with Yerger. “Some of John’s fields have low spots with higher water-holding capacity and higher yield potential, and others have hilltops where yields aren’t always as high.”
 
Yerger planted the 3100 WinPak® variety on a no-till field. His management consisted of:
  • 38 units of phosphate applied at planting
  • 100 units of nitrogen later in the season as a top-dress
  • Warden® Cereals II seed treatment fungicide
  • Ascend® plant growth regulator
  • Propiconazole fungicide
“After we planted 3100, we were a little droughty, but then we caught one rain and it just bloomed from there,” says Yerger. “All of our dryland is no-till, which can save a couple of inches of moisture, too.”
 
Yerger’s management is aggressive, says Droogsma, particularly with his use of Ascend® plant growth regulator. “We don’t get a lot of producers who are willing to invest in Ascend® for wheat — especially dryland wheat,” he says. “But we’ve had good success with it: better seedling vigor, better stand establishment and bigger root systems to help improve yield.”
 
You can find out more about CROPLAN® wheat varieties here

High Management Is a Winner for Wheat

Tiffany Braasch
Master Agronomy Advisor
Kent Pfaff of Washburn, North Dakota, took first place this past December in the National Wheat Yield Contest in the Spring Wheat—Dryland category, harvesting 104.29 bushels per acre with CROPLAN® 3530. To me, more important than achieving this yield is that it also optimized his profit. As Kent’s local agronomist, I wanted to share some of the secrets to his success, which include timely input applications, in-season imagery and tissue sampling data.
 
Fertility crucial from preplant to in-season
Kent starts the season with a soil test to gauge fertility. At planting he applies a micronutrient package that contains zinc with his starter fertilizer. Plant roots, whether they are corn or wheat require zinc in higher amounts in early plant growth. He also treats his seed with Warden® Cereals WR, a product that contains both fungicide and insecticide that protects seedlings from disease and insects early in the growing season. In addition to Warden® Cereals WR, he also uses Ascend® plant growth regulator to help enhance the growth and development of wheat early in the season.
 
Kent customizes a variable-rate nitrogen prescription for each field. This helps him hit his high-end yield goals on the highest-fertility part of his field while backing off on his tougher or less productive areas. He starts with the response to nitrogen (RTN) recommendations for his variety when planning the prescription. Kent variable-rate applies his nitrogen in the form of anhydrous ammonia and applies it side dressed at the same time as seed and starter fertilizer. Like many farmers in our area who use no-till or minimum-till systems, Kent uses this “one-pass” system for his small-grain crops.
 
Follow recommended populations 
Kent followed the CROPLAN® response to population (RTP) scores in determining planting rate, in this case 1.5 million seeds per acre. With other wheat varieties, he may have gone up to 1.8 million seeds per acre; but with CROPLAN® 3530, he optimized yield at a lower planting rate. Managing each variety according to Answer Plot® Program recommendations is key.
 
Maximize acre-by-acre management
In addition to using the R7® Tool to variable-rate apply his nitrogen, Kent is using the R7® Field Monitoring Tool and in-season imagery to track day-to-day performance on all fields in his operation. Early season between third and fifth leaf, he applies herbicides for weed control. At the same time, the use of an insecticide and fungicide helps control disease and insects on the wheat. Another application of fungicide at heading helps control late season disease such as scab. He felt there was yield left on the table by not investing in a flag leaf application. CROPLAN® 3530 has a high response to fungicide (RTF) scores, and we will evaluate this season to determine if another application at flag leaf might optimize his return. Kent says that to him, as a farmer the bottom line is that we achieved a high yield but, more important, improved profitability.
  
Winning with Wheat
Kent and the other National Wheat Yield Contest winners will be honored at the Commodity Classic farm trade show, to be held in San Antonio, Texas, in early March. Congratulations to Kent on this exciting and well-deserved honor. If you want to find out more about the National Wheat Yield Contest, click here. To find out more about how you can increase the yield potential of your spring wheat crop, talk with your local agronomist.

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