Wheat harvest is essentially wrapped up here and across much of the state. You all have heard and read the reports. The bigger concern now after the spring we’ve had for summer row crops is naturally the weather. Corn, milo, and soybeans needed heat but not this much. One saving grace was the higher humidity. Bad for us but needed to help plants cope with the heat and now wind. Once we above about eighty-five degrees, corn doesn’t gain any advantage and can be hurt, especially during pollination. Corn prefers nighttime temperatures in the low to mid sixties or even the fifties for good pollination. High nighttime temperatures can result in poor pollination and unfortunately a good many acres of corn are pollinating right now. Soybeans bloom over an extended period of time and normally about half the flowers will go on to set pods sp there is some leeway here. The worst threat to soybeans comes with dry conditions as pods begin to fill so things aren’t bad yet. Milo tolerates heat better and can even go into an idle period for a time until conditions improve. We are near heading yet for much of the crop. Timely rains and cooler temperatures would help now and this week’s forecast indicates this is supposed to be on the way. As odd as it seems, it is time to start thinking about what to do for the 2020 wheat crop.
If wheat was harvested in 2019 and again in 2020, consider the following:
• Weed control. Naturally what needs done depends on the field involved. What weeds were present this year? What, if any weeds are present now? Are you dealing with herbicide resistant weeds? Should you consider something along the lines of a Clearfield wheat? If weedy now control weeds now. Preferably chemically or with shallow tillage. And as was learned several years ago, keep on the lookout for volunteer wheat and eliminate it. This is especially key as we get close to the end of August.
• Soil test. With all the moisture many fields, especially sandier soils may have lost sulfur, nitrogen, and to a lesser extent nitrogen. Since there are opportunities for nitrogen and sulfur to mineralize or be lost, wait until the end of August to sample. Remember, these should be twenty-four inch deep samples broken down into two samples. The exception being those wanting to establish wheat for fall pasture where early sampling may be in order. However, since they can be applied effectively and safely after planting, it’s not a big concern. Sampling for other nutrients and pH can be at the normal depth. At the very least look at your yields and estimate what was removed. A well-timed soil test will save money and optimize crop yield potential.
• Think about what diseases may have been in your field, especially those that can survive in wheat stubble or in your bin run seed you are planning to plant. Select varieties resistant or at least tolerant to these diseases. If the can be borne in the seed you kept, clean it and unless you are planning on grazing, have it treated with a fungicide.
If you are planning on planting wheat after a summer row crop, many of the above ideas apply. Consider what nutrients you have removed through fall harvest. Some, many, fields will be a challenge to harvest and go back to wheat so consider no-tilling, or at least minimum tillage.
Dr. Victor L. Martin is the agriculture instructor/coordinator for Barton Community College. He can be reached at 620-792-9207, ext. 207.