Wheat growers need to get in their fields just as soon as possible and start scouting for the various kinds of weeds that begin to get active along with the wheat. This has not been a year for the use of a lot of text-book expertise in wheat, but as the crop begins to come out of the winter doldrums and enter “green-up,” we need to give it every bit of help possible (and practical).
The main weed issues we may encounter are cool season grasses, especially ryegrass, broadleaf weeds like henbit, chickweed, and geranium, and then wild onions and garlic. There may be others like annual bluegrass, but the extreme cold weather has kept this one from being a major competitor this year. Choice of herbicides should be done after careful scouting to be sure which weeds are actually present and then choose the right product(s) to deal with them.
Fertilization will be a critical issue this year since wheat has been through a lot of harsh weather.
It needs a help to get going toward making some respectable yields. I don’t feel there is any point in debating the method for applying nitrogen this year since this crop needs a big kick just as quickly as possible. A good choice will likely be to apply 60 to 70 percent of the nitrogen planned for the crop just as soon as you can get it done.
Part of the nitrogen application should be in the form of ammonium sulfate (AMS). The combination of liquid N and herbicides may be tempting as a way to save a trip, but consider that this will cause even more leaf burn and we don’t need that. It doesn’t seem a good idea to me personally, but if you like it so much for that.
People who know they are short on P and K may want to include a band-aid treatment of these as well, but this should have been done last fall. Stay away from lime now since fresh lime will lead to loss of you nitrogen. If you make an application of urea or n-sol in warm weather with wet fields better include a urease inhibitor.
One hundred pounds of AMS contains 21 pounds of N, so if you combine this with 175 pounds of urea you will get one hundred pounds of actual N. Then come back about two weeks later and apply another one hundred pounds of urea for an additional 45 pounds of N. This will give you a total of 145 pounds of actual N, which is enough for wheat with yield potential at the 75 bushel level. Some people may want to apply all of this at one time and I would not argue with that either even though some efficiency may be sacrificed.
As for fungicides, that is really another subject that will need to be addressed more thoroughly when we get some healthy leaves back on these stunted plants. As soon as fields begin to look like wheat again we will need to start looking for the diseases that will likely arrive sometime prior to the flag leaf stage (Feekes stage 10).
The one thing I feel we do not have to be concerned about this year is vernalization. We are about to see that wheat really is a winter crop. They are driving cars across the Great Lakes this year and the global warming advocates are still claiming we are causing all of this.