Thick April Wheat Stands

Evaluating Wheat Stands in April

Palmerston Area – The Winter Wheat crop is picking up steam right out of the gate!  The snow drifts are all gone, and the tile drains and ditches have caught up to any spring surplus flow.  In General, the crop looks really great, and is certainly appears to be poised for progress.  Most of the area experienced temperatures that reached 20C on Apr10 and the associated thunderstorm brought the season’s first ‘warm rain’ to the region.  I always love the view of bright green colours emerging from the dull and brown winter countryside.

Early Planted wheat (planted Sep 15, following dry beans or canola) has obviously progressed the most.  Stand assessments of an exceptional looking Priesley crop near Palmerston showed a consistent average of 6 stems.  6-8” of top growth.  Wheat at this stage would be identified as Zadok’s growth stage Z25.  This is made up of the main stem, three established tillers, and two emerging tillers.  Exciting yield potential!

In the picture below, the wheat crop on left was seeded Sept 28th, The rows on the right were seeded two weeks later.  Same field, same drill.  The earlier plants are clearly more advanced and the new green growth will begin to capture sunlight and will move the plant factory along rapidly.  The early seeded plants show the main stem plus three tillers and well established rooting from the crown.  The later planted area only shows one tiller in addition to the main stem, and no rooting from the crown yet.  The later planting in this scenario will likely cost 15-20% of yield.

Take home message: If you want to grow a serious wheat crop in 2018, you have to plant early, and that decision starts in your choice of leading crop.  If the crop this year is soybeans, picking a conservative maturity of soybean will be crucial to your wheat planting date and future success.

Fertilizer application has begun in pockets, but will accelerate fully as soon as field conditions allow.  “Full stream ahead!!”

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