6 Tips for Winter Wheat Seeding

Canola is coming off and seeding of winter wheat is upon us. While acres of winter wheat have dropped in recent years, there are good agronomic and economic reasons to include winter wheat in your crop rotation.  Get your winter wheat crop off to a great start this fall by considering these seeding tips.

  1. Stubble – Winter wheat needs a good snow cover of 4 inches or more to ensure winter survival. This can be accomplished by direct seeding into tall, dense standing stubble.   Stubble disturbance during harvest and seeding should be minimized to ensure that a good amount of stubble is retained for snow trapping.
  2. Weed control – It is important to control green cereal vegetation prior to seeding winter wheat to eliminate the risk of wheat streak mosaic virus. Winter wheat should not be seeded near immature spring cereals and all cereal volunteers should be controlled at least 2 weeks before seeding winter wheat.
  3. Variety selection – Yield is generally the first factor considered when choosing a winter wheat variety, but farmers should also compare varieties for agronomic factors such as standability, disease resistance, maturity, and winter hardiness. Seed Manitoba is an excellent starting place for evaluating the current and new varieties coming to the marketplace (www.seedmb.ca).
  4. Seeding date – Healthy, vigorous plants must be established before freeze-up to attain maximum cold tolerance. The goal is to have plants with a well-developed crown and about 3 leaves going into the winter. The crown is the area from which the plant regrows in the spring. Research has demonstrated that seeding during the period from late August to early September (approximately August 25 to September 10) consistently produces the best crops in terms of both yield and quality.
  5. Seeding depth – Winter wheat should be seeded less than 1” deep even when seedbeds are dry. Shallow seeding allows the seed to take advantage of fall rains, and as little as 1/3” of rain is enough to successfully establish winter wheat.
  6. Seeding rate – Seed at higher rates to ensure a dense, uniform plant stand to enhance weed competition, winter survival, and yield potential. Typically, farmers should be aiming for a final plant stand of 30 plants per square foot in the fall. Calculate the seeding rate needed to obtain the desired final plant stand with the formula below:

Seeding Rate (lb/ac) = Target plant stand/ft2 X 1000 kernel weight (g) / Expected seedling survival* X 10

*Expected seedling survival is used in its decimal form (90% = 0.9) and includes percent germination and seedling mortality.

 

 

Submitted by: Anne Kirk,  Cereal Crops Specialist, Manitoba Agriculture

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How to Obtain GOOD DATA from Strip Trials…..Use a Calibrated Yield Monitor…

In 2016, some of  John Heard’s corn nitrogen plots yielded over 200 bu/ac with the University of Manitoba plot combine.  He refused to report such astounding yields until the electronic weighing system had been verified with bagged and weighed yields. 

Likewise scrutiny and calibration is required when using yield monitors for strip trial tests.  In 2016 Manitoba Agriculture and Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association compared harvest weights from strip trial yields in on-farm-tests looking at nitrogen and wheat protein.   Several farms had scaled grain carts in addition to their combine yield monitor (Figure 1) and all plots were measured with a weigh wagon.  Figures 2 and 3 shows the trends of grain cart and yield monitor data versus the weigh wagon yield (solid line).

Figure 1.  Comparing yield measuring systems – combine yield monitor, scaled grain cart and weigh wagon.

Farm A – with scaled grain cart used to calibrate yield monitor.  Yields follow trend of weigh wagon weights and are within 2 bu/ac.

Farm B – A seldom calibrated yield monitor with yields not corresponding to weigh wagon weights and up to 6 bu/ac less.
Yields from a perfectly calibrated yield monitor and grain cart would fall on the black line in the graphs above.  Farmers with accurate, scaled grain carts were usually calibrating their yield monitors in each field and producing very similar results as the weigh wagon (such as Farm A).  Those that were calibrated on earlier fields or earlier in the season were unable to measure the subtle yield differences in this study and may lead to erroneous conclusions.
So if yield monitors are being used to measure strip trial yields, I encourage growers to calibrate often with their scaled grain carts or a weigh wagon if available.  The measurements we made were in dry wheat but if crop strips are of varying moisture content, more frequent calibration may be warranted.
The study of the 8 farms comparing weighing systems is available at: http://www.mbwheatandbarley.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/OFT-summary-2017-FINAL.pdf
Submitted by: John Heard, Manitoba Agriculture Crop Nutrition Specialist
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Do you Have Potassium Deficiency?

Several of our maturing crops are now exhibiting deficiency symptoms that are too late to correct, but important to address for next year.
Potassium (K) is often overlooked in much of Manitoba due to our naturally high K levels in clay and clay loam soils.  But deficiencies on lighter textured soils are increasing – particularly with soybeans. 

 

Picture 1: Mild potassium deficiency symptoms on upper leaves in August

Potassium deficiency often shows up during pod and seed fill, since soybeans remove 1.4 lb K2O/ bu of grain, the heaviest rate of removal of any grain crops.  As K is translocated out of leaves to fill seeds, the deficiency shows up as yellowing and later necrosis of the leaf margins.
Sometimes odd strips occur of alternating deficient and normal soybeans occur in fields.  These are often related to a previous canola or cereal swath that has had the K leach out of the swath into the soil beneath, and hence marginally increasing K supply in that strip.
If either of these symptoms are observed, a K deficiency can be readily identified with a traditional soil K test and a recommendation will be made for future K fertilization.

Picture 2: Alternating strips of varying potassium deficiency in maturing soybeans due to previous canola swaths.
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Managing Water Hemlock in Hayland and Pasture

Like many carrot family weeds, spotted water hemlock populations in Manitoba have been spreading, likely due to wet conditions over the last several years. Managing populations in hayland and pasture is recommended since hemlock species are extremely poisonous to humans and livestock.

Identifying Spotted Water Hemlock

Proper identification is important since spotted water hemlock looks similar to water parsnip, another carrot family weed commonly found growing in wet areas across the province.

Managing Hemlock

All parts of the hemlock plant are poisonous. Young leaves and re-growth after treatment may attract livestock, especially if other food sources are limited or less palatable.  Access to water hemlock by livestock should be restricted while populations are being managed.

The following methods can be used to control or suppress spotted water hemlock in hayland and pastures:

  • Hand pulling (wear gloves!). Pulled plants can be left in the sun to dry. Once dry, plants can be disposed of in an area away from people and livestock.
  • Repeated cutting or mowing.
  • Herbicide spot treatment or foliar application. Glyphosate, 2,4-D and picloram have activity on water hemlock. Refer to the label for grazing and haying restrictions.
  • Cultivation.

Feeding Hay and Greenfeed with Water Hemlock to Livestock

Feeding hay with some water hemlock in it to livestock is okay, according to research from the US, as long as the hay (and hemlock) is thoroughly dried.  The curing process allows the toxins in water hemlock to dissipate, reducing the risk of livestock poisoning.  Hay with water hemlock should either be fed last to allow for maximum dissipation of the toxins or occasionally interspersed with hay not contaminated with water hemlock.  If possible, contaminated hay should not be fed continuously to pregnant livestock, as there is evidence that chronic exposure to water hemlock toxins can result in birth defects.

Unlike hay, greenfeed contaminated with water hemlock should not be fed to livestock or used for silage or baleage.  Testing done in Oregon found that ensiling causes certain toxins to accumulate rather than dissipate and remain at levels that are unsafe for livestock consumption.

 

 

Need help with plant identification?

Pictures can be emailed to [email protected] or samples can be submitted to your local Manitoba Agriculture office (www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/crops/crop-diagnostic-services/).

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It’s Probably Not Giant Hogweed

Because of our experience with crops and weeds, it’s no surprise that the general public often turns to agronomists for plant identification and management advice. And it’s usually about this time of year – when Ontario puts out giant hogweed advisories and big white umbels are in bloom across Manitoba – that these calls start to pour in.

Cow Parsnip

Fortunately, it’s probably not giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) since that invasive species has yet to be found in our province.  It’s more likely another member of the carrot family – cow parsnip (Heracleum maximum).  Unlike its giant cousin, cow parsnip is native to Manitoba and non-invasive.  It’s also very attractive to pollinators.

But even though it’s probably not giant hogweed, it’s still best not to touch it. Because, much like its giant cousin, the sap of cow parsnip may cause dermatitis when in contact with exposed skin.  Symptoms include photosensitivity, a rash and/or blisters.  Reactions to cow parsnip sap are generally much less severe than those to giant hogweed sap.

Information on identification of cow parsnip and giant hogweed is available from Manitoba Agriculture.

 

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Post Anthesis Nitrogen for Wheat Protein

When wheat prices and protein premiums/discounts are high, there is renewed grower interest in late N applications to enhance wheat protein. Following is an old recipe we have recently evaluated in on-farm-tests and small plot studies.

  1. Apply 30 lb N/ac, which is 10 US gallons of UAN solution (28-0-0) diluted with 10 gallons water
  2. Apply with flat fan nozzles
  3. Apply 7-10 days following anthesis (so about 7-10 days after your fusarium head blight fungicide)
  4. Apply in morning or evening when temperatures are less than 20o C. Avoid heat of the day.

Under such treatments we have observed leaf burn of 8-15% of the leaf area without detrimental impact on yield. The one instance sprayed at mid day in high temperatures reduced yields by  6 bu/ac with 31% leaf damage . Protein increase ranged from 0-1.5% and averages are reported in Table 1.

Table 1. Effect of post anthesis N (PAN) on wheat class yield and protein (2015-16).

  CNHR (6 sites) CWRS (7 sites) CPS (2 sites)
Yield bu/ac
Base N 80 68 69
Base N & PAN 78 68 65
Protein %
Base N 13.0 14.2 13.8
Base N & PAN 13.6 14.6 14.1

 

In most cases, the farmer’s base rate of N was high at 150-200 lb N/ac (soil N plus fertilizer), so the extra N was not required for high protein.

The full on-farm-test report is available from the Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association at: http://www.mbwheatandbarley.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/OFT-summary-2017-FINAL.pdf

If attempting such a practice, leave a check strip – not so much for yield determination, but to gauge the success in protein increase.

 

 

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Why is my Corn Purple?

Many Manitoba corn fields are showing some degree of leaf purpling this spring. Here’s a quick look at why leaves turn purple and what possible causes may be.

 

Leaf purpling is a sign of stress. The leaves are actively producing photosynthates (sugars) but conditions are not allowing normal sugar metabolism or translocation in the plant.  The purple anthocyanin pigment is associated with this sugar buildup in leaf tissue.  The amount of purpling is genetically controlled, so hybrids with more of the purpling genes will appear worse than others, even though all suffer the same stress.

Common stress conditions triggering this purpling are:

  • Warm sunny days but cool nights (4-10oC) – this allows sugar buildup but not metabolism
  • Restricted root growth and development – soil compaction (Figure 1), herbicide injury (such as Edge carryover- Figure 2), standing water.
  • Impaired phosphorus uptake due to insufficient soil phosphorus, lack of phosphorus starter fertilizer (Figure 3) or following non-mycorrhizal crops like canola.
  • Physical injury – recently wind has crimped leaf tips (Figure 4) causing sugars to buildup without being translocated to other growing parts of the plant

Purpling will often dissipate with warmer days and nights and yield loss is slight if any. But severe purpling is a symptom of crop stress, so the astute crop advisor or farmer will exploit it as a visual signal and will investigate the cause so to manage better next year.

 

 

 

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Quick Tips – Effective Post-Emergent Weed Control in Conventional Soybeans

If you have only grown glyphosate tolerant soybeans in the past, the move to conventional soybeans can offer up new challenges in regards to weed control. Good weed control is critical for maximizing yield.  Here are a few quick tips:

    • Remember!! You can’t apply post-emergent glyphosate – Unlike glyphosate-tolerant soybeans, conventional soybeans are not a clean-up crop for weedy fields. They are a crop that needs to be planted in fields that have already been cleaned up.
    • Get in touch with your weed spectrum – If you have not done so already, determine what weeds are present or likely to be present in your conventional soybean fields. Are the herbicides you intend to use going to control the weed spectrum you have identified? A mismatch between weed spectrum and herbicides used is a frequent cause of weed control problems in conventional soybean fields.
    • Did you take advantage of pre-emergent weed control opportunities? If so, how is that working? – The advent of pre-emergent soil applied residual products has been a benefit to weed control in conventional soybeans. If this is a tool you decide to use, it is important to assess its effectiveness before you do post-emergent applications to ensure that weeds you are assuming have been dealt with have been controlled.
    • Amp up the Aggression!! Early and thorough weed control is key – Important regardless of the type of soybean you are growing. Research has demonstrated the critical weed free period for soybeans is emergence to the third trifoliate, where the removal of weeds provides the greatest protection of yield potential. Be timely with control and selective with products that may provide some residual control for an extended weed free period.
  • Know your crop growth stage, know your weed growth stageKnowing your crop and weed growth stages as you time herbicide applications is very important in conventional soybean production. Most of the herbicides available have tighter application windows than glyphosate

 

  • Overgrown weeds are less susceptible to herbicides – this can lead to growers dishing out more money on higher cost options that might not work due to size of plants. Please take note that some herbicides can cause crop damage if they are used at the wrong growth stage. In this competitive fight for yield, you don’t want to set back your crop.

 

 

  • Assess the effectiveness of herbicide applications and adjust your plan – Fields should be scouted after each herbicide application to assess effectiveness. If weeds have shown up that the previous herbicide would not have controlled, you might have to change products for your next application or add extra herbicide passé. Were the weeds that you expected to be controlled, actually controlled? Don’t assume that you have dealt with target weeds until you see the evidence. These post-spraying inspections are key opportunities to detect the development of herbicide resistant weeds before they get out of hand.
  • Weed control in conventional soybeans is going to cost more – Seed may be cheaper, but the cost of an effective weed control program in conventional soybeans is almost always more expensive than in glyphosate-tolerant production. But remember, poor weed control remains the #1 threat to maximizing yield and profit in conventional soybeans. Weed control is a key point of investment in this crop and there are no shortcuts if the weed control situation demands action.
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Post-Emergent Weed Control in Xtend Soybeans – Slow Down and Be Careful

The future of side by side soybean fields using different herbicides is here with Xtend soybeans commercially available in 2017.  Having more herbicide tools to combat the herbicide resistant weeds is important, but careful use is critical, to prevent crop damage and stay friends with our neighbors. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Non Xtend soybeans (and other crops) are easily damaged by dicamba – dicamba on sensitive crops always causes crop damage with very dramatic looking symptoms. As glyphosate -tolerant soybeans made up the majority of acres in the past and usually only sprayed with glyphosate, drift went unnoticed. The addition of Xtend soybeans to the cropping mix will be a reawakening to anyone who has gotten careless.
  • Should your pre-emergent application have been the one that included dicamba? – preferred timing for dicamba containing herbicides for use on Xtend soybeans is pre-emergent. Research has demonstrated the critical weed-free period in soybeans is emergence to the third trifoliate, early weed removal provides the greatest yield potential. Additionally, dicamba provides residual control for some weed species during that critical period. Another important point is, chances of application mistakes like drift on sensitive crops are greatly reduced during pre-emergent applications.
  • Only use herbicides specifically designed for the Xtend system – do not tank mix dicamba and glyphosate that you might have on hand in an attempt to make “homemade” herbicide for Xtend soybeans. The herbicide manufactured is designed specifically for use in Xtend soybeans, with reduced levels of volatilization, to prevent herbicide drift. Keep in mind the reports on the U.S. experience in 2016.  Homemade concoctions are a very bad idea, plain and simple.
  • The label is your friend…follow it! – the labels contain important information that will help minimize chances of accidental herbicide drift onto susceptible crops. Key points include:
    • Use nozzles delivering extremely coarse to ultra coarse spray droplets (volume median diameter of 450 microns or more) as defined by ASABE standard S572.1 and as shown in the nozzle manufacturer’s catalog.
    • Do not apply:
      • when risk of severe temperature fall in the night;
      • under high humidity, temperatures above 30oC, or fog conditions, to prevent drift to sensitive crops;
      • when wind is blowing toward a nearby sensitive crop;
      • when winds are below 3 km/h or above 15 km/h.

Source: Guide to Field Crop Protection 2017 p. 163

  • All soybeans look alike – know what field you are in – there is no way to visually discern between the different types of soybeans. When in doubt, make sure that the applicator is in the right field. Herbicides specifically designed for the Xtend system applied to Roundup Ready or conventional soybeans will cause significant crop damage. Additionally, knowing the types of soybeans in the adjacent fields is important to indicate increased risk for off target crop damage. Remember, dry beans look like soybeans from far enough away….never make assumptions.
  • Sprayer cleanout requires careful attention – If producers are growing two or more types of soybeans on their farms, careful consideration has to be given to sprayer cleanout as they move between soybean fields. Even a small amount of dicamba will serve as a contaminant in the next spray load being applied, causing significant damage. Especially if you have only grown Roundup Ready soybeans in the past, recognize that the situation has gotten more complicated.
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