Ag Instructor Vic Martin: Preparing for the 2021 Wheat Crop

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Great Bend Tribune
Published August 9, 2020

The six to ten day outlook (August 11 to 15) indicates well above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation.  Looking out eight to fourteen days (August 13 to 19) indicates a continuation of the hot dry pattern.  The drought monitor indicates receding dry and droughty soils conditions for most of Kansas with two-thirds of the state out of dry conditions.  Corn is in excellent shape with this moisture and more moderate temperatures helping kernels to fill.  Milo is heading out and much looks excellent and soybeans are filling pods. 

Hard to believe but it’s already August 9th.  Wheat planting is less than two months away.  Maybe less if planted for pasture.  Now is the time to start preparing for planting the 2021 wheat crop.  Today’s column provides a brief checklist of what should be done to prepare before planting. 

  • Many have already selected the varieties for planting.  Many have binrun seed they produced.  Hopefully, they walked those seed fields for rye, noxious weeds, and off types.  Unless, the seed is being planted for pasture, it is strongly recommended the seed be cleaned and a fungicide/insecticide treatment applied.  Especially if the field is wheat after wheat.  There isn’t space here but that treatment really makes a difference in stand establishment and yield potential which is even more important with low prices.
  • Unless double-cropping after a summer row crop still in the field – control weeds.  If using tillage, the most aggressive tillage should already be done.  Each successive operation should be shallower than the last. And many will want to apply fertilizers prior to that last past to incorporate it.  And consider weeds in fields within two miles or so of your fields if they were in wheat for the 2020 harvest.  It is critical to control volunteer wheat to prevent the wheat curl mite from vectoring Wheat Streak Mosaic Virus.  The recent rains should have helped germinate the volunteer wheat “crop.”  If you are planting into fields with grassy weeds problems (cheat species, feral rye) consider Clearfield wheat varieties.
  • As always, soil test, or at the very least consider how much N. P, and K has been removed through previous crop harvest.  If you have a baseline soil test from a year or two back, it’s quite doable although it won’t help with Nitrogen and Sulfur as they are mobile.  Especially on sandier ground consider testing for chloride levels as they low levels can decrease yields of certain varieties by twenty percent or more.  With the recent heavy rains, consider soil profile tests for Nitrogen and Sulfur.  However, these should wait until closer to planting for best results.  Sulfur, like Chloride, is more likely deficient on sandier soils as they both leach easily but all producers should check.  Sulfur is part of key amino acids necessary for protein in kernels. 

Naturally there is more much more and there isn’t space today to discuss items related to following 2020 corn, milo, or soybeans.

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