Not often do you hear of wheat outyielding corn, but that’s the case in our latest episode in the ‘Real’ Wheat Farmers series.
RealAgriculture resident agronomist Peter Johnson can barely contain himself when Arthur, Ontario farmer Shawn Schill of Shawridge Farms tells him that one 200-acre field yielded 154 bu/ac of wheat, beating the average corn yield for the field. Overall, Schill expects to average 125 bu/ac over more than 2,000 acres of wheat in 2017.
How does Shawridge do it? In this video, Schill shares a number of management strategies with Johnson beginning with the importance of head counts. It’s standard practice. Currently the average head count per square foot is around 80 and Schill wants to drive that number to 90 or 100.
Schill has also made a significant switch in management approach, putting less emphasis on early season management and more focus on the back end. “In the spring, we’re focused on plant health. And as long as things are healthy we’re not using fungicides on the front end,” he explains.
Schill is also pulling back nitrogen in the spring and delaying application timing and the amount. In late April, 70 to 80 lb of nitrogen and 15 lb of sulphur are applied.
“Then we’re taking everything we would have spent in the spring and moving it back to head development,” he adds. This year, 60 to 70 percent of nitrogen was applied at boot stage. Total nitrogen ranges from 160 to 190 lb per acre depending on the farm and total sulphur is about 30 lb.
Schill has also adopted a two-pass late fungicide program. That delivers “amazing” plant health, driving higher-than-normal testweight for the area and large, fat kernels.
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