Wheat tillers are nothing but a well-camouflaged weed, right? Not exactly.
While excessive tillering can cause grief for fungicide timing and harvest management, one tiller can actually pull its own weight and contribute to yield.
How do you best manage for one or two tillers?
Say it with us now: nitrogen!
If you wanted to say seeding rate, we understand: it’s a common misconception.
Peter Johnson, RealAgriculture agronomist, says that if we dig a little into how wheat grows you’ll understand why nitrogen, and not seeding rate, is the better way to manage tillers.
“You can’t stop wheat from tillering. It’s made to do that,” says Wheat Pete. Tillering has been bred out of corn, for example, but the trait is still firmly there for wheat. Wheat decides how many tillers to make based on early moisture and nutrient levels — good early moisture conditions and all the nitrogen applied up front is a recipe for lots and lots of tillers.
In this sound effect-laden Wheat School, Johnson walks us through why upped seeding rates cause more issues than tillers ever would; why aiming for 30 live plants per square foot should inform your seeding rate; and, why split-app nitrogen may not boost overall yield, but should manage your tiller problem.
“Apply your second nitrogen application AFTER it’s done tillering,” Johnson says. Watch below for more: