Wheat School: Late nitrogen pays — even in tough-looking winter wheat

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If you grow winter wheat in Ontario, chances are wet weather chased you out of the field this spring before you applied nitrogen.

That’s what happened to RealAgriculture agronomist Peter Johnson. In this episode of the Wheat School, our resident agronomist compares wheat that received early spring nitrogen to another part of the field where none was applied. “There’s a huge difference,” says Johnson noting that the healthy, robust deep green plants that received nitrogen also produced one additional tiller.

It’s now late May and Johnson is telling growers it’s not too late to apply nitrogen. His own research shows that growers can still apply nitrogen at growth stage 32 (second node). There’s still a good economic case for even putting it on tough-looking wheat.

“Even when we put on nitrogen after heading we still increase yield if we were short nitrogen before heading,” says Johnson. “If you decide to keep your wheat, you need the nitrogen — put it on.”

The big question is: how much nitrogen should growers apply if the crop has seen no nitrogen up to growth stage 32? That’s a tough one, says Johnson. He feels wheat management will pay in 2019 and is advising growers to apply a minimum of 90 pounds per acre.

Click here for more Wheat School episodes.

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