Wheat School: Phil Needham on protecting yield potential

It’s early spring and you’ve pegged the yield potential of your wheat crop at 125 bu/ac and now you have to manage it through the season and get it in the bin.

What should you do? For the next six minutes you should watch the latest episode of RealAgriculture’s Wheat School with agronomist Phil Needham, of Needham AG Technologies. In Part Two of our interview with the Kentucky-based consultant at the CerealSmart conference earlier this winter, he shares tips for growers on how to turn yield potential into harvested grain.

Check out Part One of our Needham interview: Creating wheat yield potential

The first priority on Needham’s checklist is protecting the flag leaf, which holds the key to up to 65 percent of yield. He also notes that up to 87 percent of yield is linked to the upper two leaves and the grain head. His goal is to maintain as many clean, green and healthy leaves as possible until the plants starts to die down.

An effective nitrogen strategy is also critical. Needham says there is no one strategy that will deliver yield, but growers do need to maintain a flexible approach, allowing them to apply nitrogen when required by the crop. He believes growers need to keep a close eye on their fields and be willing to apply nitrogen in-season based on moisture availability and plant health to feed yield potential.

Needham also discussed the need to protect wheat from disease. That can take up to three fungicide applications to get the job done, says the agronomist.

Click here for more Wheat School episodes.

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