Wheat School: Timing plant growth regulators for winter wheat

Wheat is worth about $7 a bushel right now — and we have to chase as many bushels as we can.

That’s the message RealAgriculture agronomist Peter Johnson has for growers in our latest episode of the Wheat School. One way to optimize yield in winter wheat is effective use of plant growth regulators (PGRs).

Growth regulators for winter wheat crops are most effective in early-planted fields with lots of growth, fields planted to a variety prone to lodging, or highly fertile fields that are being aggressively managed — high nitrogen rates, for example — to deliver on high yield potential.

To help growers effectively time PGR application, Johnson has been out digging up wheat plants to help illustrate the best application timing. In the video, he demonstrates how growers can slice through the stem to locate the tiny head as it moves just above the crown of the plant. This is stage 30 on the Feekes and Zadoks wheat growth stage scales — it’s also the beginning of the the application window for growth regulators. He notes that the most effective window for PGRs is from stage 30 to 32. They can be applied at later stages, but they become less efficacious as the plant progresses through its growth stages.

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