Wheat School: Will precision uniformity deliver on yield?

If better seed singulation, metering, and depth control improve uniformity of wheat emergence, growth, and crop canopy, will that add up to more grain in the bin?

That’s a question that was asked back in September and that Peter “Wheat Pete” Johnson and Joanna Follings have been striving to answer. In this Wheat School episode we get an update in the field, including some key findings so far.

“We’re seeing that in the plots where we don’t have seeder force technology, we’re seeing quite a variation in emergence of  plants,” says Follings. The emergence is variable, some plants have emerged quite a bit later, and have one to two tillers and others have five or six tillers.

In the plot with seeder force technology, the plants are uniform, and all have a good amount of tillers. (Check out the video for detail, story continues below)

The Follings research farm just happens to be on a dairy farm, so the fertility is quite good — the land goes through a diverse crop rotation and manure is applied regularly.

“In a scenario like this, you would think maybe we wouldn’t see huge differences with phosphorus starter,” says Follings. But as Johnson notes, in the no starter phosphorus plot, it looks great, and it came up faster than the plots with a starter phosphorus application, which is not normally the case.

So, what’s happening with that? “The fertilizer has a higher affinity for water than the seed does, so you put the starter fertilizer with the seed, it takes the water first, the seed doesn’t start to get water for germination until the fertilizer dissolves, so every time you do these trials, the strips without fertilizer, they come up first,” says Johnson.

The difference will really show once the wheat gets into reproductive growth stages, especially when the wheat starts to head, says Follings. Days to heading will be different for the plots that didn’t get starter phosphorus and those that did. The root system will also show the difference, says Johnson.

At the end of the day, the results always show it in the yield, so that starter phosphorus is key, Follings adds.

Follings and Johnson will be back in this field in the spring and following the research to yield.

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