Wheat School: Five considerations before spraying a PGR

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Across Western Canada, the cereal crop is very quickly approaching the critical period to decide on whether or not to apply a plant growth regulator, or PGR.

As Jeremy Boychyn, agronomy research extension manager with the Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions, explains in our latest Wheat School episode, there’s a few things we can think about when making the decision on whether PGR’s will be beneficial to your wheat crop.

Number one, says Boychyn, is what is determining yield expectation of the crop.

“If you’re heard into the 60, 70, 80 plus bushel range, that is the area where you’re typically going to see more opportunity for lodging, and a PGR is going to be more beneficial,” he explains.

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The second factor is history of the field itself and whether crops grown on that field typically experience lodging or not.

“If you’re not seeing lodging on that field,” says Boychyn, “maybe it’s not the best place to spend your money.”

The third factor is variety selection and lodging rating. Varieties are known to react differently to different inputs, and PGRs are no different. Variety choice is going to play into how responsive the crop will be to a PGR application. Boychyn says it’s a good idea to leave a test strip if using a PGR on a certain variety for the first time so you can note the response for next year. (Story continues below video)

As well, it’s going to be important to look at what the actual lodging rating of the variety that you chose is. Each variety has a different lodging rating, and you can find it by looking at the seed guide for your particular province.

The fourth factor when considering a PGR application, says Boychyn, is environmental conditions and environmental stress. Ultimately, this means taking a look backwards and seeing what your rainfall has looked like so far this spring, as moisture is a key player. As much as we can will our crops to grow big and strong, they need moisture in order to even worry about lodging in the first place.

Last, but certainly not least, is staging. Typically that PGR timing is right now — right at the beginning of June, when the crop is moving into that four-to-six leaf staging. At growth stage 30-32, it’s time to split those stems, take a look, and know that timing is appropriate.

Related:

Wheat School: Proper timing of PGRs for maximum effectiveness

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