Experts have identified steps you can take to get more from your wheat crop.
Recognise diseases that erode yield
Foliar diseases are likely costing more yield than you may think. In 2015, Kansas farmers lost nearly 23 per cent of their crops to wheat diseases, specifically stripe rust (15.4 per cent) and fusarium head blight (3.4 per cent). Both of these can be controlled with mid-season application of fungicides.
Wheat Streak Mosaic Virus (WSMV) wreaked 2.7 per cent of the state’s wheat crops, and it must be controlled by management practices. WSMV is vectored by the wheat curl mite which lives on green grass hosts and can zap a field of emerged wheat in the fall. It is imperative that prior to fall planting, you control volunteer wheat and other grassy weeds in order to stop the “green bridge”. This helps keep wheat curl mites from attacking new wheat.
Pay attention to seed populations
That is one factor in wheat yield determination. Other factors include grains per square foot and individual grain weight. The former is dependent upon the number of grain-bearing tillers. Grain weight, meanwhile, is determined in the last 40 days of the growing season and is trickier to manage. Temperature, moisture availability and plant nutrition all affect grain weight.
Using crop protection products such as fungicides and adequate fertiliser during the growing season can protect maximum yield provided weather is conducive.
If you have already got good quality and nutritious soil (either through fertilising or crop rotation), do not overdo it with tilling. Leaving the soil as it is will encourage nutrient uptake in wheat.
Try nitrogen fertiliser
Using nitrogen rich fertiliser has been shown to improve yield without sacrificing quality, and is a much more efficient choice compared to simple farmyard manure.
Try green manure
On fertile soil, you can try using green manure. Pick forage legumes to grow (preventing weeds from emerging) and then turn into the soil to improve structure and act as manure.
Farmers in Kansas lost 23 per cent of their wheat crops to fungi wheat diseases in 2015. A simple mid-season fungicide spray can drastically reduce this figure and boost yield.
Sources: Precision Agriculture and Successful Farming