6 Nutrient Tips To Maximize Wheat Production

A relatively early harvest throughout most of Illinois should allow enough time to get wheat planted and well established before it gets cold, said Fabian Fernandez, University of Illinois Extension specialist in soil fertility and plant nutrition. To ensure adequate nutrient availability and successful establishment, he offers the following suggestions:

1. Don’t apply too much N in the fall. Nitrogen is important for vegetative growth, but the amount taken up by roots and vegetative tissues does not exceed 30 to 40 pounds of nitrogen per acre before it gets too cold. While concern about lodging under high nitrogen rates has decreased considerably, it is best not to apply too much nitrogen in the fall to minimize lodging risks, Fernandez said.

Also, because nitrogen applications will promote excessive vegetative growth, the crop may be prone to disease problems later, he added. If the soil has large potential to supply nitrogen, fall applications prior to planting may not be necessary.

“Corn fields should have some leftover nitrogen in the soil this year as the corn crop probably did not use all the nitrogen during dry conditions in July and August,” Fernandez said. “Normally, a 20 to 30 pound nitrogen per acre application in the fall is all that is needed to establish wheat. This amount can be supplied in the form of di-ammonium phosphate, which should also supply what is needed for phosphorus fertility.”

2. Total N required depends on soil capacity. The total amount of nitrogen required for a wheat crop is dependent on the capacity of the soil to supply nitrogen. Dark soils high in organic matter require less nitrogen than light-colored soils with low organic matter. For soils with organic matter greater than 4 percent, 70 to 90 pounds of nitrogen per acre is typically sufficient; soils with organic matter between 2 and 4 percent often maximize yields with a rate of 100 to 120 pounds of nitrogen per acre; and soils with low or less than 2 percent organic matter will require 150 pounds of nitrogen per acre.

“While the full amount can be applied with anhydrous ammonia and a nitrification inhibitor in the fall, the preferred method is to apply most of the needed nitrogen by topdressing with fertilizers that do not contain free ammonia in the spring right before the crop greens up and starts to take nitrogen,” he said. “Applying nitrogen at this later time minimizes the potential for nitrogen loss, and provides needed nitrogen that might not be available from the soil due to slow mineralization during cool springs.”

3. Organic matter levels in soil impact application timing. In high organic matter soils, spring application timing is not as critical. In low organic matter soils in southern Illinois it is possible to reduce nitrogen rates by 10% by delaying application to late tillering (Feekes growth stage 5 to 6), splitting the application between early green-up and late tillering to early jointing, or using a nitrification inhibitor or slow-release nitrogen source.

4. Additional N considerations for wheat after corn. While most wheat is planted after soybeans, if wheat is planted after corn, one potential concern is the temporary tie-up of nitrogen that can occur as microorganisms break down corn stover. Fortunately, most of this tie-up takes place in the spring once soils warm up, which is often after wheat has taken up most of its nitrogen. For these reasons, additional nitrogen beyond the recommendation is not needed for wheat grown after corn.

5. Use soil test levels to determine P amount. Phosphorus is very important to stimulate early growth, help with tillering, and improve winter survival. The amount of phosphorus to be applied depends on the soil test levels as well as the phosphorus-supplying power of the soil. It is recommended that the soil test level be at 40, 45, and 50 pounds per acre for the high-, medium-, and low-phosphorus-supplying power soils, respectively.

If the soil test is below the desired level, it is recommended to apply sufficient phosphorus to build up the soil as well as supplying what the crop will remove. If test levels are adequate, it is recommended that sufficient phosphorus be applied at planting time to replace 1.5 times the amount to be removed by the crop. This large amount is needed to meet the high phosphorus requirements of wheat.

“In many fields, a typical rate of 150 pounds of DAP (18-46-0) per acre supplies not only phosphorus, but also sufficient nitrogen for the establishment of the crop,” Fernandez said. “Sometimes it might be tempting to reduce or eliminate phosphorus application in soils testing at or just above the critical level. If your finances do not allow for a full application, it is strongly suggested that 80 to 100 pounds of DAP per acre be applied to ensure a good supply of readily available phosphorus to help adequate establishment of the crop.”

6. Wheat less responsive to K than other crops. Potassium is also an important nutrient, but wheat normally does not respond to applications of this nutrient unless soil test levels are extremely low (less than 100 pounds per acre). Since soybean and corn are grown in the rotation with wheat, and are more responsive to potassium than wheat, it is recommended to manage this nutrient to maximize yield of corn and soybean, Fernandez said. This will automatically take care of the potassium needs of wheat.

(Source: University of Illinois Extension)

Leave a Reply

Fertilizer Stories

FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More
Aerial view of the West Fertilizer explosion site
FertilizerFertilizer Companies Blame City For West, TX, Explosion
August 6, 2014
El Dorado Chemical Co. and CF Industries contend the city failed to properly train the first responders and had insufficient protocols in place to battle the April 17, 2013, blaze at West Fertilizer Co. that triggered the explosion. Read More
FertilizerThe Fertilizer Institute: New President, Renewed Energy
February 3, 2014
Chris Jahn relishes the opportunity to lead the organization through the challenging times ahead. Read More
FertilizerA New Cycle For Fertilizer Demand
January 2, 2014
Changes in the corn market could have a major impact on the crop nutrients sector in 2014, say experts. Read More

Trending Articles

Equipment2014 Product Of The Year Voting
September 19, 2014
Many new products were introduced to the ag retail marketplace this year. From this group, CropLife IRON and its consulting partners have selected five finalists for the Product of the Year award. Please cast your vote today to help us determine the winner. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More
CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More
EquipmentNew Holland Acquires Miller-St. Nazianz
September 3, 2014
The assets of Miller acquired as part of the transaction will become part of New Holland Agriculture, a CNH Industrial brand, building on a successful four-year partnership between the two companies. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires East Kansas Chemical
September 2, 2014
Ranked 82nd on the CropLife 100, East Kansas Chemical will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
MAGIE 2014 ShowStopper
EquipmentJohn Deere Again Wins MAGIE ShowStopper Award
August 25, 2014
For the second consecutive year, John Deere was honored at the Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) for its new R4045 sprayer. Read More

Latest News

Syngenta
Crop InputsSyngenta Launches Plant Breeding Academy
October 1, 2014
Syngenta announces the release of its Breeding Academy, a global initiative designed to enable the continued development of scientists at Syngenta and beyond. Read More
FertilizerFertilizer Outlook And Technology Conference Set For No…
September 30, 2014
Conference participants can expect to gain perspective on the outlook for agriculture and major fertilizer materials and inputs from industry experts. Read More
MicronutrientsVerdesian Acquires Micronutrient Supplier
September 30, 2014
Verdesian Life Sciences has acquired QC Corp., a producer and supplier of granular and dry micronutrients and ferrous sulfate products. Read More
Eric SfiligojHearing From Young Ag Voices
September 30, 2014
Potential future leaders in ag retail had the chance to shine at the recent Mid America CropLife Association meeting. Read More
WebinarsUpcoming Webinars
September 30, 2014
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta Appoints New Chief Operating Officer
September 29, 2014
Jon Parr will succeed retiring COO John Atkin at the end of the year. Read More
CropLife 100South Dakota Wheat Growers To Add Grain-Agronomy Facili…
September 26, 2014
Planned to be constructed in Kennebec, the facility will be located along the soon-to-be rehabilitated line of heavy-rail service from Chamberlain to Presho. Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Announces Vice President Appointments
September 25, 2014
Two individuals have been appointed Vice President positions on the GROWMARK executive team. Read More
FertilizerFertilizer Industry Organizations Join Global Alliance …
September 25, 2014
The Fertilizer Institute, the International Plant Nutrition Institute and the International Fertilizer Industry Association are encouraging the industry to promote the proper use of fertilizer products to minimize their environmental impact. Read More
Precision AgARA Organized Precision Forum Hits Capitol Hill
September 24, 2014
The Coalition for the Advancement of Precision Agriculture (CAPA) hosted its inaugural Precision Ag Forum, Sept. 18, in Washington, D.C. Read More
FertilizerFactors To Consider When Placing Fertilizer With Seed
September 24, 2014
The type of crop, fertilizer source, row spacing and soil environment all affect how much fertilizer can be safely applied with seed. Read More
FertilizerSidedressing Manure Into Corn Has Promising Results
September 24, 2014
Applying manure to growing crops can boost yields, reduce nutrient losses and give livestock producers another window of time to apply manure to farm fields. Read More
FertilizerWhen To Sample Manure For Analysis
September 24, 2014
Because the goal is to collect a sample that represents the manure actually being applied, the best time to sample is during loading or field application. Here's why. Read More
Syngenta
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Faces Second Lawsuit Over Agrisure Viptera Cor…
September 23, 2014
A second company has sued Syngenta AG over sales of genetically modified corn seed not approved by China. Read More
StewardshipCover Crops Field Guide For Farmers Expanded
September 23, 2014
Farmers interested in planting cover crops to improve soil health now have an updated and expanded resource in the second edition of the Midwest Cover Crops Field Guide. Read More
HerbicidesArysta LifeScience Launches Contest For Wheat Growers
September 23, 2014
The Flush after Flush Photo Finish contest encourages farmers across the U.S. to participate through Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #FlushAfterFlush. Read More
FertilizerCF Industries Confirms Merger Of Equals Discussions Wit…
September 23, 2014
CF Industries Holdings, Inc. has confirmed that it is in preliminary discussions with Yara International regarding a potential merger of equals transaction. Read More
StewardshipProgram To Examine Ag-Related Practices, Policies To Pr…
September 22, 2014
A panel discussion on October 14 will include a significant discussion on key issues and solutions related to all aspects of harmful algal blooms. Read More