Slow Small Grain Development And Cropping Plans

Apr 03, 2014

The cold winter and late spring may impact small grain stands, development, and yield potential this season. Determining plant populations and tillering can help with harvest and management decisions for these crops.

The late spring is causing some concern about cover crop yield potential and whether it’s worth investing in harvesting it late, and lower yielding cover crops like triticale for forage. Many folks apply N now to maximize production so they need to make some decisions now about double cropping. In our fields at the Agronomy Research Farm, our early planted small grains look real good, but the late planted fields are struggling. Some of the wheat has some winter mortality.

I am thinking that some of the later planted small grains planned for forage might be shifted to cover crop status, unless farms really needed the forage. I think the combination of poor conditions for small grain growth late in the fall, a cold March with little spring growth, and good forage inventories from last year may result in a reduction of the small grains chopped for forage this year.

Some late planted wheat fields should probably be assessed for grain production potential as well. In the agronomy guide we recommend that wheat should have at least 7-9 good plants per foot of row to achieve a reasonable yield- below that you should consider replanting to another crop. That recommendation is based on the fact that these plants can tiller and compensate for missing plants. In our fields, the late planted stands have some sick and dead looking plants in them, so tillering should be evaluated as well. A good field has 40 tillers/foot of row. This year the wheat may be challenged to tiller as well, with the later spring. A key will be to get N on these fields early to stimulate tillering. Hopefully as temperatures warm up this week we will see some good recovery on most fields.

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