Successful wheat production has not been without significant challenges in recent years. But, while there is no way to control all of the variables for guaranteed success, there are some important management steps that can be taken to dramatically improve the odds.
“You’re going to want to look at a fungicide program particularly at heading, which on a Feekes scale is a 10.51. And you are going to want to watch the weather and harvest as soon as you can possibly harvest,” said Jim Howe, with Star of the West Milling Company.
Star of the West does considerable plot work to refine recommendations about how their wheat suppliers can grow a high quality, profitable crop. That research has found that implementing these two practices can help reduce the variability that often exists in a wheat field and lead to vomitoxin from head scab and sprouting.
“Starting when the wheat was planted to when the plant emerged, there were differences in different parts of the field. The plants will even out but you can still get different flowering periods within that field and then, depending on what rainfall we get, it can adversely affect some plants more than others. That can create a lot of variability in vomitoxin levels you may actually see when you get to the elevator,” Howe said. “We can’t predict the weather so if you plant wheat, you’d better plan on spraying fungicides. This is not a silver bullet, but it does reduce vomitoxin. Prosaro works the best. We end up getting around 10 bushels per acre more with spraying on average. We have seen as much as 28 bushels. If you plant it, spray it. You will get your money back at least and the opportunity to get more is huge. Spray Prosaro at 10.51 and use highest labeled rate.”
In terms of sprouting, early harvest is important.
“Wheat only sprouts when it is mature or ripe. Wheat is dry at 13.5% moisture but is ripe around 28% moisture. Rain at the wrong time can cause sprouting,” Howe said. “Harvesting earlier reduces the chances of getting rain at the wrong time.
“The real take home is that you need to deliberately plan on just spraying a fungicide to protect the kernel and harvest as soon as you can possibly harvest. By doing those things you can alleviate a lot of the potential for both sprouting and vomitoxin,” Howe said. “If you go with a full management program with wheat, I think we can easily go for a 140- to 150-bushel range in Ohio and go up from there.”