Osu Agronomist: Tear Up Poor Wheat Stands
Ohio farmers with poor wheat stands should consider destroying the crop and planting corn and soybeans instead, says Ohio State agronomist Jim Beuerlein.
"Some stands are very small and not doing well," he says. "Time is getting on in the growing season, and they are far behind more normal fields. Corn and soybean prices are sky-high and make a better option."
However, Beuerlein says farmers should finish planting all their corn and soybean planting before working on wheat fields. Soybeans can be planted any time in May and produce good yields. After May, soybean yields drop by 1/3 to 3/4 bushels per acre per day.
Farmers should destroy wheat that is not close to jointing (Feekes Scale 6) by Saturday (5/10), except in extreme northern areas which can wait longer, Beuerlein says. Wheat fields with less than 10 plants for each foot of row are candidates for replacement, he says.
"Ten plants per foot of row can produce a 90 percent yield if the weather allows it to reach its potential," Beuerlein says. "Fields that have struggled up to this point CANNOT reach their potential."
To kill the wheat crop, farmers can apply Roundup herbicide, mixed with a residual herbicide to control weeds that could become a problem after a new crop is planted, Beuerlein says.
Ohio's wheat problems stem from last fall when farmers planted two to three weeks late because they were busy with a late soybean harvest, Beuerlein says. Consequently, wheat had a slow start, leaving it susceptible to winter injury.
Some areas also sustained soil heaving that uprooted wheat plants. However, the extent of soil heaving is not as serious as it was during the 1995-96 growing season.
Beuerlein says Ohio farmers statewide stand to lose 10 percent to 15 percent of their wheat acreage this year due to poor development.
Last year about 35 percent of the winter wheat crop was lost due to overwintering problems and severe disease pressures during a rainy spring.