December and January are critical months in the life of a wheat crop. As a whole, producers are very meticulous when it comes to fertilizing their wheat crop either in a pre-plant or at-planting program. One aspect that often gets overlooked is the need to feed the crop over the winter, i.e. “topdressing” or “spoon feeding” N. This season typically starts, as weather allows, in early December with streamed UAN. Depending on early season soil samples, the N requirement should be in the 120-140 pounds of actual N over the course of the growing season for a 70 bushel yield goal in central Kansas. “Spoon feeding” has become very popular in a high yield environment as a tool to manage the N rates in relationship to the moisture that the crop is receiving. This allows the producer to adjust, up or down, the amount of N “on the fly” by considering factors that may be out of his hands.
Research indicates that split applications (Fall and Spring) of streamed N have led to an increase in overall yields:
· Yields are increase an average of about 3-5 bu./ac. with a streamed split application of N.
· Splitting N increases N use efficiency (compared to an early single application on a dense stand) by reducing the number of additional tillers. The majority of the N will be applied at around Feekes 5-6 to fuel the reproductive stage.
· Splitting N reduces lodging potential, especially in higher yielding or irrigated fields.
· Splitting N eliminates or significantly reduces the injury which results from spring freeze damage.
· Splitting N allows producers to judiciously apply N based on plant health and yield potential. This can be applied later in the season as rains fall.
If you have any questions on how to boost your wheat yields give B. Z. Bee a call!