Wheat Walks – Bob Fanning


(Music) Welcome everybody to our last wheat walk of this year anyway. We put on two yesterday and one this morning down at Dakota Lakes and glad to see everybody who’s here and glad to see the interest in people coming out to these. It’s sure a lot more productive and makes us feel a lot better if people are interested in what we have to offer, so welcome. We also want to right off hand before I forget want to thank is it excuse me High Plains, Ruth who’s the coop? Northern Plains Co-op is sponsoring the wheat walk here at the Gettysburg site today. Last year we held a few wheat walks, and we were actually instructed with our new SDSU extension system that we were supposed to look at a lot of the time trying to charge for events like this, and we did get a few people, but we were glad that we got the okay to you know see if we could secure some sponsors and certainly there are businesses were willing to step up and do that. So that allowed us to not charge for these and we certainly appreciate that but sure, it makes it more appealing to attend if you don’t have to pay for em. But at any rate. I wanted to just spend a few minutes going over a few issues about stand and some of the problems a dry fall and dry winter that pose for winter wheat producers this year. But excuse me kind of that real dilemma, we had an awful lot of questions about this kind of thing. Look early on if you decide you might want to keep your winter wheat field or abandon it and maybe go to something else and so I just kind of resurrected a spreadsheet that I wrote a number of years ago when something kind of like this has come up. Maybe experience some winter kill or different problems like that. So I think Ada’s got some copies of that if she wants the hand those around if you’re interested feel free and grab one of those. If you’d like the actual spreadsheet let me know what I’d be happy to email it to you and you could take it put some of your own numbers in here that I’ll talk about And you could kind of manipulate that to kind of better fit your situation. But the top part of this spreadsheet or the sheets you’re going to get there is really intended towards trying to ask them or evaluate early growth. And so when you come out here and in the spring of the year and the wheat plants are hopefully coming on a dormancy and they’re green and growing you might want to obviously take a look and see how many plants per foot a row or perfect square foot you have and try to make a decision is to as to whether you feel that’s an adequate stand that you want to keep or like I said maybe abandon that in and go to something else. So on the left-hand column there, I’ve got numbers of plants per foot a row from one to ten and then put in there width of the row, and that’s something in the spreadsheet you can manipulate. I just put seven and a half inches in there because a lot of producers are planning wheat these days with air seeders and that’s a pretty typical roll spacing. So then the spreadsheet calculates plants per square foot and then you have to make a couple of assumptions or decisions. One would be how many tillers per plant are you getting and if you actually go out and count of course you’re going to get a variety of those. So you’d want to probably average that and I just put in there five tillers per plant and if you any of you had the crop insurance adjuster come out to your place and look at some fields, that’s what they assume. So that’s the default according the crop insurance adjusters plan. So then that calculates the course heads per square foot and then you also have to assume or put in a value for kernels per head, which is a big factor. I put 25 in there, just hypothetically. Granted some heads are going to be bigger than that some are going to be smaller than that some of the secondary later tillers, and then also we also assume a million kernels per bushel and that’s certainly going to vary anywhere from 960 thousand or lower maybe to as many as 1.2 million or possibly higher. So we just kind of use a million as kind of a happy average. So if you’ve read any of the material articles or heard any of the information, you might have heard the figure some may be stands as low as 5 or 6 plants per square foot. Might be adequate enough to decide to keep if it’s properly managed. Well, you can look across there and three plants per foot of row and seven half-inch rows give you four point eight plants per square foot. You go up to four it comes up to about 6.4. You can look across and see your with all these assumptions looking at maybe somewhere in the neighborhood of 26-35 bushels an acre. Now that of course can vary, it’s an estimation but if you can live with that maybe you can decide that’s enough, and that’s what you’re going to keep. There’s certainly some thought that applying nitrogen early is going to encourage tillering and I think there’s probably something to that. I don’t know how much but certainly the rains that we got early this year greatly influenced the tillering of the plants. I’ve seen fields that have as many as nine and ten tillers and I certainly not all those tillers are going to produce viable seed heads but you can see where you can make a lot of adjustments to this and in come up with something totally different than your estimate. If you look down at the bottom part of the page there, that’s intended more for once the plant is completed tillering and now it’s sending up seed heads and you can actually count heads and possibly it’s far enough long maybe count kernels per head. So there again, you put heads per foot a row and roll width calculates heads for square feet. You still have to assume or put in a value of kernels per head and then assume again a million kernels per bushel and you can see you can probably more closely estimate what your yield might be. Now to really really simplify this, you can look there i’ve got the formulas by each section of that spreadsheet, where you can go out and calculate it if you want. Well the spreadsheet can do that for you if you put the right numbers in but if you look for example kind of the middle of that bottom section there. Let’s say if we picked it we had 40 heads per square foot. If you look across to the right interestingly enough it comes out with those assumptions at 44 bushels to the acre. What I really saying is yeah, anybody ever heard the old adage and if you go behind the combine to try to estimate harvest loss. If you got 22 or 23 kernels per square foot you’re throwing over about a bushel to the acre. So pretty close to that is what I’ve got in there for kernels per head or 25. So you can to get a really ballpark figure you can go out and plan count heads per square foot and that would just about directly equate to bushels per acre. So it comes out pretty close. If you find that you got more kernels in a head than 25 you might want to bump that up a little bit bushel and a quarter. Maybe as much as bushel and a half but that can get you pretty close. So there’s been a lot of decisions about that. I know this year and certainly crop adjust insurance adjusters get a big influence on that, fortunately offered people a lot of a lot of options if they were able to get their field adjusted really low or zero it out. They could decide on their own whether they want to keep it or whether they want to look at maybe doing something else. The second page of the back side of that sheet is a kind of a visual graphic of goal stages of wheat as it goes through the progression and the really the only thing I wanted to point out there, is right after that tillering section there, at the end of which is about the five leaf stage when you hit that six leaf stage, that’s when the first joint is initiated. Now that becomes a very important part. To answer a question, another question that’s been a really big issue this year, I’ve gotten a lot of questions on did my winter wheat fertilize or is it going to produce a seed head. A lot of questions about that not something the crop insurance adjusters couldn’t guarantee people and so really up until the time in that first node appears, you don’t know for sure whether your winter wheat fertilized. There’s no way that I know of or anybody i’ve ever talked to knows that you can actually tell whether that that plant fertilized or not. So to clarify this a little bit the process of fertilization goes like this. The kernel has it got to at least take on moisture and swell, technically start the germination process. Then it has to go through a period of time that could range from as little as a few days to as much as three weeks and that’s highly dependent on how hardy the winter variety is and then it’s got to go through that period of time where the soil temperature is somewhere in the mid may be upper 40s. I’ve heard the term the figure 48 degrees. Going through that process is what triggers that winter wheat plant to go into the reproductive mode or joint and then produce the seed head. If it doesn’t do that, it’s not going to produce a seat head. Now that could happen in the fall or over the winter, if germination occurs in the fall you can also occur in the spring. It doesn’t have to come up in the fall. It doesn’t even have to sprout in the fall but it’s got to go through that period of time at those temperatures. To use an example last week I was on a Wall. We’ve got some research plots out there and in the alleys and the borders, the technician planted winter wheat on May 1st. In that plot he’s also got spring wheat, that’s jointing. Was jointing last last week. The winter wheat that was planted May 1st was not. So with that I think I can safely say that May 1st is too late the plant spring, or excuse me winter wheat. Don’t do that unless you want a little grazing, and you want a low crop that’s not going to get very tall because it’s not going to do what you want it to do. I remember another case a number of years ago Claire Stymest who is our West River Agronomist at the time, planted a plot with a variety of things in it. Planted winter wheat in the alleys April 29th. 99.9 percent of that winter we did not fertilized and did not produce seed heads So I hope that kind of illustrates out a little bit. From here on out I guess one thing I want to emphasize to is that I think as you all know winter wheat is a great crop to include your rotation. Might not have been such a severe effect up in this country but I know down in the Lyman County, Tripp County big area across southern South Dakota and much bigger than that, of course it was very very dry and the people that planet corn into wheat stubble in general if they didn’t have it pollinating during a really hot time of the year he had a pretty darn good corn crop despite the drought. Boy fields that were planted back on soybean ground, corn ground, alfalfa that was taken out they bought had a pretty good wreck and so winter wheat is a tremendous crop in the rotation and certainly has a lot more value than just the crop you raise. Also wanted to mention after a bit we are gonna have Emmanuel Byaukama our plant pathologist up here, but I just wanted to mention I’ve got a little bit of a display that you might want to check out on Common Bunt. Has anybody ever had problems with Common Bunt in the group here? Boy your, that’s good. If you ever get Common Bunt you don’t want to plant that seed back or if you really want to plan it back you really want to treat it with a fungicide because it tends to increase. The bunted kernels will send out spores in fact the new seeds that are being developed and you’re going to get a lot more of it in the next crop and it has it’s also known as Stinking Smut. The reason is because it tends to smell like really bad fish and the elevators don’t take much training to pick up on that and they also tend to reject it if it’s too high. And so there’s a really interesting thing in my display here about it when a guy planted the same seed in the same field but two different times because part of it was planted to corn and the rest was prevented plant, planted much planted earlier, and he had Common Bunt In where he planted the corn, planted it later. Where he planted it early didn’t have it but certainly seed treatment is the most effective way to go along with good clean seed. (Music)