What To Do About Wheat

Making informed decisions about your winter wheat now can result in more bushels at harvest. As the snow melts and you head out to assess your wheat crop, focus on stand health and nitrogen (N) application.

Evaluating the stand

Wait until green-up to assess your wheat. Pull poor looking plants and split the crown with a sharp knife. If you see a firm white to light green color, the stand is healthy. If it is unhealthy, calculate a stand count to verify the number of plants per square foot.

  1. Use a yard stick and count the number of plants along the 3-ft. distance.
  2. Repeat at several randomly selected areas in the field.
  3. Average the number of plants per 3-ft. of row.
  4. Multiply this number by 4
  5. Divide by the row width in inches. This will give you the number of plants per square foot.

Example: Average of 40 plants per 3-ft. in 7-inch rows

40 x 4 /7= 23 plants per square foot

Adequate stand counts are 20-30 plants per square foot or 60 to 90 tillers (including main stems) per square foot.

Nitrogen application

If stands are not quite adequate or tiller counts are low, consult with an agronomist on whether the crop is worth salvaging. It may just need additional N. N can promote tillering to potentially increase head counts as well as supply nutrients needed for a successful growing season.

We recommend a split N application if stand or tiller counts are low. This means getting an early application on now and another application by growth stage 6. If stands are adequate, go ahead and wait to apply at growth stage 5.

Let us know if you have questions about evaluating your wheat crop.

Terry, Rod, Dan and Denny