Managing wheat with crop protection products
Some points to consider as you make decisions about products that protect the wheat crop and farm profitability.
Most growers are reporting very good winter survival of the 2015 wheat crop. Now, in just the next few weeks, most management products will be applied to the Michigan wheat crop. The following are comments that may serve as reminders from Michigan State University Extension.
Some fields require a post-emergence herbicide to help keep weeds in check. Weed control recommendations for field crops can be found in the MSU Weed Control Guide (pages 106 to 113 pertain to wheat). The use of 2,4-D is still an option in Michigan. It is inexpensive and, if used with caution, may be a reasonable choice for several common summer annual broadleaf weeds (see page 105 in the guide for a ranking of effectiveness on selected weeds). Perhaps the most important reminder relative to using 2,4-D is that it must be applied wheat when is fully tillered and before first joint (when the first node is visible). Another precautionary note is that some herbicides may be more likely than others to cause crop injury when temperatures dip below 40 or 50 degrees. Herbicides that may be more injurious under low temperatures include Affinity Broadspec, Harmony Extra, Buctril, and Starane. Precautionary notes can be found on the product label. See “Herbicide options for weed control in winter wheat: Things to consider” for more information.
There are numerous effective fungicides for combatting leaf and head diseases of wheat. Usually, the most effective use is when Caramba or Prosaro is applied a few days after the wheat heads are completely exposed. These products and this timing provide that best practice for minimizing the risk to both leaf diseases and Fusarium head scab. When using this timing, sprayer adjustments for optimizing Fusarium head scab control should be followed. Growers electing to also address early-season diseases have several products from which to choose. A table listing recommended fungicides, “Fungicide Efficacy for Control of Wheat Diseases” is available.
Plant growth regulators
A relatively new product available to growers is Palisade. After three years of testing at MSU, it is clear the product can significantly reduce the risk of plant lodging. The label specifies that Palisade can be applied at the rate of 10.5 to 14 ounces per acre and that it must be applied between Feeke’s growth stage 4 to 7 (full tillering to flag leaf tip). Based on field trials, rates from 10 to 12 ounces should be sufficient if applied by growth stage 6 (first joint). Growers interested in trying the product should select fields that were planted relatively early last fall, and where the crop will receive both fungicide protection and a relatively high rate of fertilizer nitrogen. The use of Palisade might also be considered where there is a serious risk of plant lodging due to the unpredictable availability of nitrogen from manure, high organic matter soils or an error in fertilizer application.
The last reminder – crunch the numbers
The use and selection of crop protection products has become more difficult with weakening commodity prices. That is, growers will need to push a sharp pencil to decide which inputs are necessary (or at least prudent), to protect the profitability of their wheat enterprise. This depends on many different circumstances, many of which are specific to individual farm operations.