National expert advocates uniformity to improve wheat yields

National wheat expert Phil Needham offered these tips to Michigan growers to achieve better uniformity.

Last week, the new Michigan Wheat Program sponsored a visit by Phil Needham, a nationally-known wheat adviser. The purpose of his trip was to speak with growers at meetings organized by MSU Extension and the Michigan Wheat Program in Mt. Pleasant, Mich., and Dundee, Mich. Needham originated in England. Since moving to Kentucky in 1990 he has been working with the wheat industry across the United States to increase the crop’s productivity.

Needham particularly emphasized the need for exceptional plant uniformity across the entire field to attain top grain yields. To achieve uniformity, he encouraged several practices, including distributing the residue from the previous crop evenly to insure uniform wheat establishment, adding weight to drills where additional down pressure is necessary to cut through residue and achieve uniform seed depth, and distributing fertilizer nitrogen uniformly using streamer nozzles or air boom spreaders to achieve even plant growth and minimize the risk of plant lodging.

The day-long program also covered nitrogen, weed and fungicide management. In addition, board members of the Michigan Wheat Program outlined the steps being taken to establish this new program on behalf of wheat farmers. Over 170 growers participated in the education events.

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