Sunday, March 16, 2014

St. Patrick's Day and Wheat College (What a Week!)

So Happy St. Patrick's Day.  I'm pretty sure there is no Irish blood in my circulatory system, but any excuse for a party, right?  My town of Grand Ledge celebrated the day with a parade and other festivities this past Saturday.  (I have reported on past parades on past blog posts.)  You wouldn't know it was already mid-March by all of the snow still on the ground.  But at least the sun was shining and the no wind made the low 30's temperatures bearable.  I was again with my Knights of Columbus group and our train full of kids and passing out Tootsie Rolls to the thousands of people...well hundreds I'm sure. There's the Leprechaun out looking for his Lucky Charms or some Pro-Germinator.  (I think AgroLiquid is having a big St. Patrick's Day price mark down on all of the green fertilizers: Pro-Germinator, Micro 500, ferti-Rain, and whatever else is green.  Well maybe not, but they should.) 
Here we are downtown.  There were lots of marcher groups, and even two bagpipe marching bands. I'm sure it was chilly in the kilts that they wore.  Again, no wind, so that persistent question could not be answered.  Anyway, it was fun and I enjoy doing it every year.
Earlier in the week Stephanie and I went to Dallas for a meeting with Galynn and some of the Sales Account Managers (or SAM's).  Well nothing there was blog-worthy.  But wouldn't you know that on Thursday there was one of the Farm Journal crop colleges up in Ardmore, OK.  This was a one-day Wheat College, so we went along with SAM Clint.  I made Clint pull over at the Oklahoma line for pictures.  Here are Stephanie and myself as Clint took the picture, documenting Stephanie's first venture onto Oklahoma soil.  She is now among the gifted.
The college was worthwhile.  Among the speakers was well known wheat agronomist Phil Needham.  Among his tips and observations, mainly for OK wheat, but could apply some of it anywhere:

  • Poor stand uniformity is the biggest hindrance to good wheat yields.  Check your drills for uniform seed distribution.
  • In Oklahoma, there should be around 450 heads per square yard in dryland, and 600 in irrigation.
  • To determine head count number (in 7.5" rows):  count the number of heads per yard of row x 4.8 to get heads per square yard.
  • Base your spring topdress rate on tiller counts.
  • You should include a nitrogen rich strip as an indicator.  This rate would be a higher rate in the 60 to 100 lb N/A range.  So use this strip as a guide.  If wheat under your rate of applied N looks like the N-rich strip, then you applied enough.  If your wheat starts to look pale compared to the N-rich strip, you may consider applying more.  But use stream nozzles if you apply more of a UAN solution.
  • There should be 60% ground cover at the jointing stage for maximum yield.
  • One problem for no-till crops following wheat harvest is poor distribution of chaff and straw out the back of the combine.  In England, where Phil is originally from, they routinely grow 120 bu/A wheat.  One thing they do is have smaller grain heads, like 20 or 25 feet or so, so that the trash spread is not narrower than the width of the grain head.  He did show some newer tools, some still experimental, for better spread.  There was one that could even be adjusted for wind and blow it more evenly even in wind.  Pretty cool.
  • He does not like spinner spreaders for urea.  Use an air machine for that.  And stream or fertilizer nozzles are recommended over broadcast for UAN.  But watch boom height if using the 3-stream fertilizer nozzles.  He showed pictures of streaking when too high or low.
And there was plenty of other useful information from him and the other speakers as well.  Stephanie and Tim have been to corn college in Michigan and thought highly of it.  But it included outdoor field stuff and was in the summer.  But this was a good day of wheat information, and it was cold so I was glad to be inside.