Friday, April 11, 2014

Oklahoma Wheat Tour - Day 1

So earlier this week I was in Oklahoma on a fertilizer mission.  On Monday I met up with Area Manager Todd near Perry, in North Central OK.  It seems like on each visit to my home state I am reporting on the need for rain.  Well it is the same this year.  Some areas are in better shape than others, but anyplace would sure benefit from a good soaking.  Here is a shot of a field of some of Todd's own wheat.  It looks really good, especially compared to wheat in the area with non-Liquid fertilizer.  This wheat is following corn, which makes for a good rotation.  Plus there is residual N left over from the corn which didn't yield to full potential from last year's drought.  On this field he put on 5 gallons of Pro-Germinator + 1 qt of Micro 500 per acre with the drill.  Then he topdressed with 18 gallons of a 60/40 blend of 28-0-0-5 with eNhance / High NRG-N.  On close inspection, it needs rain, but looks really good. 
 Remember that on-farm trial that I reported on during my visit here last October?  (Well if you don't, it was posted last October 26.)  Well here it is now.  The area to the left of the left of the left stick received 6-24-6 with the drill, the middle area received no fertilizer at planting, and the wheat to the right of the right stick received Pro-Germinator + Micro 500 + UAN with the drill.  (Rates in next pic.)  They were all topdressed with equal rate of 28% UAN.  This field is really dry and the wheat is smaller than in should be with good moisture, plus it was a cold winter and spring.  But my unbiased eye thought the right side looked more uniform with even color.
It was tough to dig these up.  But we saw that the wheat with the Pro-Germinator was taller and darker green.  This was also what we saw last October soon after emergence.  There were bigger roots then with the Pro-Germinator.  The roots don't necessarily look bigger now, but maybe they stuck in the ground as that particular spot seemed drier than the others.  It's only a one spot shovel sample, but that wheat was noticeably taller.  Unfortunately if it doesn't rain soon we will not be able to measure the effects on yield as the wheat won't make it.  So send positive brain waves to the sky.
In another field North and West of Enid there was a field of wheat after wheat.  This is common out here.  Below Todd makes an unfortunate discovery.
This field had a pretty bad infestation of aphids.  Unfortunately, they were the dreaded cherry bird oat aphid.  Now that's a mouthful.  They were very prevalent throughout this wheat on wheat field, and on a variety that yields well, but is seemingly susceptible to aphid infestation.  (They were in the picture, but are too tiny to see.  Look it up for a picture.) Why is this particular aphid a problem?  Well they are a vector of Barley yellow dwarf virus.  This is a very serious yield-robbing disease of which there is no cure or control.  It is characterized by yellow and reddish leaf tips leading to more yellowing of leaves.  You can see it in the wheat below.  That's why crop rotation is a good idea. But this grower, who incidentally did not use Liquid through the drill, uses wheat for pasture and needed the wheat acres.  But this field is in trouble, and is droughty besides.  It shows the importance of scouting fields so that pests can be controlled before causing more problems.
Later we saw another field that had an interesting comparison.  This grower wanted to add some zinc to his topdress of UAN solution, and had a field comparison.  Can you see the divide?  I have looked at many on-farm comparisons over the years, but have rarely seen one with this much visual difference. The dark green wheat on the right had 1 qt/A of Micro 500 in the topdress application.  The wheat on the left had 1 qt/A of straight 7% zinc from another company.  And there is only 1.8% zinc in Micro 500, but also 4 other micros.  Plus it was much cheaper, I mean less expensive. (I don't want to say who the other company is, but the name is in a well known saying just before the word handbasket.) Again, hopefully they get some rain so that the wheat will grow to maturity for treatment yield determination. 
You see all kinds of odd things as you drive through the country.  Like in the field below.  I really don't know what was going on here to cause that.
Wheat pasture is very common in Oklahoma.  For non-ag folks, this is where wheat is planted and used through the winter and early season for wheat pasture for cattle.  It is usually planted early to enable faster development so cattle can be let out to graze.  If you want to have it develop into grain for harvest, you need to pull the cattle off by March 1.  There is a yield penalty for pasture, but it is a good feed source for cattle.  Some keep cattle out all season because the wheat is more important for pasture instead of grain.  Anyway, some cattlemen do not use drills to establish wheat pasture, electing to mix some MAP and urea fertilizers with wheat seed and broadcast spread it with a spinner spreader. Then it is lightly cultivated in.  Now a drill would give a better stand, but for pasture many like the broadcast method for speed and ease.  It usually works well, except in a cold and dry fall and winter. Like the field below did not get any wheat to grow from the broadcast application.  What you see is weeds...and no cattle.  We saw several fields like this.  Too bad.  A drill and Liquid would have given a good pasture as we have seen.
So it was quite a day and I learned a lot.  Thanks to Todd for the tour.  I did feel good that AgroLiquid is still producing better looking crops, in this case, winter wheat.  But this was just the first day.  The next blog outlines Day 2.  Guaranteed to please.