Dig up plants in various locations to assess winter wheat damage

Now is the time to assess the condition of a winter wheat crop.

“As a general rule of thumb, delay spring assessment until most other spring seeding is complete,” says Paul Thoroughgood of Ducks Unlimited.

This means assessing the winter wheat crop to allow enough time to reseed if necessary and give the crop time to recover, especially in areas that were flooded early and may have taken longer to resume growth.

Assessing crop condition early is difficult because brown leaf material in early spring may not be a sign of winterkill and green leaves may not mean the crop has survived.

The best way to assess individual plants is to examine their crown area for individual growth development.

Dig up several plants from various locations across the field. Place the crowns on a moist paper towel in a warm lighted room for two hours.

A damaged crown will turn brown while a healthy one will remain white.

Thoroughgood said another option is to take small plants from areas with poor snow cover.

The remainder should be fine if the samples survive.

More tips for winter wheat include:

• applying nitrogen early in the spring will encourage the remaining plants to tiller

• only when the stand has been assessed and deemed unacceptable should a producer terminate the winter wheat crop and reseed;

• avoid reseeding cereal, especially wheat, to prevent disease trans-m ission. Credit any spring-applied nitrogen to the following crop.

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