Average state wheat yields for most of the Southeast typically top 40 bushels per acre, with many producers regularly pushing 70 to 80 bushels.

Southwest wheat yields are lower.

“Some of the difference is due to environment,” says Steve Phillips, International Plant Nutrition Institute. “Annual rainfall is greater in the Southeast, but rainfall distribution is more important than the total.”

He says moisture during peak need may not be significantly different in parts of Oklahoma than in the Southeast.

“Management is the big difference (in average yield disparity),” Phillips said during an intensive wheat management presentation at the recent No-till Oklahoma Conference in Norman. “If managed properly wheat is a money maker,” he said. “Focus on yield potential.”

Phillips said stand establishment is a crucial first step. That can be challenging with no-till wheat, especially when planting behind a high volume residue crop. “Trying to plant no-till wheat into 200-bushel corn residue can be tough,” he said.

Setting the planter up properly makes a difference. Planting depth, stalk control, drill calibration and properly set row cleaners are essential.

He said precision ag technology also helps with planting efficiency. GPS guidance system adoption, he said, has steadily increased over the past decade. “We’ve seen a 10-fold increase in dealer offerings for GPS the last 10 years. Now, some 40 percent of Southeast dealers will add automated section control this year for spraying and planting.”

Automated section control, Phillips said, eliminates skips and “significantly limits overlaps.”

Technology accounts for significant savings, he said. GPS saves 10 percent; variable rate application saves 7 percent; and automated section control saves 5 percent. “That’s a total savings of 22 percent,” Phillips said.

Fertility is a key area for intensively managed wheat. “Proper soil pH is a prerequisite for a proper fertility program and I have never encountered a group that cared less about pH than Oklahoma farmers,” said Phillips, an Oklahoma native.

“But as farmers develop a more intensive management system for wheat, attention to pH becomes more critical,” he said.