Intensively managing wheat can improve yield potential for Oklahoma farmers and limit the production variability caused by weather.

“Changing to intensively managed wheat requires changes in production, but, more importantly, changes in the minds of the producers,” says Jeff Edwards, Oklahoma State University Extension wheat specialist.

Edwards, speaking at the recent No-Till Oklahoma Conference in Norman, said intensive wheat management is “a system of management that meets the crop’s needs and increases the reliability and consistency of wheat yields.”

He got interested in the system working in Kentucky, where growers had bought into the process. Edwards said wheat was treated as a second class crop in Kentucky for years until an ag representative went to Europe and saw how they managed wheat and brought that knowledge back to Kentucky.

Edwards said Kentucky’s yield levels had tracked the general U.S. trend for years, “until 1990, when yields started to take off.”

He said farmers had assumed that wheat would not respond to management and that yield was more a result of good or bad weather than anything the producer could do. “But Kentucky growers changed and saw that wheat would respond to management. Yields began to increase and the University of Kentucky began to add the (management system) to their recommendations.”