Edwards said the key is producers’ willingness to adapt. “Footsteps in the field is a crucial factor,” he said. “That’s the most important change. Growers need to be in the field every week; they have to get out of the truck and if they don’t have time, they should hire someone.”

He said a consultant probably costs about $10 an acre. “That’s about one to two bushels of wheat. A good consultant will increase yield more than that.”

He said producers must base decisions on the crop needs and pay attention to details. “And they have to adopt a willingness to experiment,” he said. “Most no-till farmers have already done that.”

Edwards said producers deal with two distinct divisions in growing a wheat crop—yield building factors and yield protecting factors. Switching to an intensively managed system puts the focus on yield building. Those factors include variety selection, nutrition, rotation, precision and timing.

Yield protection includes weed, insect, disease and grazing control and harvest management.

“Rotation is a key to building yield potential,” Edwards said. “Rotation reduces pest severity and builds management skills in rotation crops that carry over to wheat.”

He said wheat yields typically yield 10 percent (a conservative estimate) the year following canola. “And canola is harder to grow than wheat and it takes more time.” Some of that new management expertise should translate into better management in wheat.

Edwards said selecting a high-yielding, well-adapted variety also builds yield potential. “Look at variety trials and see what varieties are best for specific locations. Get an idea of three to five varieties that might work on a particular farm and then experiment with those.”

He said seed treatments are a good investment. “In the worst-case scenario, they break even.”

Precision and timeliness are critical for yield stability and is “the most important aspect of intensive wheat management,” Edwards said. “It’s also one of the largest limiting factors for Oklahoma wheat farmers. The difference between success and failure is about one week.”

He said planting with precision is the first step. “Calibrate the drill and change every time the variety or conditions change. Timely planting assures adequate tillering.”

He said consistent and accurate planting depth will increase potential for a uniform stand.

Precision spray applications are also important to assure proper coverage with nutrients and crop protection chemicals. “Tramlines are an ‘old school’ way to improve precision,” Edwards said. “GPS technology is better and will limit compaction over years.