What is in this article?:
- Growing conditions for most of the Northeast corner of Texas have been ideal.
- Ample fall and winter rain, in addition to a mild winter and farmers who manage for high yields, add to the optimism.
- By late April the corn, wheat and soybeans all looked good.
WITH GOOD POTENTIAL, Eric Williams is a bit hesitant to predict final yield from this wheat field, but he expects a good harvest.
Swart says growers need to be alert for resistant strains of ryegrass. “When they harvest their wheat, they should look for escaped ryegrass and take action.” He says Axiom offers both burndown and pre-emerge activity.
Williams says he likes to “dribble on fertilizer. If I do that, I can’t mix Ally with the fertilizer to control broadleaf weeds, and I don’t want to make two trips. If I can come in with Axiom early, I will get ryegrass and broadleaf weeds then, and that might be a good option.”
“We also need a rotation crop,” Swart adds, “in fields where ryegrass is a problem in wheat.”
“I don’t think I’ll plant wheat behind wheat again,” Williams says. “A wheat and soybean rotation has worked well. We have a five-year history of 15 bushels of soybeans per acre.”
He plants a group 3.9 variety as early as he can get it in, usually around March 15. “If we catch a rain in June, we can do well.”
He says the early start allows him to outrun heat and drought stress.
“I can make a little money with 15-bushel soybeans,” he says. “And I don’t see ryegrass after soybeans. With either corn or soybeans, I plant Roundup Ready varieties and apply glyphosate to control weeds.”
Swart says another option for ryegrass control is to get wheat ground in good shape in the fall and then delay planting. “Wait until the ryegrass comes up and kill it with glyphosate. Then plant into a stale seedbed.”
“This year, I planted wheat behind wheat too soon,” Williams says. “I got impatient.”
Swart says fast-growing wheat varieties also might provide an advantage by out-competing the ryegrass. He also recommends planting several varieties to spread risk of freeze damage. “Plant early varieties late and full-season varieties early,” he says.
Williams says resistant ryegrass represents another change that farmers have to be flexible enough to handle. “About every three or four years we have to adapt our farming practices to adjust to a new problem,” he says.
He’s also thinking about what to do with his corn crop. “I need to decide soon whether to apply AflaGuard (an atoxigenic aspergillus product that out competes aflatoxin),” he says. The product is widely used in the area to reduce aflatoxin levels on corn, but Williams will not grow all his corn for grain.
“We usually take it to grain. We have an elevator so we want the volume. But we’ve been offered a good contract for corn silage. We need 88 bushels of grain per acre to equal 10 tons of silage at $45 per ton, which is what we can get for it in the field. So we will sell part of the crop for silage.”
He planted a good silage hybrid and is in a convenient location to deliver silage.
“We still plan to take 65 percent of the corn crop to grain,” he says.
Production costs have been a challenge for the corn and wheat crops, especially with fertilizer prices. “But we haven’t made any changes in our nutrition program,” Williams says. “We stayed with what works—450 pounds per acre for corn and about 300 pounds of nitrogen topdressed on wheat.”
He used to apply all the 32-0-0 on corn in one application. “We’ve spread it out to two applications with good results, although I don’t like running over the ground.”
Jeremy Gardner, who works for Williams, says planting corn was a bit difficult this spring. “It was wet. We could have three or four good days in a row and then rain would delay us for five or six days.”