While it may be tempting to skimp on your fall wheat fertility, it’s not recommended. It’s ideal to split apply nitrogen, once in the fall and then again in the spring.
A moderate nitrogen application in the fall will do the trick. According to Virginia Cooperative Extension, 15- to-30 pounds of N/acre is enough to get your wheat crop going. Additionally, over applying creates more challenges than benefits. Excessive fall wheat nitrogen applications can lead to too much fall growth, which can increase disease susceptibility and create winterkill issues. Plus, leaching can occur when you’re applying more nitrogen than your crop can use.
By jump starting your wheat with a moderate nitrogen application, a few things occur, which ultimately boost yield and your bottom line.
In the fall, nitrogen helps root development. Roots are generally larger and dig deeper into the soil. If you dig up a wheat plant in the fall, you’ll quickly notice the roots are much larger than the top growth, or what you see above the soil. Strong root development reduces winterkill potential. Plus, root growth sets the stage for better nutrient uptake throughout the growing season as well as moisture uptake from the soil.
Fall wheat nitrogen applications also establish fall tillers. Fall tillers begin the first growth in the spring and often produce heads with more kernels. After planting, it takes around 10 days for individual wheat seeds to emerge from the soil. Once the plant emerges, it takes around a week for the three leaves and the initial tiller to develop. One- to-two weeks after planting, you can take a stand count to see if your wheat populations hit your desired target.
To make the most out of your nitrogen applications, consider adding products to your fertilizer applications that help wheat plants thrive and retain nitrogen in the soil. Monty’s Liquid Carbon reduces soil compaction, and improves overall soil health. By adding Monty’s Liquid Carbon with UAN, Research and trials throughout the United States have shown an increase in UAN efficiency, a buffering of the burn, and an overall increase in yield by as much as 18 bushel.
NutriSphere-N® is another way to make the most out of your fertilizer applications. It keeps more nitrogen available and inhibits nitrogen loss. NutriSphere-N shields nitrogen on a molecular level by inhibiting enzymes and keeping more nitrogen in the immobile ammonium form for a longer period of time. That means less leaching, less volatilization and more usable nitrogen to aid the health and development of the plant.