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What a splendid end to 2015. Warmer than average weather and bright sunny days. But, with all of the nice weather came some very interesting questions concerning winter wheat.
All these questions had one thing in common: yellowing of the wheat.
To start off I will say that there was absolutely no need to worry. Even though a common reason for a yellowing crop is nitrogen deficiency, in this case that is not a true concern.
Take a stroll out in your fields and look at how large the plants became under the excellent fall growing conditions we had right through December. You don’t have to look very hard and you will start to notice that the number of tillers on each plant is far greater than average. The average being of course 3-5 tillers. This years crop however has many more. Some fields I have been in I found 10-11 tillers per plant. Upon first thought you might think: wow that is really good, and I am going to have a phenomenal yield. Time will tell on the yield, but that many tillers does not mean what you might think. We fertilized the plant for 3-5 tillers and an end to the growing season around mid October which wasn’t the case.
The problem with that many tillers is the plant wasn’t meant to support that many into the winter. As such it stopped feeding some of the tillers and the plant started to turn yellow. This however is not a concern for now or for the spring. The correct number of tillers are still very healthy and will emerge from hibernation the same way it does every year.
The only change I would make for this spring is a split application of nutrients if you don’t already do so. Make your first pass as early as you can to help the plant recover from winter hibernation. If you are unable to make a split application, then you should wait a little longer before applying the years nutrients. Let the plant come out of dormancy a little while before applying.
The monster tillering is not an issue that you need to be overly concerned about. Any other questions you might have can easily be answered by your local agronomist.
Have a great 2016!