Many wheat growers across the Northwest will say it’s rainfall that determines a good crop with high yields from not so strong years.
But is that true?
Cat Salois director of Research and Technology with The McGregor Company said recent work conducted in the international Maximum Wheat Yield Project looked at the yield gaps that exist in the Northwest and if the wheat industry is capitalizing on the available resources.
“And I think we tend to blame water as our limiting factor, it is kind of our standard goto answer regardless if we know that it is our limiting factor. I feel we are kind of held back on a preconceived notion that in some years is true, and in many years isn’t.”
Salois noted the region has good moisture capture and conversion ratios.
But if precipitation is not the issue, what is?
Salois says growers put a lot of effort in getting the first half of the crop correct, whether that’s selecting the right seed, seed bed preparation, and getting drills set correctly.
But, that should not be the only area of focus for growers.
“Think about how much effort you put into the reproductive phase of that wheat crop, that’s from head emergence on. And usually, that’s where the room just goes silent. There isn’t a lot of intention into that second half, the reproductive management of wheat.”
She added that research from the international Maximum Wheat Yield Project indicates the Northwest has greater yield potential than any other high-yielding wheat region in the United States, and among the highest in the world. That research indicated the main driver for the northwest wheat is actually solar radiation, better known as sunlight.
And to capitalize on that potential, Salois said it will require a fundamental shift in the thought process for why growers need to address flag leaf timing in the wheat crop.
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