The Pacific Northwest (PNW) is a unique agricultural growing region in the United States. Growers produce many different crops, but when you get to the wheat-growing areas in the Palouse region, it is a monocropping system with farmers growing wheat after wheat year after year. As thin as margins are now, growers have to yield their way out of low commodity prices. They cannot save their way out by cutting back and spending less on inputs.
The PNW has unique diseases and a high infestation of insects affecting wheat. Dwarf bunt mainly in strikes fall-planted wheat. Rhizoctonia is a common spring disease that can rear its ugly head in a big way if not controlled properly. Wireworms are especially severe. The wheat monocropping system prevents farmers from breaking the wireworm cycle which results in a very high wireworm density in the spring. Fortunately, there is an entire stable of products to help control those issues. Farmers, dealers, and suppliers all need to have good understanding of each fields’ disease/insect history. They also need to understand which seed treatments provide the best control. Even at sublethal levels, Pythium needs to be controlled to get maximum yield. Seed treatments are essential, but seed treatments are not created equal. They all have different AI loads, and each one works a little differently.
The most critical decisions in wheat production are seed selection, planting depth, and seed treatments. Wheat that emerges in one to three days has the highest yield potential. The four to six-day emerged wheat has a 70-80 percent yield potential while everything after that is considered a weed. Planting depth, fertilizer, seed selection, and seed treatment all work together as a system. If growers really want to push the envelope on wheat production, they have to look at the whole system. Nutritional seed treatments are also important to get the wheat up and out of the ground.
I cannot over-emphasize the importance of seed selection, planting depth, and seed treatment to get strong, consistent, and rapid emergence. It is up to Nufarm as a product manufacturer and our distribution partners to make certain farmers understand this. The only way to yield your way out of low prices is to go for top yields. Begin with the right fertilization program, use the right seed, plant at the right depth, and apply the right seed treatments to promote strong, rapid emergence.