Wheat Crop Off to a Strong Start

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Cevin Johnson

Eastern Washington wheat growers ready to put 2021 in the rearview mirror are looking forward to a promising winter wheat harvest next summer.

“We had a dry winter followed by a dry summer that at one point was almost 6 inches behind our normal rainfall amounts,” says Cevin Johnson, a sales agronomist with Wilbur-Ellis in Fairfield, Washington. “The other thing that really got us was the intense heat. It shut our plants down. They quit growing and quit producing.”

Johnson’s grower-customers rely on 18 to 20 inches of annual rainfall to help produce winter wheat yields in the low to mid-90s.

Instead, yield averages were slashed by about half.

“Yields were poor this year,” Johnson says. “Our winter wheat average was probably close to 50 bushels per acre on the top side and a lot of it was in the 40s. Spring wheat was about the same story, and canola yields were half of normal.”

Ample fall rainfall is helping reduce the annual deficit, giving growers hope for their next winter wheat crop, which went in the ground shortly before the mid-October rains began.

“Our winter wheat is off to a good start,” Johnson says. “We are seeing good crop growth, and the crop looks promising, overall.”

To help protect that promise, Johnson is preparing for May, when his growers will begin treating for in-season weeds.

The grassy weeds usually get sprayed first with Tarzec® herbicide.

The nice thing about Tarzec is the broad-spectrum activity it provides on grasses and broadleaves

“It is good on Italian ryegrass and windgrass. And then you’ve got the broadleaf control it provides to get after your winter annuals, such as annual mustards and prickly lettuce. It also helps suppress mayweed chamomile.” Johnson says.

That first in-season shot of herbicides will be followed up a few weeks later with a tank mix for broadleaf weed control. Johnson’s preferred three-way tank mix consists of Vendetta herbicide and Quelex® herbicide or Starane® Flex herbicide. This mix, he says, enables growers to rotate to legume crops, such as peas or chickpeas.

“Our popular tank mix is broad-spectrum and helps control all of the weeds we have out here, including mayweed chamomile, prickly lettuce, Canada thistle, lambsquarters, mustards and bed straw,” he says. “We’ll get quick burndown and longer-lasting control to get our wheat growing and canopied.”

For growers planting cereals the following year, Johnson recommends using WideMatch® or WideARmatch® herbicide for that second in-season spray. “We are targeting the same weeds, but WideMatch and WideARmatch control mayweed chamomile especially well,” he adds.

Quelex®, Starane® Flex, Tarzec®, WideMatch® and WideARmatch® are not registered for sale or use in all states. Contact your state pesticide regulatory agency to determine if a product is registered for sale or use in your state. Always read and follow label directions.