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Logan Grier, technical marketing manager at BASF, discusses seed treatments and fungicides during Wheat U on Jan. 17, 2019, in Bismarck, N.D. (Jenny Schlecht/Agweek)

Seed treatments, fungicide can help increase wheat yield

BISMARCK, N.D. — The National Wheat Yield Contest overall winner last year grew 203 bushels of wheat per acre. The dryland spring wheat winner was John Weinand of Hazen, N.D., with 104 bushels per acre. The world record for wheat yield is 250 bushels per acre, Logan Grier, technical marketing manager at BASF, told attendees of Wheat U.

What does that mean for most wheat growers?

"There is opportunity for growth," Grier said.

Wheat U, sponsored by Agweek, High Plains Journal and BASF, brought specialized wheat education to Bismarck on Jan. 17. Grier's talk, entitled, "Optimizing productivity in cereals using seed treatments and fungicides," focused on BASF products that she said could boost yields by dealing with problems before they start affecting plant health.

When a bag of seed is opened, the only limiting factor of what it can produce is it's genetics, Grief explained. But once it's planted, things like weather, moisture and disease become important factors.

"There are so many things we have to think about, and our yield is only going to be as good as our lowest limiting factor," she said.

The choices begin early, she said. Seed-borne diseases can negatively impact yield, but she showed photos of fields treated with Stamina F4 Cereals, a fungicide seed treatment with more consistent stands early on due to "very good germination and very healthy looking plants." A healthy, uniform stand helps plants compete with weeds and makes it easier to apply future treatments at the best times, she said.

"You only have one chance to establish that wheat plant, to establish that wheat field," Grier said. "Up to 60 percent of your yield is determined in that very early phase."

Next, Grier said, focusing on preventing flag leaf diseases is important. If the flag leaf is diseased, it reduces photosynthesis and cuts the potential of the plant. Nexicor Xemium, if applied before disease starts, can reduce problems with flag leaf diseases and lead to a bump in yield, Grier said.

"It's important to proactively apply fungicide," she said. "You want to protect every bit of that flag leaf."

The final fungicide Grier discussed was Caramba for late-season foliar diseases, including fusarium head blight.

"North Dakota is the most severely impacted" by fusarium, she said, showing a map of fusarium movement from 2006 to 2014.

The best time to use Caramba is when about 20 percent of a field is flowering, Grier explained.

The timing of using fungicides is important to ensure optimal protection, leading to optimal yield, Grier said.

"You want to maximize that application. It takes time to get out in the field. You want to make sure you're applying those treatments prior to disease development," she said.

Agweek will bring readers more from WheatU in upcoming issues.