Reporting From the Wheat Field in Pasquotank County

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This webpage will be one place that you can find information about the wheat crop in Pasquotank and around the region.

man in field

Austin Brown, Extension Agent of Camden County, evaluating plots at the 2018 Northeast Ag Expo Small Grains Field Day site with Cherry Hill Farms

December 13, 2020

2020 Pasquotank Wheat Survey Plus More

The 2019-2020 wheat crop is underway. Fields that got planted from mid-October to the first of November in most cases look very good unless a big rain occurred immediately after planting. With the cold rainy weather after the first of November, that wheat was slow to come up (3 plus weeks) and was more likely to have thin stands or bald spots.

An increasing number of people are using pre-emergence herbicides, especially to control ryegrass. With the pre-emergence herbicides that provide control of annual ryegrass, it helps to take some pressure off of the postemergence application for annual ryegrass control. If you have not already assessed the situation with ryegrass (and other weeds), I would be doing so now. One of the factors that contributes to unacceptable postemergence control of annual ryegrass is it being too big.  As we approach early January of 2020, we need to be doing evaluation of tiller numbers.  This lets us know whether we need to be applying a split application of nitrogen to promote tiller development. The most productive tillers are the fall tillers, but if we need to push tiller numbers to get profitable yields, the sooner they are present and growing, the better off we are. Especially with wheat having a long growing season, we need to stay on top of it all the way to harvest. Also, if your wheat is starting to show poor color and/or growth, a good investment could be in tissue samples. Each year we have fields that come up with nutrient deficiencies and in one situation last year, it was sulfur on black soils.

Our wheat variety trial (planted on November 14) in Pasquotank is with Logan Parks, on Florida Road. If you have any questions, please contact me at the Pasquotank Extension Center.

January 6, 2020

Now is the time for evaluating tiller counts and assessing the wheat crop to determine if there are any other yield limiting factors present that need to be/can be addressed. If tiller numbers are not where they should be, which should be at least 50 per square foot (and is not so low that its not worth managing as a cash crop), now is a good time to be applying a split application of nitrogen. The mild temperatures we are currently having will allow the wheat to grow new tillers. When making applications of  nitrogen, it is important to make certain that the appropriate length of time between the nitrogen application and application of the herbicide, Osprey, is allowed  so as to avoid injury. This mild weather could also be having pest problems showing up such as weeds like henbit, chickweed, annual ryegrass, and annual bluegrass, foliar diseases such as powdery mildew, as well as insects such as Hessian flies and aphids. If you have questions, please contact me (252-338-3954).

January 31, 2020

Be watching for these posters (shown below) as you visit local agrbusiness dealership/other businesses in the region. It contains all the information about the 2020 Northeast Ag Expo Small Grains Field Day which is to be hosed by the Gates County Extension Center and the cooperator being Lynn Hobbs of Hobbsville. The event will be on Wednesday February 19 starting at 8:30 a.m. with registration and trade show.  This has become a very popular field day fro the growers in the region. Also, you can go the following link to find information on this event as well:

Also, in the coming days, growers in the six counties, Camden Chowan, Currituck, Gates, Pasqujotank and Perq;uimans, will be receiving postcards providing informaiton about the event as well as encouraging them to pre-register by calling the Gates Extension Center at 252-357-1400.

In addition to talking with fellow growers and exhibitors at the trade show as well as enjoying a great meal, you will not want to miss hearing the very useful information provided to help you to manage the current and future wheat crops.

2020 NE Ag Expo Small Grains Field Day poster

This poster with details about the 2020 NE Ag Expo Small Grain Field Day can be seen in local local agrbusinesses and other businesses in NE NC.

February 6, 2020

Wheat Crop:  2020 Pasquotank Wheat Survey Plus More

What acres of wheat that we did plant have had a very difficult time. Dr. Post, Ryan Heiniger and I went out and looked at 6 fields. The tiller counts ranged from 23 per square foot to 98 per square foot with 3 of the fields being below 50 tillers per square foot and 3 fields above 50 tillers per square foot. Those fields under 50 tillers per square foot were planted after the first of November when temperatures were below normal and rainfall was frequent, keeping the soil very wet. Some fields were very clean with regards to weeds with some of those fields having had a pre-emergence herbicide while others had significant numbers of winter annual weeds such as henbit, chickweed, and bluegrass. So, what should we be doing this time of year?

First, we need to be checking tiller numbers and fertilizing appropriately. If your tiller numbers are below 60 tillers per square foot and/or do not have good color, I would recommend applying 30 to 40 pounds of nitrogen per acre now. This will allow opportunity for plants to increase tiller numbers and improve nitrogen in plant tissues to ensure profitable yields. If you have not applied any sulfur to your wheat as pre-plant fertilizer, I would recommend using a nitrogen source that includes sulfur, since we have had a wet growing season so far. Also, if you have wheat that is on organic ground, I would make certain to apply copper.

Second, we need to be checking for and controlling weeds. Do not let the weeds get too big because they are harder to control. Depending on the weeds you have, your best herbicide choice can vary. Among the weeds to be looking for are chickweed, henbit, annual ryegrass, annual bluegrass, wild mustard and cutleaf evening primrose. Refer to the 2020 North Carolina Agricultural Chemicals Manual or contact your county office for herbicide recommendations. You can find the manual at the following web address:

Third, we need to be scouting for other pests such as foliar diseases and insects. We did not see any diseases or insects with the county survey nor have I heard any “rumbling” from other parts of the state nor from other states in the southeast portion of the United States with regards to foliar diseases. We just need to be vigilant on these pests. As we warm up in the spring scout for powdery mildew first. Look down near the base of thick canopies for a powdery white residue on the leaves.

Fourth, keep your eye on the wheat market. If a marketing opportunity arises, take advantage of it. Although we may not know where the wheat market will take us with regard to prices, recent price rallies have given us encouragement. If you know what your yields are normally for wheat as well as what it costs you to raise that wheat, then you are better prepared to make a marketing decision. As I have heard it said, “You cannot go wrong, if you can pencil in a profit.”  Visit the following link to work on pencil-out budgets for your operation:

Wheat has the longest growing season of any of the crops we grow (compared to soybean and corn) and it can be forgotten until we get to the jointing phase of the crop. There are things we can do prior to jointing to help ensure profitable yields.

2020 Wheat Field with low tiller counts and light green color that indicates a need of an applicatiion of nitrogen

2020 Wheat Evaluation conducted by Dr. Angela Post, Ryan Heinger, and Al Wood. One field surveyed that would be and candidate for split application of nitrogen based on low tiller numbers and lack of good color.

2020 Wheat Evaluation

2020 Wheat evaluation by Dr. Angela Post, Ryan Heiniger, and Al Wood. This field was 90 plus tillers per square foot. Although from this picture, it looks green, and application of nitrogen of 30 to 40 pounds per acre was recommended because of lack of good color. Drying conditions will help this field, but keeping the field green will help insure that tillers are not scavenged for nitrogen and negatively impacting yield.

Diagram of wheat plant with regards to counting tillers

Counting tillers is more than just seeing how many stems come from a single seed . A wheat plant will typically have 3 to 4 tillers, but could have more than 10. This seed has produced three tillers (see yellow arrrows) with the largest tiller being the oldest and the other two much younger. Only after a tiller has three functioning leaves (full size and you can see the full length of the leaf; not hid in whorl of plant), can the tiller produce enough food to feed itself, and help support another tiller. The oldest tiller in this picture has six leaves (see red arrows). The most productive tillers are the oldest tillers, but if the plant starts experiencing nitrogen deficiency then it will remove it from the oldest tillers, and it could eventually starve to death.

March 20, 2020

On March 18 & 19, I was out in the field looking at wheat. I saw wheat from ankle tall to knee tall with the majority of the acres between these sizes of wheat. Most of the wheat has good color and appears to have gotten the topdress nitrogen in a timely manner. All the wheat is at jointing or later stages of development.  The earliest planted wheat is almost at or at flag leaf stage with the remainder of the acres in the county being at flag leaf within the next 2 weeks plus, especially with the unseasonably warm temperatures we are experiencing now. The only pest that I observed was a few aphids (just detectable, but not a level that warrants a treatment). Weed control appearas very good overall and I think that part of it can be attributed to an increasing number of growers using a pre-emergence herbicide, especially to control ryegrass.

We are approaching stages of plant development that major tasks such as monitoring for pests and taking action as needed is important. With the unseasonably warm weather we have had this winter, we need to be watching for diseases. The common rust of wheat is showing up in places like Oklahoma. Also, as we  get toward heading, we need to be monitoring for scab (fusarium head blight) by using the “Fusarium Risk Assessment Tool” by Penn State. The link is as follows:

If you have questions, please contact me.

Wheat knee high tall and nearing flag leaf stage in Pasquotank County on March 19, 2020.

Wheat knee high tall and nearing flag leaf stage in Pasquotank County on March 19, 2020.

Wheat ankle high tall in Pasquotank County County on March 19, 2020

Wheat ankle high tall in Pasquotank County County on March 19, 2020