More southwest wheat farmers are investing in technology and new products to increase yield potential and take advantage of current wheat prices.
Investments include new varieties, fungicides, certified seed, increased fertility and plant growth regulators, says Greg Gungoll, Syngenta regional account lead for Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma.
Gungoll discussed the advantages of investing in certified seed, improved varieties and a plant growth regulator at a recent field day near Muleshoe, Texas.
Seed selection, he said, is the first and one of the most important decisions a wheat farmer makes each year. Selecting certified seed instead of saving seed from one crop to the next makes a difference,” he said.
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“Wheat farmers looking to improve yield need to plant the highest quality seed they can get. That’s the first step in producing the highest quality and highest yield.”
He said additional cost is minimal compared to potential yield and quality improvements. “Certified seed are inspected by the Texas Department of Agriculture and the Oklahoma Crop improvement Association” to assure high quality.
“It’s an investment in the crop to produce the highest yield possible,” Gungoll said.
He sees more interest from farmers in certified seed as they invest more in the crop to take advantage of current good prices. “They want to make more wheat per acre and see the value of investing in certified seed.
He also cautioned growers about reselling certified. “Only authorized dealers can sell certified seed,” he said. Saving certified seed and selling to a neighbor is not legal.
Variety selection is also important, Gungoll said. “Syngenta is investing a lot in improved varieties for specific geographical regions, trying to help farmers raise more wheat per acre. Our breeding program is international but with production in Vernon, Texas, and Junction City, Colo. Wheat represents a growth opportunity for Syngenta.”
He said wheat accounts for significant acreage across the world and demand for high quality wheat will increase as the world middle-class population increases and demands higher quality food.
In addition to variety and seed, Gungoll said in-season management of the crop will be crucial as farmers maintain yield potential with improved weed control, disease management and by providing adequate nutrition.
Syngenta’s growth regulator, Palisade EC, is a relatively new product that limits lodging and allows wheat farmers to increase fertility without stalks falling over late in the season.
He said high-production areas such as Northeast Texas and irrigated acreage could benefit from a growth regulator. The product limits stalk height and “allows for increased nutrients without lodging issues. It helps us get a little more wheat per acre,” he said.
Wheat production, he added, demands a total systems approach to push yields. Soil conditions, variety selection, certified seed, weed control, disease management and practices to reduce lodging all play roles in increasing yield and quality.
“A combination of a lot of things,” he said, “will allow growers to increase wheat yields.”