A trio of updates from the Kansas State University Department of Agronomy provides guidance for producers as they begin to harvest this year’s wheat crop and plan for postharvest treatments and crop rotations. Considerations when harvesting short wheat.
Drought conditions have resulted in thinner stands and shorter wheat plants in fields across the state, both of which present challenges for combining the wheat crop. According to an K-State Agronomy eUpdate on May 26, “In short wheat, getting the heads into the combine with less straw will be a challenge. In some cases, the reel may not be able to effectively convey the wheat back from the cutter bar to the auger, nor hold it in place during cutting.”
In the guidance, Lucas Haag, northwest area crops and soil scientist, and Ajay Sharda, K-State Extension biological and agricultural engineer, addressed how producers can address these combining issues. Using draper headers or flex heads can help deal with lower cutting heights and potential ground strikes. Operators can also make adjustments to conventional headers to address issues with thin wheat stands. No matter the header, operators can also adjust machinery operations — following the manufacturer’s recommendations — including concave and rotor cage clearance, cylinder and rotor speed, and fan speed.
Learn more about the specific details of these recommendations at New considerations when harvesting short wheat.
Postharvest weed control
Thin, short wheat can also cause issues after the combines have finished their passes. Less cover from wheat stubble and residue means producers should have a solid plan for addressing postharvest weed emergence.
A K-State Agronomy eUpdate from June 2 discusses the recommended options for weed control in wheat stubble in two pathways — controlling emerged weeds and preventing later flushes. The update covers the effectiveness of different herbicide products, including application rates and crop rotation considerations, based on the 2022 Chemical Weed Control for Field Crops, Pastures, and Noncropland guide, Chem Weed Guide.
Learn more in the eUpdate at New considerations for weed control following wheat harvest.
For fields that did receive enough soil moisture, K-State also issued guidance for double-cropping considerations after harvest. The K-State Agronomy eUpdate from June 2 cautioned wheat producers that the relatively short growing season and likely hot and dry conditions in July and August can cause issues with germination, emergence, seed set or grain fill. Herbicide carryover is also an important consideration when planning for and managing a double-crop rotation.
With those caveats, the eUpdate discusses the most common double-crop options — soybeans, sorghum and sunflowers — as well as summer annual forages and cover crops. Considerations for each option include weed control, variety selection, fertilizer considerations, seeding rates, row spacing and yield expectations.
Learn more at eupdate.agronomy.ksu.edu/tag/double-crop.
Debes is a freelance writer for Kansas Wheat.