Maximize Wheat Profits, Count Tillers

Cold, wet weather makes tiller count advisable in 2011.

Published on: Feb 7, 2011

Many wheat producers in the Carolina-Virginia region have suffered cold and wet conditions this winter. Johnston County Extension agent Tim Britton says that means counting wheat tillers may be very important when figuring fertilization needs.

Britton notes in late January growers should look for about 50 tillers per square foot. If you are uncertain about tiller count or fertilization recommendations in your area, contact your local Extension agent for advice.

"If wheat is thin, less than 50 tillers, an application of nitrogen (50-70 lbs/A) is needed as soon as possible to enhance tiller production," says Britton in recommendations for his area of North Carolina (Johnston County) during this time period. "Stressed wheat (yellow in appearance) may require an application of 20-30 lbs. of nitrogen. Randy Weisz, small grains extension specialist recommends that temperatures be above 50 degrees before making an application of nitrogen. 

"If considering an herbicide application with nitrogen, Harmony Extra can be mixed with a full rate of nitrogen," Britton adds. "Osprey and Hoelon cannot be tank mixed. Powerflex and Arial can be mixed with 30 lbs. or less of nitrogen/A.  There is a 14-day waiting period between a nitrogen application and an application of Osprey.  To minimize burn with Harmony Extra, Randy (Weisz) suggests that you leave out the adjuvant."

 Britton points out the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has a new tissue sample analysis to that can help growers determine fertilization needs.  For information on this analysis, growers can call Britton at the extension office at (919) 989-5380. They can also go to and look at the entry Optimizing Wheat N Fertilizer Rates, New Tool for NC.