In Poland, wheat is the most important and most frequently grown grain for fodder and consumption purposes. Its acreage reaches 2.5 million hectares, which is about 13.5% of all agricultural land in the country, including wastelands, meadows, orchards and groups of arable crops.
The most common pre-crops for this crop are: rapeseed, maize, sugarbeet and wheat. More and more often we also grow it after soybeans, peas or other beans. Winter wheat monoculture is also possible, broken every 4th year with sugarbeet, but it is a demanding technology requiring good positioning and high security investments.
Each cultivation position leaves specific nutrient content and requires the sowing date, which results in the selection of the wheat variety.
It is commonly assumed that the best location for winter wheat is winter oilseed rape and currently soybean - due to the early maturation and abrasive rich in nitrogen and potassium (rapeseed). For example, in the harvest residues of rapeseed we have about 270 kg K (with a yield of 4 t/ha). Of course, these elements are not available immediately, but are trapped in the dry matter of plants, but with the appropriate soil pH (above 6) and nitrogen richness, these elements are quickly released and we can take them into the fertilization balance.
Winter wheat is grown in the best soils. This cereal is recommended to be sown on the soils of very good and good wheat complexes (class I to IIIb), very good rye (class IIIa and IIIb), mountain wheat and mountain cereal and strong grain-fodder. On weaker soils, for example good rye complex (class IVa and IVb), more attention should be paid to the selection of the variety and the soil kept in high culture.
The recommended pH for this plant is between 6.0 - 6.8 (in 1M KCl).
The technology of growing winter wheat involves very good soil cultivation, which consists of:
Of course, today we have many cultivation technologies at our disposal, such as:
Wheat should not be sown into poorly cultivated, lumpy soil due to the ineffectiveness of weed protection, as well as uneven and incomplete emergence.
The date of sowing wheat depends primarily on the forecrop and the weather conditions in a given year. According to the recommendations - depending on the geographical region of the country - the sowing dates fall between 15 IX and 15 XI. Often, wheat is sown even at the beginning of December, if only the conditions allow it, according to the principle: "better late winter than early spring". However, high yields cannot be assumed in this case.
Pre-sowing wheat fertilization should be balanced according to 3 guidelines:
Knowing these data, you can select the manufacturer, composition and doses of the fertilizer that meet the grower's expectations. The calculation is based on the assumption that for each 1t of yield we need:
Nitrogen fertilization in the fall is limited only to the pre-sowing fertilizer, which should not be applied post-emergence, so as not to limit the overwintering capacity of the grain.
When we have chosen the technology of winter wheat cultivation and we know the position, we still have to choose its variety. The selection of the variety of winter wheat depends mainly on the purposes for which we want to sell our crop. The second factor is the adaptation to the site and - in recent years - the earliness of the variety (which allows us to reduce the effects of water shortage) and its winter hardiness.
Fertilizing wheat also includes foliar fertilizers, which are the main source of micronutrients as well as macroelements. It should be remembered that there is antagonism of uptake of micronutrients from the soil at the soil pH close to the alkaline, i.e. optimal conditions for uptake of macronutrients.
The first element of grain processing is to treat it with a fungicide with the addition of a new generation of seed fertilizer. New generation seed fertilizer:
Remember that fertilizing winter wheat begins with the seed treatment. The second step is to apply the fall nutrition in the 3-4 leaf phase or in the early sowing at the beginning of the tillering phase. It is done by feeding a dedicated microelement fertilizer in a package with a fungicide and an insecticide, if necessary. In this way we provide, among others Cu, Fe and Zn in combination with P and K, which gives us better rooting of the plant and its preparation for overwintering. In addition, we store Cu in grain, needed in the early stages of development. This is important because it is not always possible to enter the field in spring, facing temperature limitations or excessive moisture in the soil.
In the fall, weed control is very important. For this we will use a wide range of plant protection products. Weed control in winter wheat in spring is much less effective and usually more expensive. The most undesirable weed is the common windgrass, and preparations against it for use even after the sprouting phase have appeared in recent years.
It can be said that what seems simple - "plow and sow" - is not such an easy task and from autumn winter wheat cultivation should be fertilized, cultivated and protected.
Winter wheat, which is well-nourished, will survive the unfavorable conditions in winter much better and will guarantee a good start with the first signs of spring.
In spring, we protect the plant in three critical phases of nitrogen fertilization:
Additionally, in the first dose, phosphorus can be administered in a dose of up to 15 kg/ha in order to stimulate tillering. A more effective technology of wheat fertilization, on the other hand, involves the spring application of phosphorus and potassium through foliar fertilizers.
Foliar fertilization (foliar fertilization) is related to the development stages of wheat and the diversified demand for nutrients during its growth. The following guidelines apply:
The treatments listed above coincide with those of protection against fungal infections and pest pressure. Attention should also be paid to increasing the effectiveness of fungicides, growth regulators and insecticides in combination with foliar fertilizers that lower the pH of the working liquid.
When fertilizing winter wheat through the leaves, we must remember that the demand for nutrients, vitamins and amino acids is high, but varied in individual stages of development. In this way, we know that the technology of winter wheat in copper fertilization must be provided for in the early development stages, i.e. until the end of the tillering phase - this allows us to stimulate the establishment of grain propagation, in later stages the demand is lower. Copper helps us to make the stem thicker by increasing its stiffness, it is also responsible for the grain filling, but it must already be accumulated in the plant.
Along with copper, we supply manganese, iron, molybdenum, boron and zinc - which, together with molybdenum, help the plant to take up nitrogen, transport it and convert it from nitrate to ammonium. Therefore, it is administered in fertilizer with an increased dose of this element in the flag leaf phase. The flag leaf is the most important element of our plant, commonly known as the crop factory. Taking care of its nourishment and protection is a priority in the cultivation of winter wheat. Without a healthy and nourished flag leaf, we will not achieve yield or grain quality.
Additionally, when starting vegetation and during the grain filling phase, we apply phosphorus fertilization, i.e. we introduce phosphorus through the leaves. In the first period, in addition to stimulating the tillering and development of the root system, it guarantees the plant nourishment during cool spring nights, when the absorption of this component from the soil is limited by the average daily temperature.
Potassium administered in the later phases guarantees the optimal state of plant hydration and protects it against periodic water shortages, supporting the transport of nutrients.
The last treatment of winter wheat nutrition is carried out with a fertilizer with a high phosphorus content and reduced potassium in order to store it in the flag leaf and to ensure a good final filling of the grain. This process will guarantee us a well-formed grain (without residue) and may play a decisive role in the technological quality of the grain.
The cultivation of winter wheat, in addition to nutrition, is also based on adequate protection and stimulation of the plant. Wheat cultivation technology should take into account the "zero" treatment - it is a treatment performed as early as possible - entering the field after the start of spring vegetation and before the end of the tillering phase. Dependent on the evaluation of the plantation after winter, usually in years when winter was mild and warm and the grain did not go into dormancy. We apply protection with preparations as needed.
Wheat, in which we want to obtain a high yield, must be well developed with anti-lodging preparations. Due to bad winters in recent years, these preparations can be used earlier and earlier, without waiting for the T1 treatment. Additionally, we should also use a growth regulator in the form of an active substance: etaphone in the fracture phase of the leaf sheath.
There are many preparations to fight wheat diseases. Do not look for unnecessary savings here. It is definitely better to perform a more expensive treatment with a preparation containing 3 active substances than to do it cheaply, but 2 or more times and not get the desired effect.
In the cultivation of winter wheat, it is important to fight against pests such as horsetail, aphids, and oscinella frit.
Wheat is not a standard crop that can be grown according to established technologies. If we start with the analysis of soil fertility, combined with the balance of pre-sowing fertilization, adjusted to the variety and position, we will obtain the basis for high yields. By observing the development phases and applying the required nutrition and protection measures, preventing deficiencies and the development of diseases and pests, with a little favorable weather, we will certainly achieve results that significantly exceed the statistical data!
We also invite you to read the article on the fertilization of spring wheat.