Field Crops Webinar - Wheat Production - Dennis Pennington
February 28, 2021
In this third session on March 1, 2021, MSU Extension wheat specialist Dennis Pennington focuses on "Improving Wheat Production Income." Even though commodity prices have rebounded recently, it is still important to understand your production cost and make management decisions accordingly. Higher prices should not be used as justification to increase input costs. This should be a time where costs are held so that improvement to cash flow can be made and short-term debt can be reduced. Each input should be evaluated from an economic potential, not just as yield potential. Trying new practices that you normally would not, such as double cropping or interseeding soybeans with wheat, should not be tried as a way to make more money. It only increases risk.
This presentation will also focus on the value of keeping wheat in the crop rotation. A more diverse crop rotation with winter wheat has been found to reduce nitrogen (N) requirements, improve nutrient use efficiency, increase organic matter levels and improve soil structure. Including winter wheat in the crop rotation has been an effective tool for managing weed, disease and insect pests, providing new management opportunities such as cover crops and spreading the workload. Also, adding wheat to the rotation increases corn and soybean yields. More details will be shared on this webinar.
All right, well, good evening, everyone. Like Ricardo said, my name's Dennis Pennington a wheat extension specialist with Michigan State University. I'm going to talk to you a little bit about wheat tonight. And first thing I guess I'm going to do is talk a little bit about maybe why you want to include wheat in the crop rotation. Put a little bit of economics behind that as to make a comparison. And then I'll talk about some different production practices that tend to pay in terms of providing a return on the investment. So like Ricardo said, if you have questions please type them in. And if there's questions about subject matter while I'm going along, I'll lean on Ricardo to, you know, pop in and ask me a question if you have it and we'll try to answer questions as we go. If not, we can wait until we're done at the end. So first thing, is I got this shared via social media with me, and I thought I'd share this with you. So do you see anything that could possibly go wrong in this photo? You've got a car that ended up in the water and somebody trying to haul it out. And you got a bunch of spectators here but what do you notice about the way this truck is leaning? Yeah, so what do you think might happen? Yeah, there you go. So I guess planning didn't work so well here, so, all right, we'll get a bigger truck in here and try to see if we can't fix things here. We still have people standing over here to look and watch and I think I'd be standing back if it was me, but oh, and now look what happened. Yeah, so I guess planning is pretty important so that the outcome is what you want it to be. So it kind of like COVID this last year, this is the way 2020 went for us. But anyway, so enough of the jokes. So why should we put wheat in the crop rotation? If you look at the last couple of decades, corn acres have gone up, soybean acres have gone up, wheat and other rotation crops have decreased. And there's a number of reasons why this is. There's been in many cases, wheat just hasn't been competitive in the crop rotation. And you know, if you look at your income each year, the wheat crop provides less income compared to the corn and soybeans. But as we've taken these crops out of the rotation there's been some other impacts that maybe were a bit unintended. And so one of them is this loss of rotational diversity. Because if you add wheat in the crop rotation, there's a number of benefits that you get compared to not having it in the rotation. Without having, or loss of rotation diversity causes increases in soil erosion, the increase in greenhouse gas emissions. It reduces yield potential. It reduces yield stability, and stability would be over time. It reduces soil organic matter, can reduce aggregate stability, which leads to reduced soil quality. So anything you can do to lengthen our crop rotation and add additional crops as well as cover crops in the rotation is certainly gonna have a positive impact on all of these different things. Because if you're going to grow crops long term, you want the best possible scenario with all these things. You want to make improvements to all of these things rather than degrade them. So, first thing I guess I wanna talk about is there's a study that was put out by Alex Gaudin out of University of Guelph. And he was looking at a long-term crop rotation at the Ridgetown town campus. And they looked at five different crop rotations, corn-corn rotation, corn-soybean, corn-soybean-wheat, soybean-soybean and then a soybean-wheat rotation. And the goal of the researcher of this paper, this reference down at the bottom here, was to really evaluate the impact of wheat in that rotation. What happens to these rotations if do not have it over time? What happens to the corn and soybean yields when you do have wheat in the rotation? So that's kind of the primary focus of this paper. So let's get into some of the results from here. First, let's look at the effect on corn. So on the Y axis here, you've got your corn yield, on the X axis here, you got the four years that were included in this paper as far as the results. So this first bar is our corn yield in the continuous corn rotation. So you can see the corn went from 133 to 150 and then it kind of remained pretty steady over the time, over the three years following the establishment. When you add soybeans in the rotation, what happens to the corn yield in that corn-soybean rotation? Well, it has a pretty significant jump. It's not as big every year. only about five bushel boump in 2011 but it did increase the yield. So what happens when we add wheat into the rotation? You can see you get even a higher yield on your corn actually a pretty significant bump with the exception of 2011, it looks like it was only about a three bushel bump. But then the last thing that they did, they started this in 2011, is they started adding red clover under seeded into the wheat. Because there's quite a bit of benefits when you look at the rotation, the year that they have wheat in here and they underseed red clover, that red clover goes into the fall and the next crop planted is corn. So you're getting some nitrogen benefit to the corn in that rotation. So in terms of just the overall effect of corn, in 2009, by adding wheat in the rotation, it was a 45 bushel yield increase or about 34%. In 2010, it was a 48 bushel increase or about 32%. Not quite as much of a benefit in 2011, only eight bushels or about 5%. And then 32 bushels in 2011 with an overall average across all four years of a 23% increase in corn yield. Well, so do you think that's real? Can you get that on your farm? Well, I got some other studies I'll show you here in just a minute. So this is the impact of corn in this particular study by having wheat in the rotation. Well, let's look at soybeans. So this chart is going to be set up pretty much the same way, you got your soybean yield here, I got the different crop scenarios, crop rotations in the same four years of the study. Here's the soybean-soybean rotation, so basically a monoculture. And there's what your yields are. When you add corn of the rotation, this is what happens to the yields. They increased not significantly, you got a five bushel increase here, only one here, two here and then about four there, but certainly having a rotation has a benefit. And then when you add wheat in the rotation, this is what it looks like. So in 2009, you had an increase of 10 bushels per acre, which is about 20%. When you look at 2010, it was a five bushel increase or about 12%. And then in 2011, it was about a nine bushel increase. And then a 13 bushel increase in 2012 with an overall increase of 16% in the soybean yield. So this is one study, this is what they found, a 23% increase in corn yields, 16% increase in soybean yield when they added wheat in the rotation. So this still does not get at the economics but what about the year when you have wheat where you're not making as much money on that land? Let me get into that in a minute. Oh, one of the things I wanted to mention, there's other benefits of having wheat in the rotation. And I got to give Jeff from MAC credit for this slide, I borrowed this from him. He gave me permission to use this. So having wheat in the rotation improves soil health and fertility. It provides another crop into the production mix. It allows time to perform other field improvements such as tiling or hauling manure. And then it gets away from having all of your crops having to be harvested in the fall. If you had a fall like 2020, where you had pretty decent weather, the crops came off really good. You know, spreading that workload may not be as important, but think about 2019 and 2018 when you just felt couldn't buy a three-day window of dry weather to harvest. Having some of them acres harvested in July would have certainly helped the stress load and the workload in the fall. And then it also generates revenue outside of the normal typical fall sales, just in terms of cash flow. So now we'll start putting some economics to this. And I picked four different studies here that have been published. Because these all compare a corn-soybean rotation with a corn-soybean-wheat rotation. And this was for all cases, this one here by Dave Hooker had a red clover under seeded in the wheat. So it's a little bit different than these others. And that one actually you'll see has actually the highest response for corn. He was reporting a 13% increase in corn. Without the red clover, it was a 10%. But then Joe Lauer out of Wisconsin did a study from 2004 to 2017, was showing a 6% increase in corn, 5% increase in soybeans. Emerson Nafziger, who's now retired out of University of Illinois, did a study from 1998 to 2016. And he saw that when wheat was added to the rotation it was a 6% increase in corn yield and a 6% increase in soybean yield. So if we're going to run some scenarios on here to look at kind of the economics of this thing, let's make a couple of assumptions here. You know, what number do I use for the corn yield and what number do I use for the soybean yield? Well, let's plug in two scenarios where I'll run just a 6% increase in corn yield and then I'll also run an 11% increase in corn yield. And then, you know, I don't know if I should use the nine or not, you know, Canada, that's what they're finding, a lot higher yield response and what we're seeing in the Midwest here. So we'll run a scenario looking at 6% increase in soybean yield. So this is from a study that we didn't fully publish it. I have it available if anybody would like to get a copy of it. But what we did is we looked at some of these different scenarios, and we started with a corn-soybean rotation and looked at, you know, what is the gross revenue from that rotation? What are the cash variable costs? How much field or machinery costs are there? And then we'd take basically the income minus these two expense items in our left with like a net amount of money on a per acre basis. So in this base scenario, which is kind of a corn-soybean rotation, which we would consider like our control or our baseline to make comparisons against, we used a corn yield of 179 and a soybean yield of 57. So these numbers are above our state average yield, but we picked these numbers because we thought these were, you know, somewhat representative of a good farm is doing a good job, getting good production. We know that there's some part time farms out there that maybe aren't achieving these yield levels all the time. But we chose these numbers and that's where we, you know, picked our place to start. When we publish these numbers or wrote this report, we used the current prices back then a couple of years ago we had used 3.60 corn, $9 soybeans, 4.65 wheat. And then we had straw priced at $80 per ton. So now let's look at the first scenario of corn-soybean-wheat with red clover in the rotation. And we use just a 6% increase in corn and a 6% increase in the soybean yield. So in this column, notice I raised the corn yield from 179 to 190, soybean yield from 57 to 60. And then I added wheat in here with a 90 bushel yield. The income or the gross revenue was 562 per acre. This is our cash variable cross machinery. And then the net is $157 per acre compared to $147 per acre. So the difference between these numbers, this isn't your corn income or soybean income. What we did in this column is we took the corn revenues and added it to the second year soybean revenues and divided it by two to get this number. And we did the same for all of these. So in this column over here, we added the corn revenues in year one soybean revenues in year two, wheat revenues in year three, divided by three to get this number. And we did the same thing for, so this is a three-year average across all the crops for each of these items as well. It's just a way to be able to compare on an annual basis, what is the average annual per acre income over time in a corn-soybean rotation versus a corn-soybean-wheat. So the next scenario that we looked at was this corn-soybean-wheat rotation with an 11% increase in corn and a 6% increase in soybean yield. So notice the corn yield in here went from 190 to 198, that's 11% higher than our 179 in the base scenario. Soybean, we held the same as in this middle scenario, and then we had the same at 90. We increased our income here because we increased our corn yield. And the bottom line is is we increased our net at the bottom down to 165 which is a little higher than this. And that basically is because we said we got a higher corn yield. So the last scenario that we ran in this paper was we looked at the 11% corn yield increase, 6% soybean yield increase, and then we sold straw. We sold one ton per straw per acre, off from this, and we sold it at that $80 per ton. So we got an extra $80 of income per acre. So that brought our gross revenue up to 598, got our expenses, which left our net down here at 181 per acre. So the point behind doing all this, and we made some assumptions when we (indistinct) just corn-soybean rotation, you know, you got a nitrogen credit going back to the corn crop from the soybean. Well, we followed the same thing true here. And when we removed wheat straw in this scenario, we charged additional nutrients for the removal of the straw. So we tried to base it on a basic agronomy. And we did, you know, as the yield went up, you know, the nutrient costs went up based on yield goal perspective as well. So we tried to make these an equal comparison across all these. And basically what we found is that by adding wheat into the rotation long-term, you're going to increase the profitability of the farm. Now, whether which scenario you use here of these three, compared to the base is up to you. If you're conservative, you may want to use just this low 6% increase, but it's still, you know, is netting you another $10 an acre. So what I guess I'm trying to get at is that, you know, just because in the year that you have wheat out afield, your income may be lower than that year. If you look at the benefits of it in your crop rotation system, it provides you overall more profitability and increased yield stability. So these are some older prices, we have higher prices right now. So I thought, well, what would happen to this revenue situation here? I went to ADM and grand ledge and pulled these numbers last week on Thursday, I think it was. So I used a December cash corn price of 4.37 is what they had on their website November soybean cash price of 11.78, and then wheat July contract for cash at 5.92. And so basically it increases the revenue of course on these and then re-increases the net all the way across the board. And it really does not change the story here at all. The margins of difference between these are a little bit lower in terms of how much more money you make in each of these scenarios as you go to the right. But the point is, you know, at certainly higher prices, you can make more money per acre compared to lower prices. Now, one of the things that you'll notice here I did not change the variable costs. Now you may be tempted with these higher price to say, well, let me throw some additional nitrogen out there. Let me throw out a fungicide when I don't normally do that. If you're going to do that, you know, these numbers have to be changed as well and that's going to affect the net down here, so. In a year when you have higher prices, you gotta be careful not to just go out and start throwing a bunch of different things out there without running your economics and evaluating, you know, are you getting return for those investments or not? Don't just go out start doing things you wouldn't normally do because there's more risk involved in there because you don't have a track record to know, does it work? I've had calls from people wanting to interseed soybeans into their wheat and try to double crop because, well, if I can get this higher price on soybeans I'm gonna try to get two crops. Well, don't risk, you know, killing your wheat crop or hurting your yield significantly, just 'cause you're going to try to get part of a soybean crop. So you gotta really look at the economics of things, just because prices are high, it doesn't mean you should go out and try a whole bunch of new things. - Dennis, can I- - Certainly. - ask a question? - Yeah. - We had two questions for you that I think they are very timely. So it might be nice to answer those. Now, the first one was, when was the red clover interseeded in the wheat? (cross talk) - Yeah, it was interseeded in the spring as like a frost seeding. So it had been broadcast on with a ATV with a little whirly bird spreader. - Okay, awesome. And Jone, actually, he made a comment, and I just want you to wait on that comment. He said, plus after you buy the straw, you could consider harvesting the clover after you get some growth on it and you can generate a little bit more income. - Yes, that is true. And we did not plug that into this scenario because we weren't sure how common of a practice that would be. So that could be some additional income potential in the scenario where you have red clover in there. But for the purpose of this, we did not include that. - Well, they gotta have- - That's a good point. Thanks very much. - Okay. All right, perfect. All right, well, I'm going to move on and use the rest of the time I've got to talk about some different management practices. So Ricardo, holler if there's other questions out there. So first one, I always talk about starter phosphorus. So if any of you were on the the wheat webinars series that we've got going on, last week we had Phil Needham from Kentucky talking about kind of fall management of wheat and then combined residue management. And one of the things he talked about was putting starter phosphorus in the furrow with a seed and how important that was. He said if you're not doing it, you need to get your drill or your planter outfitted so that you can put seed, or put fertilizer with your seed in the furrow when you plant. So we did a study here in Michigan to look at that exactly. And we found a little bit different results than what he was advocating for. So this picture here shows two different plots. The plot on the right received 96 pounds of MAP, Monoammonium Phosphate, which is 11-52-0 in the furrow which gives us 50 pounds of phosphate. This plot on the left, got no starter. This was a Jupiter variety, this was planted on October 11th of 2016. And you can see the difference between these two plots is pretty significant in terms of the development. You certainly would want to have this on the right. This photo was taken April 18th, so this was after it started to green up in the spring and start to grow as far as the timing. And the wheat in this plot was at Feekes 4.5, which was one and a half growth stages ahead of the wheat in this plot over here. This one was still in the tillering stage on the left. So, you know, visually upfront, we were seeing an impact of having the starter versus not having the starter. But the question is, does that translate into yield and is it profitable? Does it translate into dollars and cents in your pocket? So we did a couple of different things here. We had what we had, we call these our intensive sites, these are the blue sites campus in the Saginaw Valley Research and Extension Center. And then we had these four green sites that were on the farm sites. And we kind of geographically spread them across the state. And the reason we went North with these up here, is because we thought, you know, the farther North of Michigan you go, your growing season is shorter, getting soybeans harvested in time to get wheat planted so that you can get good fall growth and development. Maybe adding the starter phosphorus in the furrow up here in the Northern latitudes would actually be more beneficial than perhaps it would be in the Southern latitudes. So let me go through a little bit of the data that we collected from here. So first this chart here is just from the four green counties here in Michigan. And we only had four treatments here because we did these on-farm trials and so we tried to make it not too complicated for that. So we had the control with no starter then we had in furrow dry, which was our MAP. And then we had in furrow liquid at 12.7 gallons per acre of 10-34-0. Now, we thought that might be a little bit high and there was concern about burn to the crop. So we included 10-34-0 at a half rate of 6.3 gallons per acre. So this only gave us 25 pounds of phosphate in the furrow, versus this one gave us the full 50 just like this one did. And then our control was number one up here. And you can see that all of these ones with a A, were statistically the same. So it didn't matter if it was liquid or dry, it produced the same amount of yield. And it was better, significantly better than the control. And this was four fields that had soil tests levels in the medium, or even pushing the high range. We had one location that had a soil test level of 71 PPM or Grade P1 PPM. So you would not expect a phosphorus response in there. Now, the value per acre, so we use the control as you know, that's our standard, and then how did these others compare? So the one that had the highest amount of return per acre was this in furrow MAP on the $8 an acre. And then this one had the same rate of nitrogen, but 10-34-0 the liquid on a pound per pound basis for phosphorus is more costly, that's the only reason why this one had less return per acre. And then, you know, the other thing that was kind of interesting here is the half rate did equally as well. So at 25 pounds of P in the furrow did just as well as 50. So, you know, we kind of started out here following what the folks on terrier were saying, is put 50 pounds of P in the furrow or a hundred pounds of MAP, but maybe that rate doesn't need to be 50, maybe 25 is enough, perhaps even lower than that. We just didn't do enough treatments in here to do that, to test what the actual real rate should be. So that's the results of the on-farm study. So let's look at the intensive sites, the SVREC and the campus locations. Here we had a total of nine treatments, so we had a few additional applications. Let's start out here with the top yielders here, these all have A's. So these would be statistically the same in terms of yield. We had in furrow placement and we had broadcast incorporated placement. We had the MAP, which is a dry, and we had the 10-34-0 which is a liquid. We had the 12.7 gallon rate and the 6.3 gallon rate. And those were statistically the same, all, very, very close in the yield between these two. But so it really didn't matter whether we broadcast or put it in the furrow as far as what the yield response was. Now, there's a couple of things else in here, we put 28% in the furrow, and there's a reason that we did that. And we also put urea in the furrow with a seed also. And the reason is because MAP and 10-34-0, both have nitrogen with them. Okay, so the question is, is the response and yield we're seeing due to the phosphorus portion or the nitrogen portion? So we put this 28% and the urea, and we calibrated the rate so that we get the same pounds of N as close as we could, as what we were getting with the 10-34-0 in the MAP. And what we found is that, you know, we got B's down here, so the UAN, that really didn't have any, contribute to the yield above the control. And then the urea, what we found here is we actually hurt yield by actually 6.4 bushels, but then compared to the control, the control yielded clear way down here at 46, that had got nothing. So in terms of a comparison here, our control here, we set that at zero, so this in furrow 28% was 2.5 bushels higher. If you go all the way at the top, the MAP here, the dry and the furrow was 14 bushels per acre higher. We use that number then to calculate a benefit per acre. And the two that had the highest were the 46 and the $43 an acre. This one's the liquid at the half rate, 10-34-0 and this is the MAP in the furrow. So I guess the bottom line of all of this is that yes, starter phosphorous makes a difference. It will pay you back to do it. You do not need to put it in the furrow, you can broadcast incorporate it. So just make sure that you do that in the fall when you're planting wheat. Because you saw the difference in the two pictures of what it looked like in the broadcast incorporated versus non looked about the same. So in terms of starter P, make sure you get your phosphorus out there in the fall. - Joseph's asked if, have been there any trials done at comparing in furrow to broadcast fertilizer? You just mentioned that, but do you want to just... - Yes, so in this trial right here, in fact, we compared in furrow with treatment seven and eight here were broadcast incorporated, and you can see... Let me back, oops, there, back up the... Yeah, so we got the red box around here. So these top three are in the furrow and these two are broadcast incorporated. Now, in terms of actual yield, the in furrow did yield a little bit better but it was not statistically different than the broadcast incorporated. So, you know, when you apply the real statistics to it, you can't really say that the in furrow is better 'cause the difference wasn't enough to be statistically significant. So yeah, we did test both of them in this trial. - Well, and now I have a question from Clay. And he asked, if you tried MicroEssentials SZ in the 'row - Yeah, we did not try that in here, but Phil has mentioned that in his talk on Wednesday and yeah, MicroEssentials SZ, or MEZ, or whatever as some people call it, yeah, that works just as well in the furrow. And in fact in some cases that actually does a little bit better but it's also a little bit more costly. So you've got to make sure you're comparing your cost per pound of phosphate when you're evaluating whether you should put that in the furrow - Okay. - or broadcast incorporated. - Yeah, Scott asked if would be a similar response with manure application before planting. - So yeah, that's a good question and I'll try to answer as best I can but I may not be the best person to answer that 'cause I don't have any experience with putting manure out there. So I would say whatever source of phosphate that you put out there, I would think you'd get the benefit as long as it is as available as MAP and 10-34-0. What I don't know is when you put manure out there, how long before that phosphate is available to the plant. And with manure, you certainly, you're going to have to broadcast that and incorporate it, so you can't really get it in the furrow. You know, what we thought we would find is that by putting it in the furrow, particularly when it's cold out, you know, you got to have the roots got to grow into the phosphate because phosphate's not mobile in the soil. And so in cold soils where you have slow root growth, if you can get that phosphate closer to that root as it's developing, as that plant is just starting to grow, you can get more uptake of that P. And so for the manure question, as long as it is available as readily as what these other products are, I would say, yes, you can get equal benefit. - Yeah, and I think that the main problem with manure is like the amounts there, right? In order to get at the same, that you'd be getting fertilizer. How much are we going to have to be handling and compare there, right? So how easy it's going to be and how many gallons you're going to have to apply. So just a few things to keep in mind. - Right, right. You'd want to pull them in our sample and get it analyzed for how much phosphate is in it, and then try to apply it you know, according to your soil test recommendations. - All right, so Danny asked, was the broadcast starter fertilizer incorporated? And I think Greg also asking the same question, how did you incorporate, dry? So I think those probably would be the same question. - Yeah. So these like seven and eight here that are broadcast, what we did is, the MAP we actually broadcast by hand, I just took a little whirly bird like a little fertilizer spreader you would hold in your hand that you'd like using your yard. And I broadcast that fertilizer on the ground and then we incorporated it with a, almost like a little (indistinct) tool. And then the 10-34-0, we actually used, I had the drill that we planted with outfitted with the seed farmers so that we could deliver the liquid in the furrow with a seed. So what I did is I just raised a drill up and drove across the plot. It applied the liquid 10-34-0 and then I went back and incorporated it. And then I actually set the drill down and planted. So that was the way that I did the broadcast incorporated. - [ Ricardo] All right, Dennis, thanks very much. I will let you finish and then come back later with more questions. - Okay, sounds good. All right, so let's move on to the next subject here, and this is wheat management trials. So we established some trials here back a few years ago. We've been doing these over the years. And the goal here is we're trying to see how far we can push the limits and see what kind of response we can get to higher nitrogen rates. What are the benefits of applications of fungicide in terms of disease control? And then if we're going to start pushing yields higher, do we have to start worrying about lodging? So we set up these on-farm trials. These were not small trials, these were on farm trials with all of the applications made with farmer's equipment. So we started out treatment, one was just a base nitrogen rate. It varied a little bit from location to location but for the most part, it was a rate of around 90 pounds of nitrogen per acre. Treatment two was the base nitrogen rate with the addition of a fungicide at flowering for leaf disease as well as a head scam control. Treatment three was the base nitrogen rate plus the fungicide plus a second pass of nitrogen, an additional 30 to 35 pounds of N. And then treatment four was the base nitrogen rate, the fungicide, the extra nitrogen and we added a plant growth regulator to handle any lodging issues that may come about. So what we did with these trials, we had them kind of scattered across the state. And at the bottom here, you can see the different locations. These first two Helmut Rogers City were up North in the Northern country, Kingston and Elton are up in the thumb. Woodbury's kind of West central Michigan and then Adrian's down in the Southeast part of the state. And you can see what the yield responses were to each of these treatments. Remember number one was just our standard base nitrogen rate. Number two, added the fungicide, number three added the fungicide and the nitrogen and then number four, added the fungicide, second nitrogen pass and the plant growth regulator. The yields in Hillmann and Roger city, Roger city had the lowest yield, Hillmann had decent yields. The highest yields were in Kingston. And this was where we actually saw the nicest response in terms of additional application of additional management. But in some of these cases, like 95 to 99, you know, you're not paying for the additional product if that's the only increase in yield that you can get. And certainly in Rogers city, you didn't get any benefit. And it was a little bit variable in Woodbury. You got a response in Elton, but then when you added the Palisade, and actually in almost every case when you added Palisade, it didn't increase yield and in many cases, it decreased the yield. And so, and then at Adrian we got a little bit variable response here. Here, we got a significant response to the fungicide. So, we're kind of wondering, okay, so we got quite variable results, and we've been doing these trials for a few years, you know, what's going on? How come we're seeing such variable results in some years in some locations we're getting good results like this Kingston location, but then in other years, other locations, we're not getting much results? So let's look a little bit more about the plant growth regulator. And I don't want to talk about variety, the impact of variety on these results. So in the slide I just showed, we weren't seeing much for plant growth regulator response, but let's talk a little bit more about Palisade which is registered in Michigan. It's Trinexapac-ethyl, is the chemical name and it's been licensed here for a number of years. And this is some data that Martin Nagel Kirk did back in 2012 and '13. He put on three different rates of Palisade with a control at zero. He made these applications at plant growth stage or feet seven, which is when the second node is visible. And so the first column is lodging. And you can see, in 2012, even in the control, there wasn't a significant amount of lodging with 11%. I mean, there's some out there, but it's not like terrible. And notice the lodging did decrease as you increase the rate. The other thing to notice is the height did decrease, 35 compared to 31 at the full rate of Palisade dropped at four inches. And then here's the yield response, the application was a little bit higher, but not that much. And in going to the higher rates, it didn't really increase our yield that much, but that was just in one year, 2012. '13 had significantly more lodging, 48% in the control. And then that dropped off all the way down to zero at the 14 ounce rate of Palisade. And again, here, we've got about a four inch decrease in the height. But look at what happened to the yields in this year. Did not really impact the yields hardly at all. So in fact, the one where we had no lodging had 103, the one we had 48% lodging had 103 also. So Palisade is not going to like generate yield for you. It's not going to save yield. The only way it can save yield is by preventing this lodging, these curves here where you can't pick it up with a combine. And in this field, even with 48% lodging, they were able to pick it all up. So the question is, you probably don't want to combine a field that has 48% lodging. You know, you probably don't want to combine one that has 16 or even 8% lodging in it just because it's a lot more difficult to combine, it takes more time and it's just can be a real pain with plugs and everything else. But, you know, so the value that you would get out of Palisade is that, you know, ease and combine harvest where you don't have the significant lodging potential. So Palisade does what it's supposed to do. But generally I think in Michigan, you know, on this slide here, we were seeing yields going up to, here, we hit 150. You know, you got to get up to this level or a little higher even, before I think you're going to need a plant growth regulator on your wheat. There's those few exceptions to that, if you're a cover crop grower, or if you put manure on, where you have some residual nitrogen, you know, lodging could become a problem for you. And there's a few other management issues. If you plant real early at a high population, that can trigger some lodging. But Palisade for the most part, we haven't found it to be economically feasible for most of Michigan production, wheat production acres. All right, so let's talk about the varieties and how that impacts some of these different management practices. I would encourage all of you if you haven't looked at the MSU wheat performance trials, we test about 115 entries each year from about 14 companies. Of those 115 entries, about 65 of them are commercially available. The other 45 or so, 50 of them, are experimental lines. So we get to test not only the lines that they have in their commercial trials or they're commercially available, but we also get to test the new lines that these companies are coming out with. And we reported a bunch of data in this thing, it's available at the variety trials website. If you just search variety trials at MSU, it should come up, and so you can access that data there. But one of the things that we've been doing for the last few years here is this variety response to management. So one location every year, we plant six replications of those 115 varieties. Three of the replications we assign to what we call conventional management, the other three, we assign to what we call high management. The conventional management is pretty bare bones management. When you seed at 1.8 million seeds per acre, it gets a herbicide at Feekes 5 and then 90 pounds of nitrogen at green up. And that's the only thing in terms of management, this conventional, those three reps and this management get. The high management gets all of these conventional plus three additional. And the three additional are a second application of 30 pounds of nitrogen, a application of a fungicide at flag leaf Feekes 9, and then it gets a second fungicide at flowering 10.5.1. So if you look at the cost of these things, if you add up the costs for all of these, these three extra applications, then I've got like the application cost at $7 an acre. If you own your own sprayer, you know, maybe you're a little less than $7 an acre of actual costs to make the application. But just for the sake of this discussion, let's just say that we've got, these three things are gonna cost you about $65 an acre. When I did this, I pulled the wheat price of 5.12 per acre. And if you take that divided into here you got a 12.6 bushel breakeven. So these three extra management things need to produce an extra 12.6 bushels just to break even. Okay? So if you use the prices that we used earlier, you know, the higher price, like a 5.92 price for wheat, that lowers your breakeven down to 10.9 bushels but that's still a fairly significant chunk of wheat that you got to get per acre. So what this next chart is here, each blue bar represents a variety in the trials and the size of the bar is the high management yield average of the three replications that are high management minus the three conventional management replications equals the size of the bar. You can see, we have from the 20s all the way down to very little response, just depending on the variety it is. So that red bar right there in the middle is our breakeven at 12.6 bushels per acre. So everything on this side of the chart has a positive economic return and there were 47 varieties there, everything on the other side has a negative economic return and there were 37 varieties there. So if you go back and think about those trials that we had in all those different farms, you know, we didn't try to dictate what variety they plant. If they were planting varieties down here, you wouldn't expect to see much response. So, you know, knowing what your variety response is is pretty important. So I don't have time to like go through every variety or variety by variety basis. So what I would suggest, all the data for this is in that variety trial report. So search for variety trials at MSU, click on the wheat one, download it and go to, I think it's table five, is the conventional versus high management. And then you can look for every variety in there. And you can look at past year's reports if you want and see what the response to the management has been. Oh, and this is white tail, that's our new white wheat that's just out that some of you may have planted that had a 16 bushel yield response. So let's talk about something different here. One of the things that we're trying to do to increase yield is looking at extending green field period. Well, how do we extend that green field period? We've either got to plant varieties to flower earlier, and then we can harvest later, or we've got to do something to give that green or the plant more time to fill the heads. So we looked at applying some nitrogen products on a flag leaf and I want to caution you immediately upfront before you just go out and try to start putting nitrogen on flag leaf because you can do a lot of damage out there. You do way more damage than you can do good. But that being said, that's why we do small plot research, we can do this on a small area, and if we screw it up and find that it doesn't work at all, we're not losing out, you know, an 80 acre field. So we looked at some different products. We looked at solid urea, 28% UAN black label zinc, ESN, CoRon, Maximum N-pact. We applied most of these things in the middle of the day in the heat of the day between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM with the exception of treatment four and five, this is the solid urea, and then the liquid urea, the 20%. We did apply those in the evening because we were wondering if an evening application of these would reduce the amount of burn that we would experience on our flag leaves. Our target rate was 30 units of nitrogen. Now, we applied this with flat fan nozzles and you would never apply 28% with flat fan nozzles to the flag leaf ever, you would stream it on. But we did this on purpose this way so that we could determine what is the worst case scenario in terms of leaf burn and how badly is that going to impact our yield? The dry fertilizer I broadcasted on by hand, I made this application on May 31st, right at flag leaf. The variety that was planted here was SY100, and this received the high management treatment and same as what we were doing in the variety trials. So this is what it looked like after we applied it. It's a little bit hard to see but you could see a few plots down here, they have a little bit of yellow in 'em. And let me show you a zoomed in picture. Here, you can see some of the leaves look like they're a little bit yellow color out here you can see some back here. There's a plot and a little further back that shows even a little more yellowing. And if you really zoom in, look at the burning that we got on some of these leaves. I mean, this was some pretty severe burn that you do not want to have on your flag leaf 'cause that's the photosynthesis factory for green field. And then the other thing, notice these like black spots. So this was the black label zinc. I thought my technician was gonna string me out because we applied this at way over the, like 10 times the labeled rate because we're trying to hit that 30 pounds of nitrogen rate. And I thought we were going to see, after we sprayed this on here, I was like, Oh, this is going to be a crop failure here, but I'll show you what the results are. So here's our leaf scorch numbers, this is the burn, what we've observed. What we found is the urea, the 28% are our top two at 16% and 5.6%. They are statistically different from each other. And notice the time of day. The only difference between these two treatments is when they were made. So if you're going to apply 28%, an evening application would certainly be better than applying it right in the heat of the day when you get the most volatilization. And then some of these other products, the CoRon, the Maximum N-pact, black label zinc, you know, they had rates, leaf scorch of fives there and then we dropped down with black label zinc which is what I thought we were going to have significant damage, but we did not, only 1.6, that was same as the urea and the ESN as well as the untreated. So you know, we found out that you cannot apply 28% in the middle of the day and still expect good yields. So here's what our yields are, this is our yield column. Notice these yields right here, these all have an A after them, so they are statistically the same. So if you start looking at some of the products here, our solid urea after 7:00 PM actually had the highest yield. And then this is our solid urea in the middle of the day. Black label zinc actually did quite well. Although we applied it way above the labeled rate. That's only 6% nitrogen, and we were trying to put on 30 pounds of nitrogen per acre with that. Here's ESN, Maximum N-pact, and then the liquid urea after 7:00 PM that was down at 106, which is seven bushels lower, it's still statistically not different from each other but it still did have, you know, an impact on the yield compared to the urea. And then, you know, we've got the liquid urea applied in the middle of the day. We put an extra 30 pounds of nitrogen on and we lost a bushel of yield. So it definitely would not want to do that. And CoRon really did not help us at all either, in fact, we lost a couple bushels with that as well. So if you add some economics to it, I've got the cost per acre in this column here. And then the return per acre and the ones that were the two highest for these top two at 14.83 and $13, that's for solid urea. Notice this huge negative number, that's because we went way off label with black label zinc. We applied like 45 gallons to the acre and I think the recommendation is like two. But, you know, this is why we're doing research to see, you know, to see what happens here. So with that I think I wanna go ahead and start wrapping up. Ricardo will now start taking some questions. I just want to put a plug in. We have our Wheat Wisdom webinar series. We've had two of them so far, on Wednesday of this week, we've got Dr. Romino O'Rattle he's going to speak to us from Kansas State University. A week after that, we've got Dr. Pete Barry from United Kingdom. He's the head of crop physiology there at ADAS, very intelligent wheat guy, they grow some really good wheat in the United Kingdom. So he's going to speak to us. And then the week after that, we've got Peter Johnson from Ontario is going to talk to us about fine tuning wheat. And then I'll wrap up with a few things, and we're also gonna announce our Michigan wheat yield contest winners. And then Jody asked me to just mention this, since this is a wheat program. The wheat farmer checkoff program, there's a continuation referendum. Wheat growers will be receiving ballots in the mail here soon. These ballots are supposed to be mailed in between March 22nd and April 2nd. And if you have ever gotten a postcard that looks like this, you are on the mailing list, you will get a ballot. If you've not ever gotten one of these, contact Jody or myself and we'll make sure you get added to the list. That way you can have a vote and a say on whether the farmer checkoff program for wheat continues or not. All right, with that, Ricardo, I'm ready for some questions. - [Ricardo] All right, Dennis, I have a few questions here so let's go back - Okay. - [Ricardo] And give me one quick sec. Some of them are related to the fertilizer part, so are you ready, sir? - [Dennis] Okay. - [Ricardo] All right. So the first question was from Greg, he said, no-till wheat, would a response be reduced with broadcast applications? - [Dennis] Yeah, yeah, so that's a good question. So yeah, with no-till wheat that's particularly where they say that the in furrow application is beneficial particularly with no-till wheat because you're not incorporating that, you get that band, if you don't incorporate, you get that band of phosphate on the surface, rather than closer to where the seed can use it. 'Cause you plant your seed an inch and a quarter deep below that, so that phosphate has to get worked into the soil before you can take it up. So yeah, in a no-till situation, the benefit should be better. In the trials that we did, we did not do no-till, we did conventional tillage in all the sites. Because we had that broadcast incorporation treatment, I had to do those, so we just did tillage on all of them. - [Ricardo] All right, thank you. We have our next one from Robert. He said, was the spring top dress fertilizer the same across all, or when you label none, does that mean it was only seeded in fall? - [Dennis] Okay, so the question is, when I said none or the control for starter, did that mean it got a broadcast top dress in the spring? - [Ricardo] Like the others or, but clearly no fertilizer whatsoever. - [Dennis] Okay, so the control got nitrogen in the spring, but no starter fertilizer, no phosphate. So it only got urea. So the control did get nitrogen in the spring but it did not get any phosphate. - [Ricardo] Okay, and each was the same as the other ones as well. So the amount of phosphate was the same across the other... - [Dennis] Yeah, the spring nitrogen was the same across all treatments. - [Ricardo] Okay, all right. I think that's the question. Robert, if you want to add to that question, just type in the chat box, we can go back to that. The next one, why do you think dry fertilizer show better yield over liquid? - [Dennis] So yeah, the dry we had a little bit above, it wasn't statistically different. So, you know, from a statistics standpoint, you can't really say that the dry is better. But when you look at the economics, it was better because, and basically the reason that you're putting the same amount of phosphate on, it's cheaper to go dry than it is liquid just because the liquid fertilizer, the liquid version is more expensive per pound of phosphate. - [Ricardo] All right. Another question is, is there a danger of damaging the wheat seed if you blend the MAP with the wheat and broadcast together than like just incorporating later on? - [Dennis] Yeah, so we haven't found any problem with MAP mixing it with a seed. And we went up to 96 pounds of MAP per acre which gave us our 50 units of phosphate. And with that we didn't see any... We were a little bit concerned about the 10-34-0, and I've had some farmers tell me that you know, that 12.6 gallon rate, you're going to burn your wheat plant. And in the trials that we did, we didn't notice that but I am cognizant of that. So probably for the 10-34-0, that 12.6 rate maybe pushing the envelope a little bit. - [Ricardo] All right, Dennis, so... This one, I'm not quite sure for which part he was asking. I'm assuming that's from the wheat management trials, but Aaron, if I'm wrong, please just type your question again. But he was asking, was this white wheat or red wheat? Would the responses differ by variety? I'm not quite sure from which section that question came from. - [Dennis] Yeah, so I'd have to go back and look what varieties were planted at those locations. The thumb locations more than likely were white wheat, and the the other locations outside of the thumb more than likely were red wheat. But, you know, there's a variety response but I would not expect that the difference between red wheat and white wheat probably is not, as far as, what do I want to say? As a general rule, I wouldn't say that white wheat is more responsive or red wheat is more responsive. I think whether it's red or white, doesn't matter there's a variety difference. And that is just because it's a variety difference. It doesn't make any difference what color it is. - Dennis, then the next one is, has MSU done any test trials on yield for broadcast seeding versus seeding through the drill? - That's a good question. And no, we have not done anything but we do have test plots in the ground this year. We did our precision planting trials, and one of the things that we found when we were presenting our data to farmers is that they were asking that exact question. So we have, I think, five locations that we planted in fall of '20, where we broadcast incorporated with a Digger Man, a joker, different tillage tools. And we looked at different types of planters. We've got like a John Deere 750 no-till drill. We've got a Pottenger air seeder, we've had John Deere air seeder, a CASE IH 5400 no-till drill. We've got a lot of different equipment comparisons as well as the precision planner that we planted as well at five locations. So we're going to be able to answer that. I can have some preliminary data in July of this year but you know, we really need to get some data for two or three years to really answer that question. - Awesome. We have a very good question here from Russell. He's asking, do you think that the furrow fertilizer showing a more robust plant in the spring, like the one you have in your picture would set the plant up to perform better under a high management system later on? - That's a really good question. And I think the answer to that should be yes. The better plant you have going into the fall and then surviving through the winter and coming out of the spring, you know, the higher yield potential you have, and the likely the more responsive to additional management. So yeah, if you start thinking about maybe we should be stacking some of these management practices on top of each other, you're right on the money. So get that starter phosphorus out there in the fall. And now, there's some other things that are important here also. I mean, you got to get your timing of planting proper, your seeding rate for the time that you do plant so that you get a good crop established in the fall, and you want a uniform crop established in the fall. And then based on how much tillering you have in the spring as things are starting to warm up now as the snow melts off, get out there and look at your wheat field and see how many tillers you've got. If you're behind and you haven't got very many tillers or, you know, one or maybe two, get some nitrogen out there early. And if not, I mean, if it looks like the picture I had on the right there, you don't need to put nitrogen out early in that situation you've got adequate tillering, you've got good, healthy plant, you could probably get away with putting one application of nitrogen on, you know, after the first node is visible. And that'll save you a little bit of money by putting on one application. There's less risk of, you know, nitrogen loss from you know, spring rains, if you have to apply some early. So there's a lot of factors that go into, you know, how you should implement management in the spring. - All right. Well, Dennis, you answered all those questions. That was great. Do you have anything to add maybe a few things for the wheat growers in the call now, a few things they should be looking for for the next few weeks or so, now that it's getting warmer a little bit? Is there anything that they should be watching for? - Yeah, I would be scouting your fields and paying attention to them. See where you have drowned out spots or ponded spots and see how long the water lasts. Hopefully we got good enough drainage that we can get that water away within a few days. If the water persists out there for seven to 10 days, and then it freezes over, we can have some winter kill in those areas of the field. And then so fields that you have significant areas with that problem, you may want to back off your management a little bit, maybe not try to push that field quite so much. But in areas where you got, you know, good tillering, you've got good crop health and over wintered well, the snow melts away and everything's in good shape, you can push it and try to get some higher yields out of it. I would just add, everybody is welcome, if you're not signed up for that webinars series, Romino O'Rattle is fantastic, I think you get a lot out of him this week. That's Wednesday morning, it's free. There's no cost you just, and it's only an hour and a half long. - Yeah, and I do not say, but he's Brazilian, so that might be the reason why he's fantastic. - Of course. (laughter) - Just throw it out there. Well, all right, folks, thank you very much. Appreciate that.