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When it comes to developing the best management strategies, Dale and Larry Landreth worry about only one crop — wheat. That’s because the father and son team from Reardan, Wash., grows wheat every year on all of the 2,500 acres that they own and rent.
Having no-tilled (known as direct seeding in the Pacific Northwest) since 1984, they’ve found the benefits include a sizeable reduction in fuel costs, being able to grow a crop on every acre every year without having to summer fallow and developing a reduced tillage system that almost completely eliminates erosion.
While growing only one crop on 2,500 acres, they follow a rotation that includes winter wheat, soft white spring wheat and soft red spring wheat. They direct seed one-third of the wheat in the fall and the remainder in the spring.
Larry says wheat yields may be slightly lower than those turned out by neighbors using more intensive tillage. But the big difference is that the Landreths avoid summer fallowing all their ground and harvest a wheat crop from every acre each year.
The area normally receives 15 to 16 inches of moisture each year, but it’s been closer to 12 inches during each of the past 6 years. “We used to get 17 inches of annual moisture, and an extra 3 to 4 inches can make a big difference in yields,” says Larry.
They started direct seeding in 1984 when they rented a drill to seed a quarter section. “It worked so…