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Ron Mulford is shooting for maximum economic yields with no-till wheat. He feels so strongly about his chances, the University of Maryland researcher at Quantico, Md., thinks he can surpass 111-bushel wheat.
“A couple years ago, I presented a program to our checkoff board for beginning a program for 100-bushel wheat and barley,” says Mulford. “We feel this is a systems approach.”
Mulford believes seeding rates and early planting dates are the keys to increasing no-till wheat yield. He tried planting at later dates and found the increased seeding rates weren’t very profitable.
“We thought that if we planted wheat late in the year, approaching Thanksgiving, all we had to do was increase the seeding rate to compensate for yield loss,” Mulford says. “To the contrary, we find that to be very different.”
As Mulford increased seeding rates from 100 to 150 pounds per acre, he saw no difference in yield. In fact, the yield began to drop off at all seeding rates with the late planting date.
“If you are using 100 pounds of seed, most of it that is certified will be in the 83- to 95-percent range of germination,” he says. “If you’re planting 100 pounds of seed, you’re really only planting 85 pounds of good seed.”
Mulford found that with no-till wheat some growers have been planting at the same rates as conventional wheat farmers. No-tillers should push the seeding rate at least 10 percent above that of conventional wheat.