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8 Ways To Make No-Till Wheat A Winner

Choosing the right varieties, herbicides and seeder are among the keys to successfully adding wheat to rotations, says Kentucky no-tiller John Young.

With grain still trading at very attractive prices, no-tillers may be able to increase their profits by adding wheat to their traditional corn-and-soybean rotation. This scenario is especially attractive in regions where soybeans can be double-cropped behind winter wheat.

But growers must step up their management game to be successful, says longtime no-tiller John Young, who farms 4,000 acres of corn, wheat and double-cropped soybeans near Herndon, Ky.

Every decision about variety selection, pest eradication and nutrient application is critical, as is timeliness with seeding, spraying, fertilization, harvesting and selling.

“When I was a kid, you put the wheat out, put a little nitrogen on it in the spring and you hoped for the best. You can’t make a profit doing that anymore,” says Young, whose father, Harry, helped pioneer no-till methods during the 1960s.

What follows below are a number of tips Young shared at the 2011 National No-Tillage Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, designed to help growers make no-till wheat a profitable part of their rotation.

1 Choose The Right Fields

No-tillers adding wheat to their rotations must first decide which fields are best for wheat production.

Young’s typical rotation is corn, followed by wheat and double-crop soybeans, but some fields he no-tills to corn that won’t go into wheat.

Wheat usually does best in well-drained soils, even if they’re a bit thin or rocky, Young says. A no-tiller’s best tool here is knowing the farm’s soil types.

“If some fields chronically flood in the winter, don’t bother planting…

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John-dobberstein2

John Dobberstein

John Dobberstein is senior editor of No-Till Farmer magazine and the e-newsletter Dryland No-TillerHe previously covered agriculture for the Tulsa World and worked for daily newspapers in Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Joseph, Mich. He graduated with a B.A. in journalism and political science from Central Michigan University.

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