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.
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…