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From the Pacific Northwest to the Great Plains to the Eastern Corn Belt, no-tillers John Aeschliman, Dan Forgey, Allen Dean and Romey Bardwell grow different varieties of dryland wheat in different soils in areas receiving vastly different amounts of rain.
But these long-term no-tillers generally agree on what it takes to push wheat yields to the economic maximum. Their systems focus on managing residue, harvest details, equipment performance, seeding rates, row spacing, top-notch tillering, pest control and crop rotations.
“I like wheat,” says Forgey, who manages crop production on Cronin Farms in Gettysburg, S.D. Cronin Farms grows 3,700 acres of wheat — both winter and hard red spring wheat.
“I fully expect to make as much money on spring wheat as corn at the present price of corn, so long as we get the protein and yields up,” he says.
In 2009, hard red spring wheat yields were good, Forgey says, averaging around 70 bushels per acre.
“If we have enough moisture, we can grow 80 to 90 bushels per acre with winter wheat and 70 bushels per acre with spring wheat. I know we are going to have failures when we don’t have enough moisture,” Forgey says. “Our soil profile is full and so we are going to push our yields.”
Average rainfall at Cronin Farms is 18.5 inches a year. In eastern Washington, Aeschliman farms three areas with varying amounts of rainfall: 12 to 14 inches; 15 to 18 inches; and 18 to 20 inches per year. Most…