If lodging is the risk, tillers may be the answer

If new genetics have higher yield capacity, making higher nitrogen rates make economic sense, how do you manage the increased lodging risk?

Amy Mangin, research agronomist and Ph.D. candidate at the University of Manitoba, is building off her Master’s project that looked at nitrogen rates for new wheat genetics. In this latest trial, she’s comparing lodging risk management at higher nitrogen rates with seeding rate changes and through the application of a PGR (plant growth regulator).

(You can see more about the N rate work in this Wheat School).

Mangin explains that there are two types of lodging — stem crack and crown lodging, where it’s the actual crown of the plant that twists and pulls away from the soil. In her work, she says that stem crack lodging is very rare; most lodging in Western Canada happens at the crown when the heads fill and the plant becomes top-heavy.

The line of thinking goes that a solution to this lodging is a shorter stem, and that certainly can help, but Mangin’s research suggests that at the same N rate, lodging risk is better managed using seeding rate than a product. Lower seeding rates (within reason) encourage the wheat plant to put up two to three tillers vs. only one or two, and the added crown size and roots anchor the plant more effectively.

But what about fusarium fungicide timing? Don’t extra heads cause an issue? Mangin says that that’s certainly a consideration, but that current fungicides offer a window wide enough to provide good suppression even on well-tillered fields (assuming the field is relatively uniform).

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