Do you need a wheat plant growth regulator?

OMAFRA’s Joanna Follings and RealAg’s Peter Johnson have plenty to report on from nitrogen and plant growth regulator trials.

Will a plant growth regulator help wheat growers harvest a better wheat crop?

That’s the question Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) cereal specialist Joanna Follings and RealAgriculture agronomist Peter Johnson tackle in this 2021 Ontario Diagnostic Days video report.

We join Follings and Johnson at a wheat trial in Arva, Ont. — one of three locations testing how variety choice, nitrogen rate and timing, and use of a growth regulator (PGR) can impact wheat yield and performance. Overall, our wheat researchers report some significant environment, variety, and nitrogen interactions during the first year of the planned three-year trial.

Four wheat varieties are featured in the trial including: B654, Adrianus, 25R74 and PRO 81. Johnson says this group features significant genetic differences, but they all suffer from lodging when excessive rates of nitrogen are applied. It’s also important to consider soil type when determining nitrogen rates, he adds, noting that powerful soil and excessive rates are a recipe for lodged wheat.

If growers opt to apply a PGR, timing is critical, says Follings. Both she and Johnson recommend application at growth stage 30 or 31 for optimum results. The researchers have noticed maturity delays of up to three days when PRGs are utilized, but overall standability does improve. Typically, there is a reduction in height, but there very little reduction in the total straw produced (the shortened stems are thicker).

The researchers agree that PGRs are a welcome tool for the management toolbox, but more research is required to better understand how variety, nitrogen and growth regulators interact to impact wheat. Temperature at PGR application is one factor that Johnson feels requires more study.

“They’re an awesome tool, but clearly when things go wrong we can get unacceptably short wheat,” says Johnson. (Watch the full video report below.)

Click here for more 2021 Ontario Diagnostic Days videos.

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