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Practices Used by Virginia Small Grains Yield Contest Winners in 1996-97

Crop and Soil Environmental News, September 1997

Daniel E. Brann
Extension Specialist

The Virginia Small Grains Yield Contest sponsored by the Virginia Small Grains Association, Virginia Cooperative Extension, and agri-businesses had over 60 entries in 1997. This three acre, yield verified, contest is divided into wheat, no-till wheat, and barley. Cash prizes are provided by companies that have varieties in the top three wheats; Gustafson sponsors the no-till division; Cargill and the Virginia Crop Improvement Association sponsors the barley division.

Wheat Division

There were 36 entries in the wheat division from fifteen counties located in the Coastal Plain and Piedmont regions. First place went to Walter S. Pittman in Surry County who grew 119.6 bu/A with Raxil treated Pioneer Brand 2643 wheat planted in six inch rows. Following peanut harvest, he tilled the ground with a field cultivator, broadcast 35 N-70 phosphate-70 potash/A field cultivated and then planted on October 25, 1996. He applied 60 N plus Sulfur/A on February 9th and 80 N plus sulfur/A on March 15th. Karate insecticide and Tilt were applied with the nitrogen on March 15th. Second place went to Louis and Randolph Aigner of Henrico County. The Aigners grew 124.5 bu/A (the county average handicap system put them in second place) with Baytan treated FFR 555 wheat from Southern States. Following corn harvest the land was rotary mowed, chiseled, and disked before being planted in four inch rows at 12 seeds/row foot on October 15th. Preplant fertilizer was 35 N-70 phosphate-80 potash plus 5 sulfur/A, followed by 40 N/A in February and 90 N/A in March. Harmony Extra was applied with the February nitrogen. Cerone was applied on April 11th and tilt was applied on April 16th. Third placed came from Northampton County on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. George Floyd produced 119.7 bu/A with Baytan treated NK-Coker 9835 planted at 23 seeds/row foot in seven inch rows on October 30th following doublecrop soybean harvest. Mr. Floyd moldboard plowed, light disked, broadcast 25 N-25 phosphate-77 potash plus 21 sulfur/A and light disked again before seeding. On February 3rd he broadcast 53 N followed by 52 N plus 10 sulfur/A and Harmony Extra was applied on March 14th . Tilt was applied on April 2nd.

The following farmers also had conventional wheat yield entries above 100 bu/A. Maxwell Watkins of Dinwiddie County, R. L. Blanton, Jr. of Amelia County, Bill Nelson of Henrico County, Jason Benton of Middlesex County, Donald Turner of Dinwiddie County, Tom Banks of Prince George County, Larry Brown of Southampton County, G. C. Nicholas of Chesapeake County, Courtney Price of Prince George County and David Taliaferro of Essex County. Four of these farmers used FFR 555, two used Pioneer Brand 2684, and one each used FFR 523, NK-Coker 9835, NK-Coker 9803, and Pioneer Brand 2580. Many of our current varieties have high yield potential when managed well. All entries in this group except Brown used Baytan treated seed and six of them did not use any fungicide in the spring. Benton, Brown, Nichols, and Price used Tilt in the spring. Full season disease control is essential to high yields but automatic application of fungicide at any time is NOT! All except two of the above entries were planted in late October. Two 100+ bu/A entries were planted in mid-November. Timely planting is important but sometimes favorable winter temperatures will improve early tillering and thus make high yields possible. Seven of the above entries were planted in seven inch rows, two in six inch and one in four inch rows. High yields are possible in row widths at least up to 7.5 inches. Narrow rows contribute to higher yields but are not essential for high yields. All high yielding entries planted at least 20 seeds/row foot or at least 120 pounds of seed per acre. All of the above entries applied nitrogen at least twice after planting except Tom Banks and G. C. Nicholas. In fact, R. L. Blanton and Larry Brown applied nitrogen three times after planting. Total nitrogen after planting was generally in the 100 to 130 pounds/A range. EVERY ENTRY IN THE TOP GROUP APPLIED PRE-PLANT FERTILIZER! Three of the lowest four entries did NOT use fertilizer at planting. There are scientific reasons and local research that shows fall fertilization can increase yields in seasons when fall/early winter temperatures are cooler than normal. These results support the importance of fall application of phosphorus and potassium rather than waiting until late winter or spring. Harmony Extra was used by most entries. Karate was the insecticide of choice to control cereal leaf beetle.

No Till Wheat Division

There were 14 entries in the no-till wheat division again coming from the Coastal Plain and Piedmont regions. Two the three top entries came from Orange and Culpeper counties. Second place was again from Henrico County.

Ted Haberland of Orange produced 111.1 bu/A with Baytan treated FFR 555 planted on 7.5 inch rows at 26 seeds/row foot. He planted on October 16th after harvest of full season soybeans. Fertilizer included 33 N-104 phosphate- 120 potash/A on October 15th , 45 N on February 20th, 30 N on March 20th , and 30 N on May 2nd . Harmony Extra was applied with the March nitrogen. No fungicide was applied. Louis and Randolph Aigner won second place with 112.8 bu/A. They used Baytan treated Pioneer Brand 2691 seed planted behind full season soybeans on October 18th at 26 seeds/row foot in eight inch rows. Fertilizer included 40 N - 95 phosphate- 60 potash- 5 sulfur/A pre-plant, 40 N plus 5 sulfur/A in February, and 80 N plus 5 sulfur/A in March. Harmony Extra was applied in February. Cerone was applied on April 4th and Tilt on April 14th. Third place went to James Bowen of Culpeper with 102.7 bu/A. Mr. Bowen planted Baytan treated Pioneer Brand 2580 in seven inch rows on October 6th behind full season soybeans. On November 8th he applied 36 N - 92 phosphate- 62 potash/A. On February 8th he applied 60 N/A. Mr. Bowen's entry shows there is no standard formula for success. Inputs need to be adjusted based on individual field situations.

Three other entries in the no till division produced over 100 bu/A. They were Winston Ellis of Essex, Bill Bendle Jr. of Henrico, and John G. Nash of Hanover. One planted FFR 555, one Pioneer Brand 2643, and one Pioneer Brand 2684. All planted at least 150 pounds of seed/A into full season soybean stubble.

Excellent entries with no till yields in the 80 to 90 bu/A range were obtained where wheat was planted no till into corn or cotton. Obviously, wheat can be produced no till planted after numerous crops but no-till wheat can be especially successful when planted no till behind full season soybeans.

Barley Division

There were ten entries in the state barley contest. The state winner was J. N. Mills of King William County with 145.0 bu/A with Nomini barley. Following corn, he used a stalk shredder, mulch tiller, light disk and planted at 23 seeds/row foot on October 8th. Fertilizer included 30 N - 60 phosphate-100 potash - 5 sulfur/A on October 7th, 20 N/A on December 6th, 40 N/A on February 12th and 50 N/A on March 18th. Harmony Extra was applied in December and Cerone was applied in April. Second place was won by Clifton Brann of Northumberland county with 143.9 bu/A and third place by Johnny Davis of Caroline County with 133.3 bu/A. Both Brann and Davis used Callao barley, planted behind corn using conventional tillage, and applied complete broadcast fertilizer pre-plant. Brann applied 48 N plus 6 sulfur/A on January 22 and 70 N/A on March 11th. Davis applied 50 N plus sulfur on January 25th and 50 N plus sulfur/A on March 15th. Both used Cerone on April 15th.

Entries from W. Thomas Hicks of Caroline, Ray Ellis of Essex, and Ronnie Russell of Middlesex exceeded 125 bu/A. All ten entries in the barley yield contest exceeded 100 bu/A. Barley at these yield levels, equitable prices, and double crop soybeans fits well into eastern Virginia cropping systems.

For a complete copy of the practices used by farmers in the yield contest contact Dan Brann, Virginia Tech, Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences Department, 420 Smyth Hall, Blacksburg, VA 24061-0403.

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