Renewable Farming

High-yielding winter wheat starts this fall — with foliar feeding

The British magazine Farmers Weekly reports that wheat grower Tim Lamyman harvested a word record wheat yield of 245 bushels per acre (16.5 metric tons per hectare) on Aug. 22.

Growers in England and the European continent push for very high wheat yields with several foliar feedings each season. With winter wheat, that starts soon after wheat emerges in the fall.

It continues with several rounds of tissue testing or sap testing, followed by “prescription” foliar feeding: Three sprayer trips in the fall, six in the spring and early summer. 

The field population at harvest was 936 heads per square meter. 

We encourage you to visit the Farmers Weekly report, linked above. 

Virtually every sizable wheat field in the European Union has “tram lines” which are followed by sprayers. Even if a sprayer is not GPS equipped, that allows an operator to spray consistently without overlap. Europe has some of the world’s best sprayer technology, like the new Horsch sprayer with nozzles every 10 inches and a boom controlled by ground-sensing radar.

Tram lines for multiple sprayer passes

In the 2016 growing season, we anticipate that there’ll be a U.S. based sap testing laboratory which will speed the analysis cycle by one or two days. That will allow you to check what a growing crop needs before the deficiency becomes limiting.  This is the strategy used by EU wheat growers: They apply only the nutrients needed, when they’re needed.

This is where WakeUP helps. Several years of field trials have demonstrated that foliar nutrients applied with WakeUP in the tank mix are absorbed and translocated more thoroughly. That generally bumps up the yield response if a nutrient was needed. Our experience indicates that if a foliar provides a 5-bu. yield nudge alone, adding WakeUP to the tank mix adds another 4 bu., for a total of 9 bushels. 

The challenge with foliars is that without tissue analysis or sap analysis, most growers simply apply a broad spectrum of NPK and/or micronutrients as a kind of insurance against deficiencies. That can actually cause yield constraints — if some of the micronutrients are “fed” in excess. 

Foliar feeding needs to be one of those “precision ag” technologies. It’s probably profitable to apply some zinc and manganese if you’re spraying glyphosate, because glyphosate chelates most of the metal ions.  Missouri soybean grower Kip Cullers recommends that. 

Here’s a photo of wheat sprayed with a product called Foliar Blend, tank-mixed with five ounces of WakeUP Summer per acre in 20 gallons of water.

Glossy leaf coverage with WakeUP Summer

WakeUP provides three functions in such a foliar feeding spray:

1. Reduces surface tension of the spray solution. You can use a medium or even coarse spray to reduce drift, and get smooth coverage. A droplet hitting a smooth wheat leaf “creeps” over the surface rather than beading up into droplets.

2. Softens the waxy coating on the leaf temporarily, allowing nutrients to penetrate into the leaf’s photosynthetic metabolism.

3. Reduces internal surface tension of the sugar solution built by photosynthesis for 24 to 48 hours, speeding nutrients to roots and growing points.

It effect, WakeUP makes foliar nutrients more effective, using “colloidal micelle” technology.