• Plant Health

Winter Wheat Growth Starts With Fall Zinc

Close up of the spike of a wheat plant
There’s a simple formula for maximizing winter wheat production in Montana: good weather plus optimum nutrition equals higher yields. Since no farmer can control the weather, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are options to help fuel bigger gains. However, it takes more than macronutrients to reach your wheat variety’s full potential. The potential impact of zinc is anything but small.
Several years of tissue testing have revealed a common occurrence in winter wheat fields come spring: crops are often deficient in zinc. This micronutrient is the engine that can help drives stronger emergence, improved stand establishment and healthier root growth. When dollars are made by a crop’s ability to quickly resume vegetative growth after winter, zinc deficiencies that hinder early-season development can have long-term consequences.
A proactive approach can help ensure sufficient zinc levels in the spring. The solution actually starts in the fall. Zinc can positively influence root development and early growth, which can improve hardiness and winter survival rates. A stronger wheat crop going into winter has improved chances of breaking dormancy to take advantage of spring rains, thus developing at a faster rate.
Micronutrient applications can be easy to overlook, but they show their value in incremental increases to crop productivity. Considering the cost of seed and potential winter kill, there are potential benefits for a zinc application in the fall. And premium products, such as MAX-IN® Zinc, provide additional value in flexibility and efficacy. MAX-IN Zinc can be tank mixed with many wheat herbicides to help limit application costs, and it contains patented CornSorb® technology, which was shown to improve uptake of the zinc in the 2014 Answer Plot trials.  
The reality of wheat production is that margins are tight, particularly when crop prices are low. But the earlier you assess and correct your winter wheat crop’s nutrient needs, the earlier you can set your crops up for valuable gains in spring. Work with your local agronomist to determine the best plan for fall nutrient applications.
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