Agronomy Advice
April 19, 2024

Help Late-Drilled Wheat Crops Catch Up

By: Natalie Wood

Did you know that up to 50% of wheat leaf samples show a deficiency in zinc, magnesium, copper and manganese?

Wheat field
Wheat Field

With around one in two wheat crops not reaching their yield potential, addressing micronutrient deficiencies will be key to unlocking the yield potential of cereal crops.

We can also use micronutrients to help late-drilled wheat crops catch-up to close that yield gap when compared against earlier drilled crops.

Prevention is better than cure

We talk a lot about precision, identifying what your growing crops need and applying only that amount. The benefits of such precision are two-fold when we are talking about nitrogen fertiliser:

  1. No excess nitrogen to leach into the surrounding environment
  2. Cost savings associated with buying only the fertiliser you really need, which will in turn deliver a higher return on your investment

Although we still recommend a precise approach, it looks a little different for micronutrients. To inform your decisions, we’d recommend using previous years’ soil and leaf analysis along with this years’ soil test results and tissue analysis carried out before each T1 timing (Fungicide) timing. If you wait to see a micronutrient deficiency show up in the field, then the chances are you are already too late, crop growth will have already been negatively impacted. It’s best to anticipate deficiencies before they occur to secure maximum yield potential and avoid any quality issues.

This year, many of us will have drilled our cereal crop later than normal, so there is likely to be a lower level of biomass coming out of the winter than we’d like to see and 
the excessive wet weather we’ve had recently will have exacerbated the situation. Biomass is directly linked to our ultimate yield, but we can use micronutrients to manipulate the crop to increase the grains/ears which will fill at least some of the yield gap. As we approach growth stage 30-32 (or T1 timing) of our wheat crops, this is the best time to replenish micronutrients.

What micronutrients does wheat need?

  • Manganese: increases lignin content in the roots which will support healthier, stronger root systems. This nutrient also has a role to play in chlorophyll and photosynthesis.
  • Magnesium: a key component of chlorophyll. A sufficient amount of magnesium will drive photosynthetic activity in the leaf.
  • Copper: supports lignification which will reduce blind grain and lodging.
  • Zinc: can increase grain number and size as well as optimising canopy development.

Yara recommendations 

We would recommend a product such as YaraVita Gramitrel which is a foliar micronutrient formulation specifically created for a cereals crop. It contains manganese, magnesium, copper and zinc; all the micronutrients essential for a healthy, thriving cereal crop.

Trials have shown that you can expect to see a yield increase of around 0.5t/ha after applying YaraVita Gramitrel at a rate of 2 litres/ha at growth stage 30-32 (or T1 timing). This represents an increased return of 7:1 ROI.

Recommended micronutrients

The “one can” key nutrient solution for deficient cereal crops. ROI: 7:1 Extra yield required to cover the cost? 70-80kg Recommendation application rate at GS30 - 32 2 l/ha Extra yield 0.55 t/ha