Progressive Farmer May 2016 : Page 40

WHEAT PHOTO: KELLI KELLEY Reaping What They Sow A detailed, aggressive fertility plan produces a wheat yield double the Oklahoma state average. BY DA N CRU M M E T T L ike many Oklahoma winter wheat producers, father-and-son team Boots and Jonathan Kelley had weather-affected fi elds in 2015. Some fi elds yielded only 20 bushels per acre (bpa) on their three-farm, continuous-wheat and cattle operation in Washington County, near Bartlesville. They weren’t alone. Heavy rains in the fi nal stages of the season and outbreaks of striped rust robbed many producers in the Southern Plains of a good yield and timely harvest opportunities. Poor conditions left growers across Oklahoma with a hard red winter wheat yield average of 35 bpa. one luCKY BreaK. However, unlike many producers whose entire farms produced in the 20s, the Kelleys also had 200 acres of Everest wheat that averaged 69 bpa. Within that farm, 19.8 acres binned an average of 76.78 bushels—the best yield recorded in all of Oklahoma. The reasons: Extreme weather, other than a 5-inch rain just before harvest, missed that farm. Plus, the Kelleys paid close attention to fertility throughout the growing season. “The differences we saw had nothing to do with the variety and everything to do with fertility,” Jonathan says. The Kelleys started farming full-time Boots and Jonathan Kelley credit their fertilizer program for their high-yield wheat. PHOTO: JIM PATRICO together as Diamond K Enterprises in 2007. Their land ranges from deep, rich Caney River bottom soils to shallower upland Osage Prairie soils near the Kansas state line. The family concentrates on about 900 acres of minimum-till wheat for grazing and grain. norMal Beginning. The 2015 crop began like any other, Jonathan explains. “We’d done a 2.5-acre grid sample of our wheat land in August 2014 and planted 90 pounds of Everest on Sept. 1 on 7.5-inch row spacings through a JD455 drill,” he recalls. After planting (without using starter fertilizer), the Kelleys put down 50 pounds of nitrogen (N) per acre. “We lease our wheat pastures for winter grazing, so that’s why I was using the 90-pound seeding rate,” Jonathan notes. With the wheat already planted, Jonathan was busy custom-cutting soybeans for a friend in November 2014 when he noticed parts of the fi eld he was in included test strips overseen by Royal-Grow agronomist JJ Stoeckl and company owner Kelly Mull. “I liked what I saw in the yields those test strips were producing, so I arranged a meeting with JJ. I told him I had some wheat in the ground that I’d like to grow to 100-bushel yields. The rest is history,” Jonathan says. Royal-Grow is a Tulsa-based supplier of soil biological and fertility packages, which include a variety of enzymes, microbes and micronutrients. FertilitY BooSt. Kelley says Stoeckl looked at the grid-sample maps established in late-summer 2014 and then prescribed a custom liquid fertilizer blend for one of the Kelleys’ 200-acre farms based on the 50 pounds of N applied at planting. Ultimately, the Kelleys, Mull and Stoeckl settled on a per-acre yield goal for the farm of 80 bushels. “JJ’s material all went down at topdress in early spring, right after the crop broke dormancy,” Jonathan says. 40 T H E P R O G R E S S I V E FA R M E R / M AY 2 016 ▶ YOUR FARM

Reaping What They Sow

Dan Crummett, Contributor

A detailed, aggressive fertility plan produces a wheat yield double the Oklahoma state average.

Like many Oklahoma winter wheat producers, father-and-son team Boots and Jonathan Kelley had weather-affected fields in 2015. Some fields yielded only 20 bushels per acre (bpa) on their three-farm, continuous-wheat and cattle operation in Washington County, near Bartlesville.

They weren’t alone. Heavy rains in the final stages of the season and outbreaks of striped rust robbed many producers in the Southern Plains of a good yield and timely harvest opportunities. Poor conditions left growers across Oklahoma with a hard red winter wheat yield average of 35 bpa.

ONE LUCKY BREAK. However, unlike many producers whose entire farms produced in the 20s, the Kelleys also had 200 acres of Everest wheat that averaged 69 bpa. Within that farm, 19.8 acres binned an average of 76.78 bushels—the best yield recorded in all of Oklahoma.

The reasons: Extreme weather, other than a 5-inch rain just before harvest, missed that farm. Plus, the Kelleys paid close attention to fertility throughout the growing season.

“The differences we saw had nothing to do with the variety and everything to do with fertility,” Jonathan says.

The Kelleys started farming full-time together as Diamond K Enterprises in 2007. Their land ranges from deep, rich Caney River bottom soils to shallower upland Osage Prairie soils near the Kansas state line.

The family concentrates on about 900 acres of minimum-till wheat for grazing and grain.

NORMAL BEGINNING. The 2015 crop began like any other, Jonathan explains. “We’d done a 2.5-acre grid sample of our wheat land in August 2014 and planted 90 pounds of Everest on Sept. 1 on 7.5-inch row spacings through a JD455 drill,” he recalls. After planting (without using starter fertilizer), the Kelleys put down 50 pounds of nitrogen (N) per acre.

“We lease our wheat pastures for winter grazing, so that’s why I was using the 90-pound seeding rate,” Jonathan notes.

With the wheat already planted, Jonathan was busy custom-cutting soybeans for a friend in November 2014 when he noticed parts of the field he was in included test strips overseen by Royal-Grow agronomist JJ Stoeckl and company owner Kelly Mull.

“I liked what I saw in the yields those test strips were producing, so I arranged a meeting with JJ. I told him I had some wheat in the ground that I’d like to grow to 100-bushel yields. The rest is history,” Jonathan says.

Royal-Grow is a Tulsa-based supplier of soil biological and fertility packages, which include a variety of enzymes, microbes and micronutrients.

FERTILITY BOOST. Kelley says Stoeckl looked at the grid-sample maps established in late-summer 2014 and then prescribed a custom liquid fertilizer blend for one of the Kelleys’ 200-acre farms based on the 50 pounds of N applied at planting.

Ultimately, the Kelleys, Mull and Stoeckl settled on a per-acre yield goal for the farm of 80 bushels.

“JJ’s material all went down at topdress in early spring, right after the crop broke dormancy,” Jonathan says.

Stoeckl recommended 12.8 ounces per acre of Enzyme Max, a product designed to stimulate microbial activity in the soil. “Also, we used Ultra Sweet sugar, a biostimulant and microbial mix, along with a gallon per acre of 0-0-50, which is specially designed for foliar application,” Stoeckl recalls.

The topdress application included 1 gallon per acre of Royal-Grow Soil Revitalizer (humatic acid) and a “micropack” of zinc, copper, manganese and boron. In addition to the specialty fertility application, the Kelleys put on 33.5 units of N at topdress and “rode it out ’til harvest.”

SILVER LINING. “Shortly after the topdress application, we noticed our spray rig had malfunctioned in some areas, and the difference in plant vigor and coloration was immediately visible between the untreated and treated wheat,” Kelley says.

That mid-season visual difference turned into vastly improved yields on the farm. The 76.78-bushel average from the farm’s best-producing 20 acres was more than double the state average for the year and only slightly below the Kelleys’ 80-bushel yield goal.

Before adopting the enhanced fertility program, the Kelleys traditionally made two applications of nitrogen and a topdress application in late winter.

That combination yielded an average 20 to 30 bushels per acre in 2015, compared with much higher yields from the farm on which the additional nutrients were applied.

The investment in additional nutrients provided a good return, Stoeckl says. “For that investment, the Kelleys realized an increased net profit on that 200 acres of $167 per acre over their traditional nutrient-management plan.”

BONUS MANAGEMENT. Bruce Peverley, Oklahoma State University Tulsa-based Extension agricultural educator, says the Kelleys’ experience vividly shows what higher management of fertility on wheat can do.

“Jon’s 90-pound seeding rate isn’t all that uncommon in northeastern Oklahoma,” Peverley notes. “A lot of our growers plant dual-purpose—for grazing and grain­—and the more plants you have in the ground, the more plants you have to yield well when management and weather combine for a good production year.

“What the Kelleys had in 2015 just shows what wheat can do if you spend time managing the crop for its full potential,” he adds.

With the success of the 2015 test acres fresh in their minds, the Kelleys upgraded their John Deere 1590 no-till drill with Dawn row cleaners, a liquid fertilizer system and a repurposed grass seed box to handle granular applications, before planting the 2016 crop.

“With what we learned in 2015, if the weather will cooperate, we think our planter modifications will help us manage the new nutrient applications and seed placement well enough to give us a shot at our new yield goal of 100 bushels per acre,” Jonathan says.

Read the full article at http://dtnpf-digital.com/article/Reaping+What+They+Sow/2455024/297936/article.html.

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