Five tips for taking wheat yields from average to optimal

From planting to harvest: Tips to optimize wheat yield potential


According to the USDA’s long-term projections, wheat acreage will increase by about a half a million acres this year. With that amount of growth potential coming in 2018, more growers will look for ways to increase their wheat yields. Paula Halabicki, BASF Technical Marketing Manager, shares key insights about how to improve wheat yield this season.


“According to the USDA, the three-year wheat yield average from 2012-2014 in the United States was 46 bushels per acre,” shared Halabicki. “With the 2016 National Wheat Growers Association yield winner achieving 198 bushels per acre, and the world record for wheat yield was 268.6 bushels per acre, there is a huge yield potential wheat growers in the U.S. haven’t yet tapped into.”


In order for growers to achieve increased yield potential, Halabicki emphasized it’s important to understand the growth phases of wheat and the critical yield elements taking place within each phase.



Here are five insights she shared regarding each growth phase:


1.     When preparing the soil and seeding at the start of the season, growers should try and achieve 25 plants per square foot, according to Purdue University. With up to 60 percent of final yield potential determined at planting, it’s important to ensure planting is done as efficiently as possible.


2.     The head number is determined during the tillering stage. At this stage, it’s important to achieve 60 to 70 heads per square foot, as this is the minimum number of heads required to maximize yield.


3.     The kernel number is determined during the jointing or stem extension phase. Growers should do their best to achieve at least 35 kernels per head in order to maximize their yield potential come harvest. Reducing stress on the plant, such as disease pressure, is critical during this phase.


4.     At flowering, it’s important for growers to be aware of the fact that head scab and other diseases can reduce yield and quality. Making a fungicide application on the flag leaf before disease development can help maximize efficacy.


5.     Lastly, at harvest, growers need to make sure they have their post-harvest weeds controlled to maximize the amount of water stored in the soil. Using a post-harvest herbicide for burndown can help decrease weeds and increase water stored.


By following these tips, wheat growers can work toward closing the gap between an average yield and winning yields.


For recommendations specific to their operation, growers should talk with their BASF Innovation Specialist. To learn more about BASF’s wheat portfolio, visit


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