Three years ago, when Weeks made the decision to broadcast his wheat crop, it was a big switch from the way we had always planted the crop. “The first year, there was some real concern, but it worked out well and we’re about to plant our third crop using this same strategy,” he says.

“Broadcasting wheat is faster than using a conventional grain drill. I use a pre-plant fertilizer to get tillers up and growing, and it works out well to blend the seed with the fertilizer, so I don’t have any extra passes across the field,” he says.

In eastern North Carolina, fall weather can get cool and wet and staying ahead of the weather with wheat is critical.  “Broadcasting allows us to better stay ahead of weather during that critical period of time in the fall,” he adds.

All his land is in conventional-tillage. He begins with two diskings to get rid of all the corn stalks — he plants almost all his wheat behind corn. “I plant my corn on 20-inch rows, and we get a lot of residue, so we usually have to go over the land a second time to get all the corn stalks turned under,” he says.

After that, a custom applicator uses a spreader truck to apply wheat blended with a combination N, P, and K fertilizer, based on soil samples. Last year he used 236 pounds per acre of a 12-10-31 fertilizer on his yield winning wheat crop.

The extra nitrogen in his starter fertilizer also helps get the wheat plants up quickly and allows them to produce more tillers early in the fall. He explains that the early fall tillers tend to make a better grain head, which is a key to making high yields with wheat in North Carolina.

He says three factors played a role in increasing his overall wheat yield and helped him win the state yield championship.

The variety, Dyna-Gro Shirley, really seems to work well on my farm, he says. “We also had good weather in the fall and we were able to get our wheat planted quickly with the broadcast system, and we had such a good winter growing season, we cut back some on our liquid nitrogen in the spring.

“Our wheat was so lush and green in March, I was afraid to put much nitrogen on it — I was afraid I would burn it.

“Carryover nitrogen from the previous year, which was plagued by drought conditions, also provided some extra nutrients, so it worked out well for us to cut back on it last spring,” Weeks says.

One of the warmest winters on record in eastern North Carolina did cause some problems for some growers and came really close to affecting all the wheat grown in the area, says Wood.