What growers need to remember is that any kind moisture, including snow melt will give the root system of wheat a big boost. So, what looks like very little tillering may turn out to be better than 15-20 bushel per acre wheat, he says.

If the grower makes the decision to not apply nitrogen and generally wait and see whether they have enough tillers to make a crop, they have essentially made the decision to lose some money. At $8-$9 a bushel that could be significant money.

A better approach may be to put out 50 — up to 80 — percent of their normal side-dress. If the grower decides to take the wheat out, they still get some benefit from the fertilizer. If the wheat is truly bad, it’s not going to use much of it, so most of fertilizer will be in the soil or in the crop residue, if they destroy the wheat.

Shroyer says jokingly, just because you kill a poor crop doesn’t mean it’s going to rain. Without the rain, the next crop isn’t going to do too well either. So, in many cases it may be better to stick with what you’ve got.

Top-dressing on a thin stand of wheat will be a major issue wheat growers will face this year. “I can understand the grower’s perspective of not throwing good money after bad. However, if they follow that line of thinking, they will have made the decision to lose $8-$9 a bushel wheat, plus the cost they already have in the crop,” he says.

In the Carolina and Virginia, wheat acres are expected to be up some from 2009, which was a disaster for the crop in the upper Southeast. Nationwide wheat acres are up by about 10 percent and prices continue to soar in 2011. Winter wheat seeded area for 2011 is expected to total 41 million acres, up 10 percent from 2010.

Approximate wheat class and acreage breakdowns are: red winter, 29.6 million; soft red winter, 7.76 million; and white winter, 3.66 million.

Taking a wait-and-see attitude isn’t usually a good thing in farming, but in the case of wheat in the winter of 2011, it may be a good course of action.

rroberson@farmpress.com