Wheat growers in the Carolinas are coming off one of their best years in recent history, and with wheat prices still good, another large crop is in the ground and by all accounts looks like another good one.

Getting the crop through the winter and warmer spring weather and heavy grain-set is going to be critical to producing high yields and good profits.

North Carolina State University Small Grains Specialist Randy Weisz says a simple thing like splitting nitrogen application can mean big yields and big bucks for growers.

At a field day in Rowland, N.C., last spring, the North Carolina researcher showed growers the results of different timing of nitrogen application.

In a block of wheat planted at 35 seeds per square foot, he got the expected thick stand. Coming into February, he had a stand above the threshold at which it is recommended to apply early nitrogen. If wheat looks that good, no nitrogen should be applied to your crop in February, Weisz says.

In one test 120 pounds of nitrogen per acre was applied to this wheat in early February. Weisz points out that this is exactly what the North Carolina Wheat Production Guide says NOT to do.

In an adjacent plot, half the recommended rate of nitrogen (60 pounds per acre) was applied in February and the other half was applied at normal lay-by in mid-March.

When the nitrogen was applied becomes critically important if you skip over from May of 2011 to February of 2012.

One advantage of the ongoing La Niña weather pattern is that it is a great environment to grow wheat in the Southeast.