Ronnie Lumpkins has a bit of a management dilemma: how to manage a wheat crop that emerged in two distinct phases; about half came up shortly after a late October planting; the rest after a combination of late December rain and snow provided enough moisture for seed to germinate.

Lumpkins, a Fannin County, Texas, grain producer, says the various stages of growth makes management difficult, but he’s convinced that having adequate nitrogen available to that new growth will be essential to “jump start it.”

He intends to apply liquid nitrogen as soon as the soil dries out enough to get a sprayer in the field. “Liquid fertilizer will be immediately available,” he says.

Fields near Lumpkins’ Leonard, Texas, home show some wheat up to a decent stand and tillering nicely. And some, in the same field, has just emerged and stands about 2 inches out of the ground. Planting depth, he says, is the difference.

“The crop is up and down. About 75 percent of it is okay. We have problem on about 25 percent of it.”

He said other farmers in the area have varying levels of crop stands.

“We only have two or two-and-half months for this wheat to tiller,” says James Swart, area Texas AgriLife Extension IPM agent. “If we had this stand in November, we would see no problems.”

Lumpkins says some of his late-emerging wheat may produce no more than 60 percent of a crop. “So, we’re looking at some yield loss. But I think vernalization will be okay.”

Swart has never seen wheat emerge with “two distinct wheat crops. I don’t know how much tillering will compensate for stand loss,” he says. “Farmers can do okay with $8 wheat and 50 bushels per acre, but at 40 bushels per acre it will be dicey.”

Lumpkins has less wheat than he did last year. “I’ll plant a lot of corn this spring,” he says. “I had a lot of wheat last year, and I need to plant corn for rotation.”

He doesn’t anticipate having to abandon much wheat and replant to corn. “I think most of the wheat will be okay. About 50 percent came up on time; the rest did not emerge until the Christmas moisture brought it up.”