For wheat growers in eastern North Carolina, current circumstances are drastically different from last year.

Acreage and grain prices have both declined, and the drought has eased. Recent rains, however, may have set the stage for a different problem: nutrient loss and possible deficiencies.

“Nutrient loss after rain is a problem on the sandy soils in our area,” Rick Morris, a regional agronomist with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said. “I’d advise wheat producers to tissue sample now, before top-dressing, to find out if sulfur, manganese or any other nutrient is needed.”

Some growers in southeastern counties have already begun top-dressing, but those using liquid nitrogen have just started. Those growers still have time to submit tissue samples. It only takes the NCDA&CS lab two days to process the samples, and test results are posted online immediately.

Morris urges growers who suspect nutrient-related problems in their fields to contact their NCDA&CS regional agronomist or other local agricultural adviser. These professionals can give advice on collecting soil and plant tissue samples that can help diagnose the problem. If test results indicate the need for sulfur or other nutrients, application can take place in conjunction with top-dressing.

For information on agronomic testing services, sampling procedures and assistance from field services personnel, visit www.ncagr.gov/agronomi/ or call the Agronomic Division at (919) 733-2655.

Morris provides advice on fertilization, nutrient management and nematode problems for growers in Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, Cumberland and Robeson counties. He can be reached by phone at (910) 866-5485 or by e-mail at rick.morris@ncagr.gov.