Wheat maturity varies across much of the South due to the wide range of planting dates seen each fall in the region, but maturity is skipping along and much of the crop will soon be hitting the cut-off stage for herbicides. Some fields are already at that stage.

In a blog, Larry Steckel, University of Tennessee Extension weed specialist, says:

“You really have to squint to see the wheat in some … later planted fields.  A good bit of the Tennessee wheat crop falls into this category.  However, there were some more-timely planted wheat fields last fall and this wheat looks good and is well on its way to getting to the first node.  This maturity stage of wheat is a major cut-off point for many herbicides used in wheat. 

“Herbicides like metribuzin, dicamba, Powerflex and Osprey should not be applied to wheat past the first node stage. Dicamba is a good example of this as applications after the first wheat node can later cause poor wheat head formation.

"Harmony, 2,4-D, MCPA, Finesse and Axial can be applied later than the first wheat node.  Axial, 2,4-D, MCPA and Finesse can be applied to wheat up to the pre-boot stage and Harmony can be applied to wheat up to the flag leaf stage.”

Rome Ethredge, University of Georgia Extension agent in Seminole County, Ga., near the Florida line says:

“Our wheat is at full tiller and entering the jointing stage in some cases. By jointing time we need to have our fertilizer out and most herbicide applications done. Rain has held us out of some fields and this has been a problem that is getting critical. Phenoxy herbicides like MCPA can cause damage to the plant and hurt yields if sprayed on late.”

A local farmer and Ethredge “were checking some of his wheat (Feb. 27) to see what stage it is in and we saw that it will soon be jointing. Herbicides have gone out already in most of his fields, and he will get his final herbicide in this field on in a day or two to prevent injury and possible yield loss. The final sidedress fertilizer has already gone on, and the wheat looks very good with good tillering.  … We want to keep ground equipment out of fields after jointing as well because we get more damage to the plant after this point.”

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