New research in Alabama is taking an initial look at the benefits, or lack thereof, of wheat growth regulators. Some say they work. Some say results vary.

“Wheat growth regulators are nothing new and have been on the market for some time now. They are marketed to producers who apply heavy nitrogen rates to their wheat or to those who have lodging issues. Often times, the two go hand in hand,” says Charlie Burmester, Auburn University Extension agronomist based in north Alabama’s Tennessee Valley.

Wheat growth regulators are touted as giving growers the opportunity to “push their nitrogen limits” without causing severe lodging issues, notes Burmester.

 “Several growers and consultants I have spoken with say they have seen benefits, while others state that results vary from year to year. Like many others, we were interested to see if we could find benefits from using a wheat growth regulator.”

Researchers at the Tennessee Valley Research and Extension Center initiated research this past wheat production season taking a closer look at the growth regulators, he said.

A small study, he explains, was begun in a production wheat field at the TVREC. The field where the study was conducted had an initial 80 units of spring-applied nitrogen. The study consisted of four treatments applied in strips 30 feet wide by 600 feel long. The treatments consisted of: 1) An untreated check with the existing 80 units of nitrogen; 2) Trinexapac-ethyl (Palisade EC) applied at 14 ounces per acre to the existing 80 units of nitrogen; 3) An additional 30 units of nitrogen applied to the existing 80 units of nitrogen for a total of 110 units; and 4) An additional 30 units of nitrogen and 14 ounces per acre of trinexapac-ethyl (Palisade EC) applied separately to the existing 80 units of nitrogen for a total of 110 units.

Treatments were applied on April 9, 2014 at Feekes growth stage 7. Visual observations were taken each week for lodging and height differences.

At harvest, Burmester says researchers will use the combine’s yield monitor to determine wheat yields across the field. This will provide many data point to help determine if wheat yields were affected by any of the treatments.

“This study was initiated later than we would have liked so only a few variables are being tested. It should be noted that this is a preliminary study. We hope to test more variables such as timings and greater nitrogen rates next year.”

Results of the study will be compiled and shared.

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