Today’s Topic: Tissue sampling can help determine wheat’s nitrogen needs

By on March 4, 2014

Southern Farm Network logoAgriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.”

Spring officially starts later this month, which means it’s a good time of year to test wheat for nitrogen. Applying nitrogen at the right time in spring is essential to the growth and development of wheat. Using tissue sampling to find out your wheat crop’s nitrogen needs now will help you to optimize your yield later.

To decide how much spring nitrogen to apply, submit two samples of wheat leaves to the Agronomic Services Division for testing. One sample will be used to measure plant nutrient content, and the other will be used to measure biomass. Both tests are necessary to obtain the most precise recommendation. The fee is $5 per sample for North Carolina residents and $25 per sample for residents of other states.

Tissue sampling should be done when wheat reaches Zadoks growth stage 30. Agronomists expect most wheat in the eastern and piedmont regions of the state to reach this stage in early to mid-March. Applying nitrogen too early could cause tender new growth that would be susceptible to injury during cold snaps. On the other hand, if you wait until after jointing occurs, that increases the chances of damage by application equipment.

In addition to tissue sampling, the department recommends testing biomass samples, too, which is a relatively new part of the nitrogen determination process. The method was developed by Dr. Randy Weisz at N.C. State University.

North Carolina growers wanting more information about determining growth stage 30, or collecting tissue and biomass samples, should contact their regional agronomist, county Cooperative Extension agent or other agricultural adviser.

Click on the audio player below to listen to Commissioner Troxler and Rhonda discuss the importance of tissue sampling wheat in spring.

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