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Intensive Management Practices for Wheat in the Southeastern Coastal Plains

Karlen, D. L., Gooden, D. T.
Journal of production agriculture 1990 v.3 no.4 pp. 558
Triticum aestivum, cultivars, crop management, intensive cropping, sandy loam soils, sandy soils, nitrogen fertilizers, fungicides, plant growth substances, crop yield, costs and returns, application rate, Southeastern United States
Wheat (L.) is becoming a more important crop in the southeastern Coastal Plain because it can provide increased midyear cash flow, but at current average yield levels of 35 bu/acre, monocrop wheat shows a net loss of $24 to $59/acre. Six field studies were conducted between 1984 and 1988 on either Dothan sandy loam (fine-loamy, siliceous, thermic Plinthic Paleudult) or Marlboro loamy sand (clayey, kaolinitic, thermic Typic Paleudult) to compare traditional management (TM) and intensive cereal management (ICM) practices for this region. Cultivars, N fertilizer rates, fungicide applications, and use of a growth regulator were evaluated. Cultivar selection, N fertilization rate, and water were the most important factors for both management systems. Application of fungicide reduced the incidence of disease, but selection of a resistant cultivar accomplished the same goal. Applying a growth regulator reduced plant height, but also decreased yield and test weight in several studies. Lodging was not a problem, indicating that plant growth regulators are not needed for sandy, low organic matter soils in the southeastern Coastal Plain. When adequate plant-available water was provided through rainfall or irrigation, applying a total of 120 to 140 lb N/acre in three applications produced grain yields of 100 bu/acre or more. At this level, wheat can be an economically viable crop for Coastal Plain farmers, returning a profit of $125 to $225 per acre after subtracting fixed costs for land, management, and interest. The primary management practices required to achieve higher profit levels are selections of optimum cultivars and prevention of water and N stress.