Louisiana farmers and other southern growers planted less wheat than last year, but early herbicide applications and disease control can aid producers, according to reports from this month’s Louisiana State University (LSU) annual wheat and oat field day at the Macon Ridge Research Station.

Like in some other southern areas, fertilizer prices kept some farmers from planting wheat. But those with wheat worried that the cold temperatures that hampered northern wheat areas would dip too farm down south. In addition, growers are worrying about weed outbreaks and other problems.

Wheat residue management, says Don Boquet, LSU AgCenter agronomist, shows advantages in keeping wheat stubble on the field rather than burning it off. Residue reduces soil erosion by absorbing energy of raindrop impacts and slowing surface water movement, he says. Other benefits include reducing runoff of plant nutrients, conserving soil water, improving water infiltration, increasing soil organic matter and increasing crop yields.

Boquet says most of the nutrients will remain on the field in the residue after harvest, while 40-80% are lost in burning. The fertilizer value of nutrients in wheat residue is $96/acre, he adds.

Bill Williams, LSU weed scientist, reminds growers that most weeds can be controlled with properly timed herbicide application. Wild onion and garlic are hard to distinguish, Williams says, noting that wild onion has flat, solid stems while garlic is round and hollow.