As Australia predominantly cultivates wheat as its major winter crop. Thus for farmers, it is necessary to know about the essentials for a successful wheat crop.
The planting process starts in autumn, and the harvest happens in spring and summer, depending on the current seasonal conditions. The biggest wheat-producing states are Western Australia, New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria, and Queensland.
What do Farmers do to Look After Their Wheat Crop?
Let’s discuss the basic good conditions that help farmers to grow wheat successfully.
Weed Management: Do’s to Control Weed in Wheat Crop
The use of herbicides as a weed control method is not sustainable due to the possibility of herbicide resistance emerging.
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The sharp edge of the K4 Disc uproots weeds from the ground, turning them over and exposing them on the surface to die. This farm implement works fast and shallow and is soft on soils.
- Plant pure seeds in tidy fields with clear boundaries.
- Use the strength of crops to fight against weeds. By providing the crops with the proper environment to grow well, such as healthy soil, enough water, and essential nutrients, they can.
- Practice crop rotation
- At the time of harvest try to capture the weed seeds.
Canola- Based Rotation
Incorporating canola into crop rotations serves as a valuable strategy to interrupt disease progression in the upcoming wheat crop. Moreover, this method provides ways to control weeds efficiently.
Canola has broad leaves that spread out and cover the ground effectively. This dense coverage shades the soil, making it harder for weed seeds to find the sunlight they need to grow. I
This crop releases certain chemicals into the soil that make it harder for weed seeds to sprout and grow.
It grows pretty fast, so it competes with weeds for water, nutrients, and sunlight. Since canola is better at this competition, it leaves less room for the weeds to grow strong and take over the field.
It offers the best way to control weeds naturally in wheat crops. Legumes team up with tiny bacteria to gather nitrogen from the air, which they then put into the soil.
This extra nitrogen gives them an edge in growing faster and stronger than weeds. Additionally, because legumes grow low to the ground and provide good soil coverage, they form a sort of “living carpet” that blocks sunlight. This shading effect makes it tough for weeds to start growing and thriving.
Nitrogen acts as a type of food that helps wheat crops to be healthy. Usually, plants get this nitrogen food from the soil. However, legumes can do something really amazing. They have a special teamwork with bacteria. These bacteria live in the roots of the legumes.
They are like tiny factories that make nitrogen. These bacteria grab nitrogen from the air, which is everywhere around us, and change it into a kind of food that wheat plants can use to grow. It’s almost like they’re changing air into yummy food for the plants!
Continuous wheat rotations are not recommended on sandy soils
Planting wheat over and over again without switching to different crops is not a good practice on sandy soils.
These soils lack essential nutrients, and wheat’s repeated planting depletes them further. Since sandy soils can’t hold onto nutrients well, this can lead to poor wheat growth. To maintain soil health and nutrient balance, it’s better to alternate crops and avoid continuous wheat rotations in these soil types.
Soil pH is a way to measure if the soil is more acidic or more alkaline. It matters a lot for crops like wheat because it decides how easily plants can use the nutrients in the soil.
To check soil pH, it’s smart to take samples from three different depths: the very top layer, about 10-20cm beneath, and even deeper at 20-30cm. This should be done every 3-4 years.
Remember, there are two goals for pH. The top layer, or topsoil, should have a pH of 5.5 or more. The deeper layers, known as subsurface soil, should be at 4.8.
If the pH goes lower than these goals, it suggests the soil could be getting too acidic. To correct this, you can use a substance called lime. Lime helps reduce the acidity of the soil and raises the pH back to the proper range.
- Identify the paddocks to be sampled.
- Take soil samples at 0-10cm depth. This represents the typical depth at which wheat roots tend to extend.
- Target deeper soil sampling. Sandy soils don’t hold onto nutrients as well as other types of soil Therefore, it is important to conduct deeper sampling in order to acquire a precise understanding of the soil’s nutrient content.
- For analysis send the soil samples to a laboratory. The lab will examine the soil to identify the presence of different nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, and micronutrients.
Here is an explanation of how the nutrient status of paddocks can influence the growth of wheat crops.
- Potassium: When there’s not enough potassium, leaves turn yellow, grains don’t fill out well, and plants get sicker from pests and diseases more easily.
- Sulfur: It helps with how the plant uses nitrogen, makes enzymes work, builds proteins, and creates oils. If there’s not enough sulfur, the wheat plants might not grow well or produce as much.
- Nitrogen: Nitrogen is like plant food that winter wheat really needs. It helps the wheat plant make more branches and leaves, which is called tillering. This makes the plant able to take in more sunlight and make more food. It also helps the plant build protein in its grains, which is important for making good wheat.
- Phosphorous: Phosphorus is like an early boost for wheat growth. If there’s not enough, the wheat will not give much harvest. Having enough phosphorus helps the roots and baby plants grow strong in the beginning.
Depth of Sowing
When putting wheat seeds into the soil, the depth you sow them really matters for how well they grow. If you plant the seeds too far down, they’ll take longer to sprout and come up through the soil.
Sometimes, they might not even manage to come up at all. But if you plant them too close to the surface, the chemicals used to control weeds could harm them. The first little shoot that comes out of the seed is called a coleoptile, and its length helps decide how deep to plant the seeds.
If the type of wheat you’re planting has a shorter coleoptile, you’ve got to be careful not to bury the seeds too deep, because then the young plants might have trouble pushing through the soil.
The recommended sowing depth for wheat ranges from 25mm to 50mm. This depth ensures optimal conditions for wheat seeds to germinate effectively and fostering proper growth.
But remember, the right depth to plant the wheat seeds can change depending on factors like the type of soil, the weather, and the wheat variety you’re growing.
Rate of Seed
To make sure the ground is completely covered by plants and to get the optimum yield, you should plant around 150 to 200 plants in every square meter of land.
In places where it doesn’t rain much (up to 400mm of rain each year), you’ll need about 60kg of seeds for each hectare of land. In areas with more rain, you’ll need about 80 to 90kg of seeds for each hectare.
To grow a successful wheat crop and ensure enough food for all, it’s vital to choose the right wheat type, prepare the soil well, protect plants and weeds, and do time tasks correctly. Smart practices make a healthy wheat harvest possible.