Increased wheat yields with Trace Minerals

Have you ever seen 90-kernel wheat heads? They are pretty impressive!

For several years, we have been working with a farm near Great Falls, Montana. They are a large, diversified operation, but they grow a lot of wheat, with 2000 acres under irrigation and 3-5000 acres dry-farmed.

They have been growing wheat for over 30 years, and with their standard fertility program, they were consistently harvesting an average of 80-85 bushels/acre, irrigated (35-40 kernels per head).

In the 2014 crop, based on our recommendations, they added a critical trace mineral package from their local co-op and applied our seed treatment products to enhance the soil biology and provide additional trace minerals during the critical germination and emergence periods. During the growing season, they applied our compost mineral tea to further improve their soil biology and add additional trace minerals to their irrigated fields. They brew the tea on site and inject it into the pivots at a rate of 10 gallons/acre, four-five times per year. Their total incremental cost for the new treatments was approximately $60/acre ($40/acre was the co-op trace minerals) on their irrigated fields.

The results were immediate, and impressive. Their irrigated yield in 2014 was up by 50 percent! Their wheat heads were longer and fuller, averaging around 60 kernels. The harvested yield was about 120 bushels/acre! That is a 40 bushel/acre increase! Even at the lower wheat prices, that is an extra $200/acre with only a $60/acre investment.

A secondary advantage is the higher protein rating. With the addition of the trace minerals and improved soil biology, their high-yield wheat was testing at 14-15 percent protein, qualifying it for the high-protein premiums which can only add to the bottom line profit potential of their crop.

In 2015, they continued the program, hoping for additional gains. However, 2015 was a contrary year for wheat in the Great Falls area with some frost damage and other weather-related factors. In spite of a difficult year, yields are holding steady with last year at around 120 bushels/acre and they maintained their higher protein content. Even more surprising though is the rate of elongation in the wheat heads. They may not all be 90+ kernels/head, but they are certainly finding a lot more of them than previously!

The gains are not just in the irrigated fields. They have been using the same program on their dry fields though generally without the compost mineral tea. All seed is treated with the biology and minerals, and some fields get some compost mineral tea at planting and perhaps a foliar application once or twice through the growing season, but sometimes just the planting treatment. Even in the dry fields, they are seeing common yield increases of 10 bushels/acre, though some fields were as high as 20. With lower yields on dry fields, they need fewer inputs, so they only used about ½ of the trace minerals. Without the extra mineral tea applications and with the reduced trace mineral costs, their cost/acre is $28-30, so at 10 bushels/acre they are still making an extra $20. Plus, the harvest is still higher in protein, so the pricing bonus increases their return.

Would you like to see similar increases in your yields? Call us today and we’ll teach you how!

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