Winter Cropping – Adding to bottom line growth

Keep growing during Winter

While being very different crops to grow, both wheat and canola pose similar challenges to maximising yield and quality.

Before harvest, wheat plants need to achieve biomass growth focused on the promotion of tillering, stem production, head elongation, sustained flowering, enhanced grain fill, and higher protein content.

In canola, prior to grain fill and oil production, the plant undergoes biomass accumulation through the vegetative stage and into the cabbaging-stage. This needs to occur before branching and flowering in order to produce and sustain pods in the reproductive phase.

By weeks 4 to 6 after sowing, both cereal and canola crop yield is already starting to be influenced.
For both cereals and canola, initial root growth is driven by nutrient absorption from the soil.
In cereals, the extent of secondary root growth determines the plant’s ability to deliver yield and finish grains post-tillering.
In comparison Canola plants achieve maximum biomass during the cabbaging-stage, and following this start to elongate and branch.
Vegetative growth provides the “solar panels” for photosynthesis (leaves).
In turn, this aids the production of energy (in the form of carbohydrates) that the plant requires to combat stress and drive growth.
Environmental stresses occurring from mid May onwards (like water logging, cold weather, lack of sunlight and frosts) slow plant processes and photosynthesis.
Less vegetative growth occurs, less energy is captured, and therefore fewer carbohydrates are produced in the plant. This reduces potential yield.
Supporting plant growth early on is important to delivering final yields.

Minimising the negative effects of the colder months

Over the colder winter months, the biological systems in both the soil and the plant are exposed to the same environmental conditions.
While photosynthesis is occurring above the soil, the living organisms in the soil are working to drive nutrient cycles and utilise carbon, oxygen, nitrogen and root exudates.
Winter stresses slow these biological systems until either the conditions improve or they are fed additional nutrients.

Conditioning the Soil

The ability of your soils to hold and supply nutrients is critical to feeding the biological processes described above, in particular the harnessing of energy to produce carbohydrates.
“Soil conditioning” is the activation of the living component of farm soils.
It occurs structurally and chemically around cation sites, improving water infiltration, which in turn supports improved root depth and the crop’s water use efficiency.
Waiting too long into the season to activate or condition your soil can have negative effects on crop establishment.
Working from soil tests taken before sowing, BioAg consultants recommend the products required (BioAgPhos, lime, gypsum etc) to build long-term improvements in soil condition for both winter and summer crops.
Once the crop is sown and the weather turns cold, the improved soil condition can then support improved plant growth.

Supporting your Crop

During the colder months, the slowing of soil biological processes and other stresses can lead to situations where the soil does not deliver the plants total nutrient requirements.
In these circumstances, consider feeding the biological processes in the soil and/or encouraging foliar uptake of nutrients.
For croppers, once you get to mid tillering in cereals along with 100 mm diameter canola plants, a foliar application of growth nutrients, metabolites and requisite trace elements can support tillering, root system development and build tolerance to environmental stresses.

Example Winter cropping application

Dependent on your particular circumstances, a typical Winter application might include:

  • 1.5-2 l/Ha of Balance & Grow
  • Calcium nitrate or a straight liquid nitrogen product, and
  • Any trace emends that are lacking in the plant.

Our agronomists would tailor a program to suit both the needs of the soil and crop, taking into account the available resources.
When growing cash crops it is important to build a plant that has maximum ability to set and carry fruit (grain) through to harvest.

Why is Balance & Grow successful during Winter?

Balance & Grow provides both the plant and the soil with the appropriate nutrients to stimulate and support the biological systems that deliver growth including:

  • Calcium
  • Phosphate
  • Trace elements
  • A range of enzymes
  • A range of microbial food sources

When applied as a foliar application in conjunction with a nitrogen product (such as UAN or calcium nitrate) the plant has improved access to the nutrients it requires, delivering improved growth and helping to fight stresses that may reduce yield.

Delivering yield

Supporting your crops early growth during the stresses of winter is an important factor in delivering improved yields.
Soil condition plays an important early role, while nutrient supply and sustaining the biological systems in both the plant and soil will improve winter growth and the plants ability to combat stresses.
Improved vegetative growth through winter will set your cereal or canola crop up for improved yields at harvest.
BioAg delivers products and programs that help make the most from any season.