Syngenta Wheat Production 2022

Crop News
Green wheat in field

By Admore Nyaguze - Syngenta Head of Commercial Sales

Wheat is the most widely cultivated cereal in the world, a staple food for 40 percent of the world’s population that contributes 20 percent of total dietary calories and proteins worldwide (Braun et al., 2010). With that in mind, grain production needs to double (if not triple) to feed a world population that is projected to reach approximately 9 billion by 2050. If there is one central message to consider in tackling food security, wheat is the crop which may be considered right now in our Zambian context. You would agree with me that wheat is at the epicenter of the global food security and at local level. Just to think of it, basically there are four things which can be made from wheat: bread, breakfast cereals, cakes and biscuits. What is extremely important in our everyday lives. I am sure you would agree with me again, when I say it is highly unlikely for one of you to go through the day without consuming one of the items mentioned earlier.

As farmers ponder on their next crop after a successful rain season, Syngenta comes in to offer integrated solutions in wheat for the farmers to maximize their yield and profits.  In light of this, Syngenta has a strong high yielding wheat portfolio to offer growers. To give you some background, Syngenta is the leading global powerhouse in agricultural science, in particular crop protection and seeds.  

Back to our wheat production, we have received some good rainfall in our wheat growing areas this season, very significant compared to the recent past 3-4 years, which saw suboptimal wheat production levels. With that, I see farmers highly motivated to increase the hectarage on their farms as most dams have had some significant level increases. Farmers are looking at wheat as a premium crop to maximize the profits. It is therefore crucial to share some wheat production fundamentals for profitable farming.

Seed quality

Quality certified seed is essentially the basis for establishing a productive stand. In other words, utilizing good quality certified wheat seed for planting is the foundation for obtaining excellent germination and stand establishment. In addition, certified seed is the grower’s best assurance of buying excellent quality seed. With environmental conditions being so unpredictable and variable, farmers need to ensure proper variety selection to make the difference in profitability, so this deserves careful and detailed attention each year. Obviously, the primary objective is to choose the varieties that will give the grower high per hectare (per-ha) yields and the maximum possible revenue, but this comes with attention to detail and not an easy exercise. It is important to take into consideration these characteristics when choosing a variety. Please note: wheat seed being open pollinated, on farm saved seed can be very compromised with off-types and diseased seed and yield can be compromised.

Land preparation

The objective of land preparation is to create the right ideal soil conditions which will enhance the establishment of the crop.  The right farm equipment becomes crucial, farmers need a firm seedbed, which promotes good seed to soil contact and results in uniform and easy germination and stand establishment, at the lowest possible cost. In addition, it is crucial at this stage to manage the residue on the ground, with more residues remaining on the soil surface, foliar diseases, such as Septoria leaf blotch can be a challenge. At the time of planting, calibrate planters to ensure the correct seeding density, fertilizer application and planting depth for seed germination.

Irrigation management

Irrigation management strategies for full yield potential and quality need to incorporate scheduling of irrigation application to maintain soil water above depletion levels. Stage of growth irrigation applications can be used to obtain maximum yield potential but can be wasteful of water resources if water level status of soil profile is ignored. In order to optimize yield and quality the grower needs greater understanding of irrigation timing. There is an interesting old saying “Muddy boots are the best measure for irrigation scheduling”

Fertilizer management

Fertilizer is an important production element that drives productivity. Essentially, growers need right levels of nutrients at each stage of development for maximum economic yields of wheat. In general, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are the primary nutrient needs. It is vital to make sure that adequate amounts of the secondary and micronutrients are considered in the fertilizer program. It is highly recommended to manage your fertilizer program with your local fertilizer agronomist. In conjunction with the fertilizer agronomist a soil test for available nutrients is very helpful in evaluating the amount of residual nutrients. Therefore, a reliable soil analysis data is essential for planning an effective fertilization programme for the wheat.  The soil test measures the quantity of nutrients in the soil at the time the sample is collected and based on the results from this profile test an interpretation is made to adjust nutrients recommendation based on soil status and the targeted yield.  As an additional tip, ensure you do not apply lime if you are following Atrazine application in your previous crop.

Weed management

Weeds can significantly reduce wheat yields and profits by competing with the crop for water, light, root space, and nutrients. In addition, they can damage the wheat by producing toxic substances or act as hosts for disease. Weeds also interfere with harvest and result in compromised quality of grain, which adds to the total economic impact of weeds in wheat. To give an illustration, yield losses and harvest problems caused by weeds vary depending on the weed species, weed population, time of weed emergence, growing conditions, and status of the wheat crop. Importantly, wheat is sensitive, in fact very sensitive to early weed competition. A healthy wheat crop that has a head start on weeds is very competitive and will suppress weed growth and interference, therefore a weed management program with innovative herbicide solution is recommend.

Herbicides, if used properly, are a safe and effective option for control of certain weeds in wheat. Crucial factors to take into consideration when choosing a herbicide include: 1) weed species spectrum, 2) stage of crop and weed development, 3) herbicide persistence and re-cropping restrictions, 4) and risk of off-site movement for non-target contamination.

We always encourage farmers to have sound knowledge of weed problems in the field, a good knowledge on weed ecology at the farm and proper weed identification are necessary tools when choosing a herbicide programme. Most herbicides selectively control certain weed species as listed on the label and as such weeds not listed on the label probably will not be controlled. Contact Syngenta team to get the best and reputable guide on a sound innovative herbicide program.

Additionally, herbicides should only be applied at the stages of application recommended on the label in order to achieve the optimum results. The crop must be at the right stage of growth to avoid crop injury in other words application too early or late may result in stunting and wheat yield reductions. We also urge farmers to calibrate the spraying equipment before the application of the solution. You need a calibrated sprayer, correct pressure, correct nozzles, clean water, the actual spraying technique and the right herbicide solution. Syngenta Gramoxone® and Touchdown Forte® are used as pre-plant weed burn down so that the farmer has got seedbed free from weeds before planting. We excited to launch our new post emergence herbicide Casper® 55 WG, it is a double mode of action post emergence herbicide ( broad leaf weeds) which is specialized to control a broad range of annual weeds in cereals and corn. In addition, selective herbicides for example Axial®, Dialen Super® and Traxos® are innovative post emergence solution options for the crop. Adama Bromoxynil P 500SC (selective post-emergence for certain broad leaf weeds control) will be available this winter.

Disease management

Frequent field scouting is highly recommended for monitoring crop development and identifying problems in the early stages before they become severe. The right diagnostic tools for correct diagnosis  are crucially important because control measures are different for the different diseases. Foliar fungicides are disease management tools that can be used and seed treatments are excellent for control of seedborne diseases. Other than chemical methods, firstly, crop rotation is a “best management practice” because it reduces the carryover of diseases, insects, and weeds between crops and secondly maintaining balanced fertility may reduce some diseases. Syngenta’s portfolio Elatus ™Arc, Amistar Extra®, Cherokee®, Artea ® and Thiovit Jet® for disease control and excellent yield results help protect the farmers investment. By following the Syngenta portfolio the farmers can get some consistent crop performance and higher return on investment (ROI).

Insect management

Again, frequent field scouting is important for monitoring insects and identifying problems in the early stages before they become severe. Syngenta have an excellent insecticide range in wheat, we have Ampligo®, Karate Zeon® and Denim Fit®.

Plant Growth Regulators (PGRs)

PGRs are an important tool to have, they reduce plant height and increase stem thickness. This reduces the incidence of lodging. Additionally, the PGRs reduce the harvest losses as a result of lodging. PGRs application timing is crucially important for good results. It is important to follow the label instructions so that the farmers apply the product according to its labeled window of application. Syngenta’s solution Moddus® growth regulator has a wider window of application than most growth regulators. It is very safe and has no yield reduction for wrong timing.  It also reduces water requirement as it increases root mass.

Wishing you a productive and rewarding wheat season with Syngenta solutions.

Always follow label instructions concerning product application and always use personal protection equipment when using any pesticide.

Admore Nyaguze

Syngenta Head of Commercial Sales

Mobile: +260967982012