Would a heading application of fungicide, insecticide, fertilizer, or a Natural (biological) product increase profitability in your wheat?

This is a question you have to ask yourself each year. With today’s commodity prices, almost anything will pay better than normal, but that still doesn’t mean you should automatically treat.


While I said you shouldn’t automatically treat, of the four options I listed earlier, this is the most automatic of any of them. Fungicide in wheat almost always pays because wheat has a dense canopy that traps moisture. Most wheat varieties aren’t great at naturally tolerating diseases while still achieving maximum yields, and fungicide costs have come down in the last few years.

The two big disease issues we usually talk about at heading in wheat are rust and fusarium head blight, or as we often call it, head scab. If all you need to control is rust, even if it’s the extremely damaging stripe rust, old Folicur (tebuconazole) is great. Plus, the generic version costs less than two bucks. If you are worried about fusarium head blight, then go with Prosaro or Miravis Ace.

The keys with any foliar fungicide are to get great spray coverage and to properly time the application. We like seeing wheat just starting to flower when a fungicide is sprayed. We also prefer nozzles that are angled (maybe even in both directions) so the upright head on the wheat plant gets more thoroughly coated, as opposed to when your spray nozzles are only pointed straight down.


Most insecticides cost less than $2 per acre. If you scout before you spray, you will often find enough harmful insects to justify throwing in two bucks’ worth of insecticide. Take a sweep net and sweep back and forth across your crop. Look inside, and ask for help if you can’t identify any of the bugs you find. Also, be sure to check the pre-harvest interval of the insecticide you choose.


About the only fertilizer we typically see applied at heading is nitrogen, and that’s used to increase protein levels. My number one concern is leaf burn/crop injury. However, many farmers I know have applied 10 gallons of 28% with 10 gallons of water and seen their protein levels jump in years where they have high yield. You could also use feed-grade urea to accomplish the same thing. The reason why yield is important in relation to protein is if yields are high, the wheat plant uses more nitrogen for yield. That leaves less nitrogen for protein, resulting in low protein levels. If you have been applying an appropriate amount of nitrogen to account for high yield earlier in the season, you probably won’t see much increase from a heading application, but if you are worried you will have low protein, this treatment could be worthwhile.

NATURALS (Biologicals)

Here are three things we encourage you to try: Heat Shield, Nutex EDA, and N-Hydro. Heat Shield could help your crop stay cooler (an underrated benefit) and better tolerate drought stress. We like Nutex EDA with any fungicide, as it seems to help with uptake. N-Hydro is our nitrogen-replacement product, and we’ve been working with some farmers who want to use low rates of nitrogen (like 3 pounds of feed grade urea) plus N-Hydro instead of high rates of 28% at heading.