New research on yield response to wheat leaf architecture

Michigan State University research is looking at the relationship between plant leaf architecture, seeding rates and yield.

Wheat field
Photo by Ricardo Costa, MSU Extension

Based on Michigan State University preliminary research data, using a precision planter can increase yields because of the equipment's ability to better control seed depth and its metering system, especially when planting wheat in narrower rows. With this vital piece of information and the help of his team of graduate students, MSU Extension cropping systems specialist Manni Singh is leading another critical research project looking at the relationship between leaf architecture, seeding rates and crop yield.

According to one of Singh's graduate students, Kalvin Canfield, the research team selected five different wheat varieties based on the plants' leaf architecture. They ranged from more erected (pointed) to droopy leaves, with seeding rates ranging from 400,000 up to 1.5 million plants per acre.

The idea behind using more erected varieties is the possibility of fitting a higher number of plants per acre, which might have a potential for yield increase. Previous research with corn shows that light interception, plant competition and grain yield were affected by leaf orientation and plant population.

There are several questions the research group is trying to answer with this study, such as how does canopy closure happen and how it correlates to light interception. Moreover, how do these varieties respond to narrower rows spacings as well as higher seeding rates?

While answers to the above questions are a few years down the road, you can always take advantage of the yearly released Michigan State Wheat Performance Trials to help you to choose the wheat varieties that will best fit your crop management program.

In summary, always remember to choose two or more varieties to allow spaced out management applications as well as look at the variety's disease resistance and yield potential. Also, when selecting varieties for your fields, choose those that perform well near the location where you will be planting.

You can learn more about Singh's new research on crop yield response to wheat leaf architecture by watching this short video below.

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