It’s time to start making tiller counts in your wheat fields to determine if you need to split the remaining nitrogen into two applications. If you count more than 80 tillers per square foot, you should be fine applying all of the remaining nitrogen in one topdress application. If you count less than that, you should apply roughly half (30-40lbs) now and apply the rest at the traditional topdress time. This split application will promote tiller growth now and ensure that the optimum amount of tillers is present before jointing. I’ve made several of these counts across the county in the last couple of days and most fields would benefit from splitting the nitrogen applications.
In order to come up with a tiller count, I convert a square foot into linear inches of furrow. On 7.5″ spacing, one square foot is equal to 19 inches on a single drill. Then you can simply count the tillers in that 19 inches of drill to determine the tiller count. For a field, I would make several of these counts randomly in the field and come up with an average. Then make any decisions on splitting nitrogen applications based on the field average.
If you have any questions about making tiller counts in your fields, contact your local extension office for more information.