By Darren Hefty

Think about raising wheat like a business produces a product. At every step in the process, the business considers how to make the product work. It also looks at the profitability of each input along the way and analyzes the potential gain. Taking that same approach to your wheat crop is a great way to turn a profit.

It starts with weed control, seed treatment, and fall fertility. I’ll focus on the first two.


  • If you have perennial weeds, now is the best time to get rid of them. Rather than using long-residual products like you would in pasture ground, think cheaper and get a product with virtually no crop rotational restrictions. Roundup is awesome on most perennials and using a strong rate (44 oz./acre of 6# Roundup or more) kills the weeds, root and all. Plus, it’s cheap, which means the return on investment is fantastic. To make it work, don’t do tillage before spraying or shortly after, and make sure you spray at least a couple weeks before the first hard, killing frost.

Residual Herbicides

  • Sharpen at 2 to 3 oz./acre gives excellent residual control on most small-seeded broadleaf weeds. It can also add a lot to a burndown application. However, it is expensive at $9 to $15 per acre. If you have a serious broadleaf problem, though, it’s probably worth it.
  • Pre-Pare at 0.2 to 0.3 oz./acre is a decent burndown product. While it does have some residual on broadleaves, it is better on grasses, including suppression of cheatgrass. For just $3 to $5 per acre, it’s a real value that should be sprayed on any farm concerned about grass control.
  • Olympus is a stronger option for cheatgrass control, but it has far more rotational issues than Pre-Pare. It also may be your favorite post-emerge choice, which would prevent you from using it pre.

Seed Treatment

  • Fungicide doesn’t always pay, but on average it usually provides a good return on investment in most situations. Two modes of action or more often delivers more consistent gains.
  • Insecticide, and higher rates of insecticide, are becoming a popular way to fight wireworms and other key bugs.
  • Natural products can be confusing, and I don’t recommend using just any product on the market. However, there are some good ones with multiple years of data you should consider based on your needs. We use QuickRoots on our farm, for example.

I wouldn’t suggest getting too fancy with your wheat management this fall. Instead, consider the return on investment with each input. Set the table for success by stopping perennial and annual weeds now to save money, improve control, and bump yields. Then, take your only opportunity to provide protection for your seed and seedlings with a seed treatment or seed treatment combination.