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Recommendations for Planting Winter Wheat – 2018 (08/30/18)

Given the more favorable spread between winter wheat and spring wheat prices (certainly compared to last year) and the early harvest of many crops to date, planting winter wheat this fall may make sense for many operations.

Recommendations for Planting Winter Wheat – 2018

Given the more favorable spread between winter wheat and spring wheat prices (certainly compared to last year) and the early harvest of many crops to date, planting winter wheat this fall may make sense for many operations. Winter wheat can provide important green cover this fall on early harvested fields. Furthermore, winter wheat can help spread out work and it frequently out-yields spring wheat. The following suggestions are recommended to aid in producing a successful winter wheat crop:

1-      When possible plant winter wheat into standing stubble. Survival of winter wheat during the winter is enhanced when it is covered with snow during the coldest months of the year. Standing crop residues can effectively retain snow. Tall, erect flax and canola stubble works best, but any erect stubble that retains snow is recommended. Planting winter wheat into wheat stubble is not ideal for disease reasons, but as long as disease-insect management is planned, wheat stubble can be an acceptable residue.

 

2-      Plant a winter hardy variety, especially if you are not planting into a standing residue. Ratings for the winter hardiness of currently available varieties are summarized in the Winter Wheat Variety Selection Guide https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/crops/winter-wheat-articles/a-1196-hrww-2017-selection-guide.

Additionally, the results of the 2018 winter wheat variety trials from many of the RECs are now available at https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/varietytrials/winter-wheat/2018-trial-results.

This information can help you select varieties that will likely perform well in your farm. For availability of certified seed refer to the seed guides in North Dakota http://www.nd.gov/seed/field_directory/ and South Dakota.

 

3-      Plant in September: The optimum planting date for the northern half of the state is September 1-15 and for the southern half, September 15-30. In recent years, plantings during the first ten days of October for southern regions of the state have largely been successful. The last practical date that winter wheat can be planted will depend on the weather but there must be enough moisture and growing degree days so that the seed can germinate and the seedling vernalize by spring. Larger seedlings will overwinter better than smaller ones. Target the earlier portion of the recommended planting date range if planting into bare, fallow ground.

 

4-      Plant 1 to 1.5 inches deep: Adequate moisture for establishing winter wheat is often a concern as the soil profile is usually depleted of moisture in the fall. If there is little or no moisture in the soil’s surface, planting shallow (1 to 1.5 inches deep) and waiting for rain is recommended. Furthermore, these relatively shallow planting depths allow for faster emergence when temperatures are rapidly decreasing.

 

5-      Seed about a million seeds per acre: Generally, a seeding rate of 900,000 to 1.2 million viable seed per acre is adequate. The higher seeding rate may be appropriate if planting late or when planting into poor seedbeds. Since winter wheat tends to tiller more profusely than spring wheat, 1.2 million seeds per acre is the upper end of the recommended seeding rate. Excessively high seeding rates can result in more lodging by harvest time, particularly if you are using a taller variety (like Jerry).

 

6-      Break the green bridge. Breaking the green bridge is critical to reducing the risk of infection of the Wheat Streak Mosaic Virus. This disease is vectored by a tiny mite that moves from green tissue to green tissue by wind. Breaking the green bridge is particularly important when winter wheat is planted early. The green bridge is broken by controlling volunteer cereal crops and grassy weeds in a field, two weeks prior to planting winter wheat. A two-week window of not having a ‘green’ host present assures that the mite has gone through its lifecycle and died before finding a host to feed on and transmit the virus.

 

7-      Avoid varieties that are highly susceptible to scab. Scab is not always a problem in winter wheat. Nevertheless, check the recent Selection Guide for the level of scab resistance in currently available varieties. The following rated are rated as the most resistant: Emerson, Lyman, Moats and Redfield.

 

Joel Ransom

Extension Agronomist for Cereal Crops

This site is supported in part by the Crop Protection and Pest Management Program [grant no. 2017-70006-27144/accession 1013592] from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed are those of the website author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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