NDSU Extension - Ramsey County


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June 6, 2011 Agriculture Column


The sun, what a wonderful sight.  I hear upper 80’s to low 90’s for the southern part of the state.  That should translate into better working conditions for us.  Now if we can just keep the rains away for another two weeks (asking for a lot).

Seeding Small Grains Really Late   

Nearly half of all the intended small grain acres in ND are yet to be planted; reported planted acres as of May 31 were 44% for barley, 17% for durum, 55% for spring wheat and 52% for oats.  This, coupled with the recent rains that have saturated the soils once again, suggests that any additional small grain planting will not only be late, but will be really late.  One question that I have been asked is what is the yield potential of small grains planted in the latter half of June.  Unfortunately, I could not find any recent field experiments that included these very late planting dates.  However, the general rule of thumb is that there is a 1.5% reduction in wheat, 1.7% reduction in barley, and a 1.2% reduction in oats for every day in delay beyond the optimum planting date.  Data based on reported planting dates and subsequent yields at the farm level in Manitoba suggest yield losses of about 1.3% per day delay, though the optimum planting date is generally later than those in ND (see http://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/crops/cropproduction/pdf/faa22s06.pdf).  Assuming that planting can resume during the 2nd week in June and using a 1.3% yield loss per day delay, estimated yields for small grain crops would be about 55% of the optimum for the northern tier of the state, and only 27% of the optimum in the southern tier of the state.  Planting wheat during the 2nd and 3rd weeks of June is not unheard of in northern ND, especially in the NW region of the state and there is some anecdotal evidence that suggests yields might be even better than those derived by my calculations.  An additional concern when planting small grains in mid to late June in northern ND is the risk of frost before maturity.  Spring wheat planted by the 21st of June would normally be expected to mature by the first week of September, a week or more ahead of the average date for the first frost in that region. 

Before deciding to plant a small grain crop in mid to late June, carefully consider the costs and the potential benefits.  Since yield expectations are likely to be significantly less than when planting at an optimal date, reduce N fertilizer rates accordingly. 



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