Closing Time: Optimal Wheat Seeding Window Nears Completion

By Clint Schroeder OSU Extension

There are several reasons that producers might be taking a second look at bringing wheat back into their rotation or increasing acres in the fall of 2020. Between conservation program incentives and recent grain market action there is reason to believe that this crop could once again be financially competitive in Northwest Ohio. Here are a few key factors to keep in mind as we near the end of the ideal fall seeding period.

1.) Select high-yielding varieties with high test weight, good straw strength, and adequate disease resistance. Do not jeopardize your investment by planting anything but the best yielding varieties that also have resistance to the important diseases in your area. Depending on your area of the state, you may need good resistance to powdery mildew, Stagonospora leaf blotch, and/or leaf rust. Avoid varieties with susceptibility to Fusarium head scab. Plant seed that has been properly cleaned to remove shriveled kernels and treated with a fungicide seed treatment to control seed-borne diseases. The 2020 Ohio Wheat Performance Test results can be found at:

2.) Plant after the Hessian Fly Safe Date for your county. This date varies between September 22 for northern counties and October 5 for southern-most counties. Planting before the Fly Safe Date, increases the risk of insect and diseases problems including Hessian Fly and aphids carrying Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus. The best time to plant is within 10 days after the Fly Safe Date (click here for fly safe map). Fall wheat growth is reduced when planting is delayed resulting in reduced winter hardiness. More info on Hessian Fly-free date can be found here.

3.) When wheat is planted more than 10-days after the fly-free-safe date, there is an increased chance of reduced fall growth and reduced winter hardiness. This figure from the Ohio Agronomy Guide illustrates the yield response if planting rate is not adjusted for later seedings. Growers should plant at a higher seeding rate than the regularly recommended rate of 1.2 to 1.6 million seeds per acre for 7.5-inch rows (that is about 18 to 24 seeds per foot of row with normal sized seed) to compensate for fewer tiller development. Seedings that take place more than 2 weeks after the fly-free date should increase the planting population by 200,000 seeds per acre for each week they are delayed. For example: wheat seeded 15-21 days after fly free date should be seeded at 1.4 to 1.8 million seeds per acre. Wheat seeded 22-28 days after fly free date should be seeded at 1.6 to 2 million seeds per acre.

4.) Planting depth is critical for tiller development and winter survival. Plant seed 1.5 inches deep and make sure planting depth is uniform across the field. No-till wheat into soybean stubble is ideal, but make sure the soybean residue is uniformly spread over the surface of the ground. Shallow planting is the main cause of low tiller numbers and poor over-winter survival due to heaving and freezing injury.

As always, the key to a successful crop is adequate and timely management.

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