Wheat Planting Management Considerations for Fall 2023

This year, wheat yields were extremely high across Ohio. In the Ohio Wheat Performance Test (https://ohiocroptest.cfaes.osu.edu/wheattrials/default.asp?year=2023), grain yield averaged between 86 and 126 bu/acre across five Ohio counties. Cool temperatures and adequate subsoil moisture led to a long grain fill period. The long grain fill period coupled with low disease resulted in high-yielding conditions. Mother nature certainly helped us out in 2023; however, fall wheat management is important to set your crop up for success.

Now that we’ve entered mid-September, wheat planting is just around the corner. Here are our key management strategies for this fall:

  1. Plant within the 10-day period starting after the county fly-safe date. It can be tempting to plant wheat before your county’s Hessian fly-safe date (Figure ; however, the best time to plant wheat is the 10-day period starting the day after the fly-safe date. Planting before the fly-safe date increases the risk of insect and disease problems including Hessian fly and aphids carrying Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus. Our wheat planting date field trials have shown no yield benefit of planting prior to the county fly-safe date.
  2. 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.
  3. Optimum seeding rates are between 1.2 and 1.6 million seeds/acre. For drills with 7.5-inch row spacing, this is about 18 to 24 seeds per foot of row. When wheat is planted on time, the actual seeding rate has little effect on yield, but high seeding rates (above 30 seeds per foot of row) increase lodging and risk of severe powdery mildew development next spring.
  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 seeded 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 winter survival due to heaving and freezing injuries. Remember, you cannot compensate for a poor planting job by planting more seeds; it just costs more money.
  5. Follow the Tri-State Fertilizer Recommendations for Corn, Soybeans, Wheat, and Alfalfa (https://agcrops.osu.edu/FertilityResources/tri-state_info).
  6. Apply 20 to 30 lb of actual nitrogen per acre at planting to promote fall tiller development. A soil test should be completed to determine phosphorus and potassium needs. Wheat requires more phosphorus than corn or soybean, and soil test levels should be maintained between 30-50 ppm (Mehlich-3 P) for optimum production (Table 1). Do not add phosphorus if soil test levels exceed 50 ppm.

Table 1. Wheat phosphorus recommendations from the Tri-State Fertilizer Recommendations for Corn, Soybeans, Wheat, and Alfalfa.

Table 1. Wheat phosphorus recommendations from the Tri-State Fertilizer Recommendations for Corn, Soybeans, Wheat, and Alfalfa.

Soil potassium should be maintained at levels of 100-130 and 120-170 ppm (Mehlich-3 K) on sandy soils (CEC < 5 meq/100 g) and loam/clay soils (CEC > 6 meq/100 g), respectively. If potassium levels are low, apply K2O fertilizer at planting, depending on soil CEC and yield potential (Table 2).

Table 2. Wheat potassium recommendations from the Tri-State Fertilizer Recommendations for Corn, Soybeans, Wheat, and Alfalfa.

Table 2. Wheat potassium recommendations from the Tri-State Fertilizer Recommendations for Corn, Soybeans, Wheat, and Alfalfa.

Soil pH should be between 6.3 and 7.0. In Ohio, limed soils usually have adequate calcium and magnesium.

Field Observations Thru May 26


Most of our first cutting is complete.  If you have not mowed yet continue to monitor for alfalfa weevil.  As regrowth starts begin to monitor for potato leafhopper.


What a difference a week makes.  Most of our corn is now planted and about 50% has emerged.


Soil Crusting

Soil crusting is still an issue.  Continue to scout for emergence problems.  A few fields saw a return of the rotary hoe to help break the crust and aid in crop emergence.


Like corn, bean planting is coming to an end.  Soil crusting is also an issue in many of our bean fields. Continue to scout these fields for emergence problems.  Read more here.


Slug damage was a problem early in a few fields.  The forecasted warm and dry weather should help to eliminate this problem.



Scout for disease and insects:

Cereal Leaf Beetle Scouting Information

Powdery Mildew Scouting information

Head Scab Scouting Information

Most of our wheat is nearing a time when a decision must be made.  All of the wheat fields that I have looked at are showing no signs of disease pressure.  Here are some factors to consider

  1. No existing disease pressure
  2. The head scab forecast system is showing a very low chance of scab
  3. Fungicide cost can range from $12 – $18/acre plus application charges
  4. New crop wheat price is hovering around $6.20/bushel
  5. The 6 – 10 day precipitation outlook is for below normal rainfall and mild temperatures.


If You Planted and Heavy Rainfall Affected Your Fields…

Source: Osler Ortez, Laura Lindsey, OSU Extension

According to the USDA-NASS report for the week ending 05/14/23, 26% of Ohio’s corn and 28% of Ohio’s soybean acres were planted. About 8% of corn and soybean was reported emerged.

Heavy rainfall (1-2 inches of rain) events were reported for some areas of Ohio last week. Heavy rainfall can negatively affect planted and emerged fieldsplanted and non-emerged fields, and yet-to-be-planted fields. If you are in one of the areas with concerns about heavy rainfall, below is a summary of topics that one should consider (Table 1).

Table 1. Topics, considerations, and takeaways for corn and soybean fields are affected by heavy rainfall this season.

The bottom line is that seed damage due to abiotic factors can affect seedling vigor, plant growth, and crop establishment, ultimately reducing crop stands and yields. We recommend weighing the above considerations if you are affected by heavy rainfall this crop season.

Field Observations Thru May 12

Throughout the growing season I will post information on different pests or issues I am seeing in our fields in Knox County.  This week Mother Nature is finally cooperating, a little, and we are starting to make some planting progress.  Below are a some to observations to keep an eye on.


Continue to scout fields for Alfalfa Weevil.

Click here for Alfalfa Weevil Scouting Guide




Finally, we are planting!  While conditions are not perfect, we are able to get some seeds in the ground!

Most of our early planted corn has sprouted, some has finally begun to emerge.  As you evaluate your plant stand, do not be too concerned, yet – it is still early!

Click here to read the following post from OSU Agronomists Osler Ortez, Laura Lindsey, Alexander Lindsey


Same story as corn.  Early planted soybeans are beginning to emerge. As you evaluate your plant stand, do not be too concerned, yet – it is still early!

Click here to read the following post from OSU Agronomists Osler Ortez, Laura Lindsey, Alexander Lindsey


Trapped heads in Wheat.  While rare, I have seen this before. It looks like the heads are trapped in the boot.  This is usually a weather related issue.

Under warm conditions, the heads are pushed out of the leaf sheath quickly, but when it’s cold/cool, the process is slower, causing the heads to get trapped.  This is particularly problematic on awned varieties.  This issue could cause some constriction and affect grain full at the tips of the head, but usually not a major cause for concern.  

Click here for more information

We are still very early, but if crop stands are a concern…

Source: Osler Ortez, Laura Lindsey, Alexander Lindsey

We are still early, but if you planted in April or the first few days of May, soil conditions have been wet and cold in many parts of the state. Early plantings, cold air/soil temperatures, and precipitation cause slow progress in corn and soybean.  Corn and soybean plants slowly emerge from the ground under wet soil conditions.

One of the downsides of planting early is the risk of seeds sitting too long in the field. Seed damage (biotic or abiotic) can lead to reduced stands in planted fields. Factors to consider are imbibitional chilling, frost damage, seed treatment duration/viability, insect/disease damage, soil crusting, and standing water. These factors (or combinations) can negatively affect seedling vigor, plant growth, crop establishment, ultimately reducing crop stands. If reduced stands are a concern, a potential solution is to replant fieldsHowever, we are still early to make accurate assessments of crop stands.

Our 101 recommendation now is to wait… Crop stands should be assessed after ‘stable’ and ‘better’ conditions are achieved (e.g., warmer temperatures, adequate soil moisture conditions):

  • For corn, past work has shown that 50% emergence can be expected following accumulation of 150 soil GDDs (base of 50°F) from planting, about 5-7 days under normal conditions (much longer under cold/wet as areas of Ohio have been).
  • For soybean, assess the stands no earlier than the VC growth stage. Visual stand assessment at the VE growth stage often underestimates the number of plants that will emerge.

Figure 2.

Often, hasty decisions are not the best. When replanting decisions on early planted acres are made, one should be careful about getting more plants than necessary in the field. In the following picture (Figure 2), the first set of soybeans was planted early and took a long time to emerge from the ground. So, a replanting decision was made (replanted at an angle). Once the weather conditions turned better, the first planting and replanting came up, in which case the replant was unnecessary. We suggest caution when replanting decisions are made.

How Deep Should Corn Be Planted?

Source: Dan Quinn, Ph.D., Purdue University

During the heat of planting, one thing that often can be forgotten is thoroughly checking and understanding two items, 1) what seed depth am I planting at? and 2) is my seeding depth consistent, especially across all of my individual row units? We may often be inclined to use the “set it and forget it” approach to seed depth, yet this may not always be the best idea. In order to get corn started off on the right foot, it is important to achieve both rapid and consistent emergence following planting. One aspect of achieving rapid and consistent plant emergence is by choosing the correct seeding depth and ensuring there is adequate and uniform moisture at the chosen seeding depth. The most common seeding depths recommended for corn range between 1.5 and 2 inches deep, and these planting depths can work very well within most conditions, however, certain soil moisture conditions at planting may warrant further examination/change in seeding depth.

A corn seed imbibes soil moisture within the first 24 – 48 hours after planting, therefore maintaining both adequate and uniform moisture at seeding depth (not too wet and not too dry) within the first 48 hours is important. If the soil remains too dry, then the seed may be delayed in emergence until precipitation occurs. Furthermore, if the soil remains saturated after planting, the seed may rot and die. If the soil conditions are dry at planting, then a seeding depth of 2 inches may be too shallow and not place the seed in adequate/uniform soil moisture conditions. Therefore, if the moisture at a 3-inch depth is more adequate and uniform, and no additional rainfall is expected in the next week, then it may be worthwhile planting the seed at a 3-inch depth instead of a 2-inch depth. It is important to remember that corn can physically emerge at seeding depths lower than 2-inches, therefore, planting deeper can help ensure more consistent plant emergence when soil moisture conditions are dry. However, if soil moisture conditions are adequate it is likely ideal to not go much deeper than 2 – 2.25 inches. If planted too deep and soil moisture conditions are adequate, emergence can become delayed, thus further exposing the corn seed to various stresses (e.g., disease, insects, etc.). Furthermore, if corn is planted too shallow <1.5 inches, you can run the risk of poor root development, stand establishment, and lodging.

To further examine the impact of seeding depth on corn emergence and yield, a research trial was established at the Throckmorton Purdue Agricultural Center in Lafayette, IN. The research trial examined corn seedling emergence timing and yield differences across four different seeding depths and two different hybrids. The trial was designed as a randomized complete block design with three replications. Plots measured 30 feet wide (12, 30-inch corn rows) by 400 feet long and the center six rows were harvested with a commercial combine with a calibrated yield monitor. Trial results are presented below:

Results: Continue reading

Soybean Planter Considerations

Click on the video below to watch Dr. John Fulton discuss soybean planter considerations and recommendations to meet a variety of field conditions we may face this spring.  Dr. Fulton specifically talks about:

  1. Downforce pressure for consistent seed depth
  2. Adjustments due to soil variability
  3. Row-unit settings
  4. Comments on speed tubes

Double Crop Soybean Management Considerations


Wheat harvest is just around the corner, and it’s time to consider double-crop soybean production management. For double-crop soybean to be successful, you need adequate time and moisture for the production of the soybean crop. In southern Ohio, double-crop soybean after wheat harvest is common. In central and northern Ohio, double-crop soybean after winter wheat depends on the wheat harvest date and soybean prices. With high soybean prices, we anticipate interest in double-crop soybean production in central and northern Ohio this year.

Double-crop soybean management considerations.

  1. Soybean relative maturity. Relative maturity (RM) has little effect on yield when soybeans are planted during the first three weeks of May. However, the effect of RM can be larger for late plantings. When planting soybean late, the latest maturing variety that will reach physiological maturity before the first killing frost is recommended. This is to allow the soybean plants to grow vegetatively as long as possible to produce nodes where pods can form before vegetative growth is slowed due to flowering and pod formation.

Table 1. Recommended relative maturity (RM) ranges for soybean varieties planted in June and July in northern, central, and southern Ohio.

  1. Row spacing. Double-crop soybeans should be produced in narrow rows- 7.5 or 15-inch row spacing. The later soybeans are planted, the greater the yield increase due to narrow rows. Soybeans grown in narrow rows produce more grain because they capture more sunlight energy, which drives photosynthesis.
  1. Seeding rate. The soybean plant population at harvest for mid-to-late June plantings should be between 130,000-150,000 plants/acre. The harvest population for early July plantings should be greater than 180,000 plants/acre. Harvest population is a function of seeding rate, quality of the planter operation, and seed germination percentage and depends on such things as soil moisture condition, seed-soil contact, and disease pressure.

Evaluating the Prevent Plant Option

By: Eric Richer & Chris Bruynis, OSU Extension Educators

Planting progress goes differently every year and in each part of the state. This year is no different in Ohio. Some places got in early and are finished. Others had their ‘normal’ planting progress with ‘normal’ Mother Nature breaks, perhaps with some re-plant needed. And still others have not had ideal conditions all spring to plant.  As such, we have received some recent calls regarding the mechanics and economics of utilizing the Prevent Plant through crop insurance this year in certain parts of the state. First and foremost, we are not crop insurance agents, so speaking with your agent is of utmost importance. In this article, we will walk through an example on the economics of electing Prevent Plant.

In Ohio, once you arrive at the final plant date of June 5 for corn (already passed) and June 20 for soybeans, you basically have 3 options in a corn scenario: Continue reading