For many row crop farmers, winter wheat is an essential part of the crop rotation. Winter wheat not only helps limit erosion by providing ground cover during a time when fields might otherwise be bare, but it also provides another option in the rotation and, in some areas, opportunities to run two crops in the same year with a double-crop rotation.
Winter wheat is generally planted in the fall and harvested early the following summer. These varieties are different from spring wheat because they have to undergo vernalization. Vernalization is a process in which a plant has to go through a period of low temperatures to transition to the reproductive growth stage.
5 Tips for Growing Winter Wheat:
Variety selection: Choosing the right seed for your farm is always a primary consideration. There are a variety of diseases that wheat can be susceptible to—head scab, barley yellow dwarf, soil-borne mosaic, etc.—so choosing a variety that is resistant to the diseases common in your area is essential to protecting your yield potential.
Planting into stubble: When possible, plant into the previous crop’s stubble. Stubble left in the field holds on to snow, which protects the young wheat in colder weather. The exception is wheat stubble, which can hold onto disease and pests from the previous wheat crop. If you cannot plant into stubble, consider choosing a variety with higher winterhardiness scores. The seed company assigns these.
Seeding depth: Aim for an optimal seeding depth between 1 and 1.5 inches with good seed-to-soil contact. The winter freeze and thaw cycle can potentially lead to heaving, so correct planting depth is essential. Shallower planting depth can potentially lead to winterkill issues, and any deeper can delay emergence. If lack of soil moisture is a concern, consider planting at 2 inches.
Planting date and seeding rate: The best practices of winter wheat planting date and seeding rate vary broadly depending on your region. For planting date, the critical factor is planting at a time after which the wheat will have time to vernalize. Contact your local university and or extension experts for planting date and seeding rate tips.
Nutrition: Nitrogen (N) is essential in wheat for tillering, grain fill and other vital factors. A starter fertilizer with phosphorus and N can get seedlings off to a strong start with an additional application after greenup between stem elongation and early boot. Some experts suggest applications at stem elongation and early boot to make the applications more efficient. It’s easy for N to get lost if all applied at once.
Get Higher Wheat Yields with Commence®
Commence® seed treatment can help release more nutrients in the rootzone for greater wheat yields. Commence encourages:
Improved plant vigor and stress tolerance
Greater root structure
Farmers can use Commence in conjunction with other seed treatments.