Sunday, May 29, 2011


We finally get some good wheat growing conditions so the heads can fill properly and we get three days of heat that could limit it's fill. It's been a really tough year for growing wheat or anything in Ohio.

"Five Important Management Steps to Profitable Wheat Production in Ohio
The 2010/2011 winter wheat season is fast approaching its end and as growers make preparations for harvesting, we would like to remind them of a few management decisions that are important for a successful crop. Nearly every farm in Ohio has a field or two that could benefit from planting wheat, if for no other reason than to help reduce problems associated with continuous planting of soybeans and corn. Consistent high yields can be achieved by following a few important management guidelines. Below are listed the most important management decisions that Ohio wheat producers need to make at fall planting time to produce a crop with satisfactory economic returns.

ONE. 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 2010 Ohio Wheat performance trial results can be found at (

TWO. Plant after the Hessian Fly Safe date for your county. This date varies between September 22 for northern counties and October 5 for the southern-most counties. Planting within the first 10 days after this date minimizes the risk of serious insect and disease problems including Hessian Fly, aphids carrying Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus, and several foliar diseases. Planting before this date has lowered yield by 7 to 20% in research trials due to disease and insect problems. On the other hand, planting late (generally after Oct 20 in northern Ohio) can reduce the number of primary tillers that develop in the fall and increases the risk of cold temperature injury. The Hessian Fly free dates can be found at (

THREE. Optimum seeding rates are between 1.2 and 1.6 million seeds per acre. For drills with 7.5 inch row spacing, this is about 18 to 24 seeds per foot of row with normal sized seed. When wheat is planted on time, actual seeding rate has little effect on yield, but high seeding rates (above 30 seeds per foot of row) increase lodging. There is no evidence that more seed is better, it only costs more money. If planting is delayed to more than three weeks after the Fly-Free date, plant 24-26 seeds per foot of row which is 1.75 million seeds per acre.

FOUR. 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. Remember, you can not compensate for a poor planting job by planting more seeds; it just costs more money.

FIVE. Apply 20 to 30 lb of actual nitrogen per acre at planting to promote fall tiller development. Wheat also requires at least 45 ppm of available phosphorus per acre in the soil to produce really good grain yields. If the soil test indicates less than 40 ppm, then apply 80 to 100 pounds of P2O5 at planting. Soil potassium should be maintained at levels of 135, 165 and 185 ppm for soils with cation exchange capacities for 10, 20, or 30, respectively. If potassium levels are low, apply 60 to 100 pounds of K2O at planting. In Ohio, limed soils usually have adequate calcium, magnesium and sulfur for wheat. Soil pH should be between 6.5 and 7.0.

The key to a successful wheat crop is adequate and timely management. The above recommendations are guidelines that may be fine-tuned by you to fit your farming operation and soils. They also assume that you are planting wheat in fields that are adequately drained. You can review more details on these, and other, research-based wheat management recommendations on-line at

I have done all these things and left the rest to Mother Nature. She has been rampaging since July last year with no rain for months and then rain about rain for months.

My tissue test came back and as expected from the poor growing conditions, it is deficient in potassium, boron and zinc. Wheat needs less water and better uptake to get these valuable nutrients into the plant.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend!



  1. Wheat in SW Oklahoma making a whopping 5-15 bushels per acre!! Nothing like drought!!

  2. In reference to #4. Out here farmers are upping their planting rates especially with no-till. The goal is 200 bushel per acre. I no-tilled wheat for a couple farmers at 160lbs per acre.
    They don't tell me exact yields but they keep upping the planting rate every year. Oregon State says it is a waste. I get tired of filling the drill at 12 acres instead of 20 but I also don't bite the hand that feeds me.

  3. Wow those are low yields and high seeding rates! I think I should have planted another 200,000 seeds per acre but my goal was 2 million, it just didn't all come up in the dry weather last fall.