Winter Wheat: Establishment
Ideally, seed winter wheat between September 20 and October 3 in Area 1, between September 25 and October 8 in Area 2, and between October 1 and October 15 in Area 3 (Figure 1.7-1). Seed 1.0 to 1.25 inches deep. Maintain a uniform seeding depth. The desired plant population for winter wheat is 1.3 to 1.5 million per acre (28 to 34 plants/sq ft). This requires a seeding rate between 1.5 and 1.7 million seeds per acre or 20–23 seeds per foot in a 7-inch row. Use the lower rates in Area 3 and the higher rates in Areas 1 and 2. The seeding rate should be based on the number of seeds per acre rather than pounds per acre. Refer to Table 1.7-3 when estimating the appropriate seeding rate for various drill row spacings. Seeding rates shown in Table 1.7-3 are adequate if you are seeding under ideal conditions; increase these rates when seeding under poor conditions such as a cloddy seedbed or a delayed planting date. When seeding more than 2 weeks following the fly-free date, later increase the seeding rate by 10 percent for each week delayed past that date. Do not delay seeding winter wheat because of dry soil. If fall pasture is desired, plant 1 to 2 weeks earlier and apply 40 pounds of nitrogen per acre in addition to recommended fall rates. When grazing, allow the plants to accumulate 3 to 4 inches of top growth before going dormant in the fall. In the spring, remove the cattle before growth stage 6 (see Figure 1.7-2).
Satisfactory yields depend on having approximately 40 heads per linear foot of row when planted in 7-inch rows. To achieve this, you need a stand of 17 plants per foot of row. Winter grain plants have the ability to increase tiller production as the population is reduced. This reduces the effect of low populations on yield. However, populations can be reduced enough that the land area should be replanted into another crop later in the spring. This occurs when there is about a 50 percent stand remaining, or seven to nine plants per linear foot of row.