As fall approaches following a tough wheat year, it’s a good time to assess our thoughts regarding winter wheat management considerations this fall. One of our main considerations this year was head scab, and that should be a consideration in planning for next year’s crop. Wheat plays an important role in our crop rotations. To keep growing it, it’s best to manage for high yield and quality.
The first consideration is field selection and finding those fields that will allow timely planting. Ideally to reduce the risk of take all disease, wheat should not follow wheat. Typically fields following oats, early soybeans, corn silage and vegetable crops are ideal.
Winter wheat should be seeded 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. 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) and 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.
Another consideration is variety selection. There are more varieties available now with some scab resistance, which should have been a consideration this year. Also give some thought to wheat maturity considerations. Wheat maturity is a function of planting date and variety. On some farms, it might be ideal to have a range of maturity to facilitate harvest. On others this makes it difficult to get accurate timing of a fungicide on all fields, if they get sprayed at the same time. In those situations, you would want to avoid a big range in maturity if possible.
Fall fertilization is another consideration. This is a good time to catch up on P and K and apply manure or fertilizer. In some cases, where residual N could be low following corn grain or oats, we may see some response to fall N applications. Following soybeans, N response should be lower.
Much of our wheat yield potential is a function of decisions that are made in the fall. Take time now to make plans for a successful wheat planting season this year.