Attention to detail during fall seeding can boost yield
The timely planting of winter wheat could be the key to successful yields.
Growers whose yields exceeded 100 bushels per acre, despite the year’s variable moisture, credit their success to a smooth start to the growing season, an OMAFRA field crop news report
Some producers neglect winter wheat planting until they finish soybean harvesting. A lack of focus on wheat seeding in the fall, however, can shape how the crop endures poor weather throughout the growing season.
"Sometimes we really don't treat winter wheat with the same reverence that we do soybeans and corn,” Dale Cowan, a senior agronomist with AGRIS Co-operative and Wanstead Farmers Co-operative, told Farms.com today. “We tend, sometimes, to plant on less than ideal conditions because it’s something to do at the end of the season.”
For each day that farmers delay planting past its ideal date, yields can decline by 1.1 bu/ac/day, Ontario research shows.
To ensure the crop is planted on time, try following the combine with the drill, making sure all soybean residue is consistently spread so the drill can penetrate. Servicing equipment well in advance of planting time is another way to avoid setbacks.
"Planting dates are important, but what's more important is conditions of planting, and more so the conditions ten days to two weeks after planting. If the weather is suitable … then you get a good germination and good root development," said Cowan.
Winter wheat is very responsive to starter fertilizer, specifically phosphorus, provincial research has shown. It gives the crop nutrients to encourage early growth and root development.
“Winter wheat is a crop is a crop that will respond to management and reward us quite well," Cowan explained.
Another recommendation for successful yields? Fall weed control can help to manage herbicide-resistant Canada fleabane and to control perennial and winter annual weeds, the report states.
Altering seeding depths and populations can also ensure a strong start to the crop. Plant winter wheat roughly one inch (2.5 centimetres) deep to prevent the crop from being subject to harsh winter conditions. If conditions are dry during planting, adjust the depth to ensure the seed is in moisture. If planting is delayed, rates should be increased by 200,000 seeds/week to a maximum of 2.2 million seeds/acre.
While the timing of winter wheat planting can be tricky as producers harvest their soybeans, “… when it comes to winter wheat, time is money,” the report states. Starting on time, using starter fertilizer and adjusting seeding depths and rates are all steps in the right direction for successful yields.
"There's a bit of an art to the science," Cowan said.
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