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Wide-Row Wheat Management

By Pierce Paul and Laura Lindsey

Growers may be interested in wide-row wheat production due to reductions in equipment inventory (lack of grain drill) and to allow intercropping of soybean into wheat. Wheat row spacing work conducted during the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 growing season (funded by Ohio Small Grains Marketing Program) indicated that wheat grown in 15-inch rows produced yields that were 1 to 11 percent lower than wheat grown in 7.5-inch row spacing. In both years and locations, the trials were planted 10 days after the fly-safe date at a rate of 25 seeds per foot of row for both row spacings (1.7 and 0.85 million seeds per acre for 7.5-inch and 15-inch row spacings, respectively). Nitrogen (30 pounds per acre) was applied at planting each year to stimulate fall growth, tillering, and improve winter hardiness. Because the seeding rate per foot of row was the same for all row widths, the seed cost for the 15-inch rows is half that for 7.5-inch rows.

Growing wheat

Growing wheat

When producing wheat in wide rows, consider the following management tips:

  1. Choose a variety that is high yielding and resistant to major diseases such as powdery mildew, leaf rust, Septoria and Stagonospora blotches, and head scab. See for the 2021 Ohio Wheat Performance Test.
  2. Plant wheat as soon as possible after the Hessian fly-safe date.
  3. A seeding rate of 25 to 29 seeds per foot of row (0.85 to 1.0 million seeds per acre) is recommended. In on-farm research trials conducted in Fulton County, there was no yield increase when wheat was seeded at 29 seeds per foot of row (1.0 million seeds per acre) compared to 43 seeds per foot of row (1.5 million seeds per acre).
  4. Changing row spacing will change the microclimate within the wheat canopy, and this could affect disease development. Scout fields for foliar diseases and use the scab forecasting system to determine whether disease risk is high enough to warrant a fungicide application.
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