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    Louisiana Wheat: Time To Plant? Well That Depends.

    I have received some reports of producers who were anxious to plant wheat this past week. Today (October 14) we are still 14 days ahead of the the front end of our recommended window for south Louisiana and just at the beginning of our recommendations for north Louisiana.

    If you advise farmers, urge your producers to follow our recommended planting dates and variety selection. For example, planting a variety with an early heading date early in the season could make the plants head out prematurely, so they would be much more prone to freeze injury, insect pressure and rust (see below).

    In addition to early planting in the southern part of the state, dry conditions will not favor germination and plant establishment.

    Planting dates for Louisiana wheat depend on location and variety. For southern and central Louisiana, optimum planting dates range from November 1 through November 30. The optimum planting for northern Louisiana is slightly earlier, ranging from October 15 through November 15.

    Early-heading varieties should generally be planted after the mid-date, while late-heading varieties can be pushed a little on the early side of the planting window.

    The weather in north Louisiana is cooler in the fall and early winter, which slows growth and prevents excess winter growth.

    It is important that the wheat crop be well-established and fully tillered before going dormant in the coldest part of the winter. Additionally, because of the cooler conditions, the threat for fall pests (Hessian fly, army worms and rust) is decreased earlier in the fall compared to south and central Louisiana.

    While these dates are the optimum planting window averaged over years, the timing will vary by year, depending on weather patterns. Additionally, if wheat cannot be planted within these optimum windows, planting later than the optimum window is usually better than planting too early.

    Early planting can result in greater insect and fall rust establishment and also makes plants more prone to spring freeze injury due to excessive fall growth and development. Planting too late (more than 14 days after the optimum window) can result in significant yield loss due to slow emergence, seed rotting and decreased tillering period, which can results in fewer and smaller heads per acre.

    Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

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