Ohio Wheat: Delayed Planting – What Should You Do?

Photo: Kansas State University

Wet weather has delayed wheat planting in many areas of the state. Generally, the best time to plant wheat is the 10-day period starting the day after the fly-free-safe date. 

When wheat is planted more than 10-days after the fly-free-safe date, there is an increased chance of reduced fall growth and reduced winter hardiness. The effect of planting date on wheat yield is shown in Figure 6-2 of the Ohio Agronomy Guide. (A free pdf of the guide is available here)

There is still time to plant wheat, but the window is closing. Wheat planted 3-4 weeks after the fly-free-safe date can achieve the same yield as earlier planted wheat if freezing weather does not occur until late November or early December.

However, as we enter three to four weeks after the fly-free-safe date, growers should plant at a higher seeding rate than the regularly recommended rate of 1.2 to 1.6 million seeds per acre for 7.5-inch rows (that is about 18 to 24 seeds per foot of row with normal sized seed) to compensate for fewer tiller development.

Instead, plant at a rate of 1.6 to 2.0 million seed per acre. The number of seeds per pound and germination rate are important for determining the correct seeding rate and drill calibration. There are fewer seeds per pound of large seeds than per pound of small seeds. The number of seeds per pound can be found on the seed bag.

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Additionally, late planting also means plants will be smaller than normal when entering dormancy, have smaller and more shallow root systems than normal making them more susceptible to heaving next March.

The best heaving control it to get the seed placed between 1.0 and 1.5 inches deep when planting and to plant no-till.  These two practices combined will reduce heaving potential by more than 95 percent.

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