Michigan Wheat: Late Planting Suggestions

Wheat planter. Photo: Martin Nagelkirk, Michigan State University

The weather this fall 2018 has not been favorable for seeding all of Michigan’s winter wheat acreage. The harvest of preceding crops such as soybeans and dry beans has been delayed due to damp weather. In other cases, planting is delayed because of overly wet soils. As of this past weekend, only 40 percent of Michigan’s wheat has been seeded, according to the Michigan Crop Weather Report for October 15, 2018.

While they cannot compete with those seedings made in September, wheat planted in late October and even early November can often be successful. While more research is needed to better identify best practices for late-seeded wheat, consider the following suggestions from Michigan State University Extension.

  • Ramp-up seeding rates as the weeks go by. By the third or fourth week of October, boost seeding rates to 2.0 million seeds per acre or more (28 or more seeds per foot of row).
  • Apply approximately 20 pounds per acre of fertilizer nitrogen this fall in the hope that an extended fall season may allow some tiller development. To further promote tillering, apply some or all of next spring’s nitrogen early during green-up.
  • Shallowly place seeds for October-seeded wheat—maybe an inch or less. This is to help the seedlings emerge as soon as possible even though a shallow seed depth coupled with late planting can leave stands more susceptible to winter kill. If electing to plant in early November, these seedlings may not emerge until next spring.
  • Adjust yield expectations downward, and realign inputs and expenditures to match. While some growers have achieved yields comparable to their farm average, it is more likely yields will be around 80 percent below that of timely seeded fields (assuming significant winter damage is not a factor).

By way of reminder, to be eligible for crop insurance you must plant by the specific deadline date for your county. The date is within the last week of October for much of central and southern Michigan, but is earlier in northern areas. See the USDA Risk Management Crop Report Criteria or contact your local insurance agent for the date in your county.


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