Fall Wheat Recommendations
Variety Selection, Seed Treatments
- Spread risks by planting a package of varieties.
- Select varieties based on maturity and product placement.
- Pay attention to product watch-outs. For example:
- Do not plant varieties highly susceptible to Fusarium head blight after corn.
- Plant varieties with good standability in manured fields or high-nitrogen-management scenarios where additional lodging pressure is likely.
- Manage Fusarium head blight (FHB). Getting acceptable control of FHB takes a multifaceted approach. Combining all three management guidelines below can help achieve up to 70-80% control. 100% control of FHB is not likely achievable.
- Planting after soybeans has less risk than planting after corn.
- Select a variety that has a good genetic defense against FHB.
- Apply labeled fungicides at correct timings and rates.
- A fungicide/insecticide seed treatment (FST/IST) is recommended to guard against seedling diseases and fall infections of barley yellow dwarf virus transmitted by aphids.
Image courtesy of Deere & Co.
- It is important to have an accurate soil test on the field and apply phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) as needed. P is important for establishing a stand and for fall growth. As the soil cools in the fall, P availability becomes limited, so adequate soil amounts must be maintained.
- Adequate soil test levels would be:
P: 45 ppm (90 lb/acre)
K: 150 to 200 ppm (300 to 400 lb/acre)
- Wheat does not require huge amounts of fall nitrogen (N), but there needs to be 20 to 40 lb/acre available for good adequate fall growth and initial tillering. Applying 18-46-00 in the fall as a P source will likely get the required amounts of N.
- If manure has been applied in the past 2 years, there may be sufficient N available. A soil test should be pulled for evaluation.
Planting Date, Rates and Conditions
- Observe the "Hessian fly-free date" for your area. Optimum planting date will be 2 days before to 14 days after that date. Planting too early puts the plants at risk of too much fall growth which could lead to increased winterkill. Also, aphids are usually attracted to the "lushest" wheat in the area, so early planted, thick wheat should be scouted often for aphid populations.
- Seeding rates should range from 1.2 million to 2.0 million seeds/acre with optimum rates in the 1.4 to 1.6 million range.
- If planting in less than ideal conditions including no-till, or if planting late in the fall, increase rates to 1.6 to 2.0 million seeds/acre to compensate for possible lower stand establishment rates and a lack of fall growth and tillering.
- Properly calibrate the drill. Most manufacturers explain the process in the owner's manual. The factory settings are close, but a quick physical calibration can lead to greater accuracy.
- A properly prepared seedbed will allow for good seed-to-soil contact and accurate depth control. When you think it looks good, make 1 more pass.
- If planting after heavy corn residue, it may take several tillage passes to size and bury the residue. If proper tillage cannot be achieved, no-tilling may be a better option.
John Deere 455 box drill ready for fall seeding of winter wheat.
Image courtesy of Deere & Co.
Hessian Fly-free Planting Dates
Map adapted from USDA-ARS data.