If the warm weather continues, planting winter wheat late may be a viable option, says Jochum Wiersma, University of Minnesota Extension small grains specialist.
If you want to plant and wait for grain, place seed about an inch deep so that it will be able to emerge quickly once rainfall is received. Though seeds that just begin the germination process will vernalize (meet the necessary cold requirement to produce a spike in the summer), a much larger seedling typically has a better chance of overwintering and being more productive.
"In the last three years of our research, the early planted treatments have always been more productive than those planted later than optimal, though the difference was not always large, depending on the year and the variety grown," Wiersma says. "If the warm weather we are currently experiencing spills over into the October, however, there should be ample time to produce a productive seedling, even if rains delay a week or two more."
The following are some guidelines Wiersma says to consider when planting winter wheat late or in conditions where it may germinate and emerge late:
- Increase your seeding rate by about 150,000 to 200,000 seeds per acre. There is no advantage to seeding more than 1.8 million seeds per acre, however.
- Select more winter hardy varieties. Late planted seedlings will be small as winter approaches and will be more prone to winter injury, particularly if there is little snow cover this winter. A winter hardy variety will help reduce the risk of winter injury and be more productive when conditions are conducive to winter injury.
- Plant into standing stubble if you have a choice. Standing stubble will catch snow, if there is any, and help insulate the crop during the winter. Since late plantings are more prone to winter injury, management practices that increase the likelihood of warmer soil temperatures will improve the chance of winter survival.
- Add some phosphorous with the seed. This is especially true if your soil test for P is low. P helps to develop strong roots and crown tissue which will aid in the overwintering processes. The rate of P applied, should be limited by the amount of N that is applied with the P. With narrow rows, nitrogen should not exceed about 15 lbs/acre with the seed, particularly in these dry conditions. With wider rows, be more conservative with the rate.
- Consider treating your seed with fungicides and possibly an insecticide. Since the seed may lay in the soil for an extended period before germination, a fungicide applied to the seed will help protect it from diseases and an insecticide will be beneficial especially if wireworms are likely to be present.
Source: University of Minnesota