5 Factors to Ensure a Good Wheat Establishment

September, 2014

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5 Factors to Ensure a Good Wheat Establishment

Ensuring good early establishment in your wheat crop is essential to a healthy crop.  Current weather and crop conditions indicate late planting with potentially wet soil conditions.  I have put together five factors to give your wheat crop a good start.

1 – Good Soil Conditions

Ensure the field is fit after combining.  Combine ruts are areas of compaction.  Ruts will collect water resulting in lower germination and higher winterkill.  If rutting has occurred consider vertical tillage to level out the field.  Good soil conditions are crucial for early crop development.  Using corn as an example, waiting 1-2 days to allow soil conditions to improve can gain a week in early development.  Wheat is no different.  Proper seed to soil contact, moisture and temperature allow for quick germination and good population establishment.

2 – Phosphate Starter

While proper fertility is needed in any condition for good plant establishment, in cool, wet conditions, it is essential.  Under these conditions, nutrients are often less available.  Especially important is seed placed phosphate.  Ideally phosphate with the seed, either dry or liquid will help with early plant establishment.  If seed placed P is not an option, studies have shown a positive response to broadcasted P as well as seed placed P.  Seed placed P is just a bit more cost efficient.

3 – Residue Management

Ensure your combine is spreading the residue as evenly as possible.  As combine heads get bigger, the ability to evenly distribute chaff and straw over the full width of the combine becomes harder.  If cultivating, this residue can plug cultivators resulting in uneven seed bed.  Even the best no-till drills can have a hard time penetrating these high residue paths.  This will result in poorer seed placement, planting depth and germination.

4 – Planting Depth

Check your drill to ensure a planting depth of 1-1.5”.  This ensures proper root establishment and maximizes emergence under most conditions.

5 – Population

When planting later make sure you do not skimp on population.  Rule of thumb is 1.5 million seeds per acre (22 seeds /ft row) on clay loam and lighter soil and 1.8 million seeds per acre (27 seeds/ft row) on clay.  Tweak these numbers upwards as needed at time of planting as temperature, moisture and timing become less ideal or late.

Planning for success is the key to yield and profit.  Take a few minutes when planting to get as many factors as possible right and avoid the headaches later.

If you have any more questions please contact your Veritas Agronomy team.