Question: I didn’t put any wheat in last year, but am thinking I will this year because prices look good. Obviously, it’s not my main crop, so any advice you have on growing it would be much appreciated.
Answer: We realize that the wheat price outlook has farmers taking a second look at growing wheat this year, so you’re in good company. Fairly small things like fine-tuning seeding and nitrogen rates can make significant contributions to crop success with wheat. Establishing a consistent number of wheat heads per square yard is one practice that we believe wheat producers would benefit from implementing. On average, U.S. growers need to aim to establish between 450 and 600 heads of wheat per square yard. Farmers whose fields receive timely rains during the growing season need to shoot for the higher end of that spectrum. Growers whose acreage receives little rainfall each season should aim for the lower end. When you establish a consistent, uniform number of heads of wheat per square yard, many of the other components that contribute to high wheat yields are automatically addressed at the same time. Use large-sized, well-cleaned (ideally, certified) seed and plant at a depth of 1" to 1.5", if moisture is available at those depths. Consistent planting depth helps achieve even emergence, and seeder calibration aids in seed placement. Research shows that spring wheat seeded at a consistent 1" depth will be 72% emerged within a three-day window. Planting at 3" results in 81% emergence in a seven-day window.
This blog is provided as an interactive way for you to have your questions answered by our Farm Journal Agronomists. E-mail your nitrogen, soil fertility, soil density, planter set-up, scouting, and other questions to: TestPlots@FarmJournal.com.