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Managing Wheat This Fall

Wheat Management

September is here and wheat planting will begin before we know it. Although soybeans will probably be harvested later than normal in many areas of the state, there will be some fields harvested earlier and wheat planting can begin. When is the best time to plant wheat? Generally speaking, it is best to plant wheat earlier rather than later.

Early planted wheat offers the following advantages:

--- Better emergence and fall growth.
--- More tillers will form in the fall with early planting.
--- Tillers that form in the fall have larger heads than tillers formed in the spring.
--- Less heaving the following spring if the nodal roots start to establish.

There are some potential disadvantages to planting too early:

--- Hessian fly could become an issue. Although this has not been an issue in recent years, it is still best to plant after the fly free date which is shown on the Ohio map.
Planting prior to the fly free date can cause more potential issues with aphids which can transmit barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV). BYDV hurts yields more when the plant gets the disease in the fall compared with the spring.

--- Earlier planting may cause leaf diseases to establish in the fall, which can cause more damage in the spring.

--- The earlier you plant the earlier the wheat will try to come out of winter. This is influenced by genetics more so than planting date, but it can make a difference. A late spring frost will hurt varieties that come out of winter faster.

In my opinion, the potential for higher yields and more tillers planting right at the fly free date outweigh the potential concerns, especially if you are willing to spray insecticides and/or fungicides.

For more Agronomic News from Mark Apelt Beck’s Regional Product Specialist and Certified Crop Advisor, please visit his 

Agronomy Page



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