Canola is coming off and seeding of winter wheat is upon us. While acres of winter wheat have dropped in recent years, there are good agronomic and economic reasons to include winter wheat in your crop rotation. Get your winter wheat crop off to a great start this fall by considering these seeding tips.
- Stubble – Winter wheat needs a good snow cover of 4 inches or more to ensure winter survival. This can be accomplished by direct seeding into tall, dense standing stubble. Stubble disturbance during harvest and seeding should be minimized to ensure that a good amount of stubble is retained for snow trapping.
- Weed control – It is important to control green cereal vegetation prior to seeding winter wheat to eliminate the risk of wheat streak mosaic virus. Winter wheat should not be seeded near immature spring cereals and all cereal volunteers should be controlled at least 2 weeks before seeding winter wheat.
- Variety selection – Yield is generally the first factor considered when choosing a winter wheat variety, but farmers should also compare varieties for agronomic factors such as standability, disease resistance, maturity, and winter hardiness. Seed Manitoba is an excellent starting place for evaluating the current and new varieties coming to the marketplace (www.seedmb.ca).
- Seeding date – Healthy, vigorous plants must be established before freeze-up to attain maximum cold tolerance. The goal is to have plants with a well-developed crown and about 3 leaves going into the winter. The crown is the area from which the plant regrows in the spring. Research has demonstrated that seeding during the period from late August to early September (approximately August 25 to September 10) consistently produces the best crops in terms of both yield and quality.
- Seeding depth – Winter wheat should be seeded less than 1” deep even when seedbeds are dry. Shallow seeding allows the seed to take advantage of fall rains, and as little as 1/3” of rain is enough to successfully establish winter wheat.
- Seeding rate – Seed at higher rates to ensure a dense, uniform plant stand to enhance weed competition, winter survival, and yield potential. Typically, farmers should be aiming for a final plant stand of 30 plants per square foot in the fall. Calculate the seeding rate needed to obtain the desired final plant stand with the formula below:
Seeding Rate (lb/ac) = Target plant stand/ft2 X 1000 kernel weight (g) / Expected seedling survival* X 10
*Expected seedling survival is used in its decimal form (90% = 0.9) and includes percent germination and seedling mortality.
Submitted by: Anne Kirk, Cereal Crops Specialist, Manitoba Agriculture