6 Tips for Winter Wheat Seeding

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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

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How Can I Reduce Fertilizer Losses in Dry Spring Soils?

Dry spring weather is great for seeding but may play havoc with some fertilizer applications and losses.

1.Seedplaced fertilizer – Where seedbed moisture is low or when weather is hot and windy, reduce the rates of seedplaced nitrogen  by approximately 50 per cent. Table 7 of the Manitoba Soil Fertility Guide  http://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/crops/soil-fertility/soil-fertility-guide/nitrogen.html indicates safe rates of seedplaced urea under different soil texture, moisture and seedbed utilization conditions.  But as conditions dry, these rates should be reduced accordingly.

2.Surface applied urea or urea-forms (like UAN solution 28-0-0) – are vulnerable to volatilization losses.  The soil and environmental factors increasing risk of loss are well known and include:moist soil conditions, followed by rapid drying

  • high wind velocity
  • warm soil temperatures
  • high soil pH (> pH 7.5)
  • high lime content in surface soil
  • coarse soil texture (sandy)
  • low organic matter content
  • high amount of surface residue (Zero Till)

Volatilization losses can be reduced with dribble placement of UAN versus broadcast applications and the use of an urease inhibitor.  The active ingredient NBPT used in Agrotain Ultra is now marketed by a number of companies.  To expect the same level of protection as Agrotain Ultra, ensure the application rate is similar, since formulation strength and recommended rates differ among suppliers.  Agrotain Ultra contains 27% NBPT with an application rate of 3.1 l/tonne urea or 1.6 l/tonne UAN.

3. Last year the lack of rainfall through much of May left surface applied nitrogen stranded at the surface.  If possible, a portion of the crops nitrogen for cereals and canola should be in-soil placed.  In season applications should be targeted prior to stem elongation of cereals and bolting of canola.

 

 

 

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Crop Germination – What Soil Temperatures are Needed?

Soil temperature drives germination and seedling emergence, so how cold is too cold?  What is your soil temperature at your targeted seeding depth….today? Finally, when should you be measuring the soil temperature?

The following are the minimum temperatures needed for germination to begin in various crops.  These values should be regarded as approximate, since germination depends on factors other than just temperature.  But, if soils are too cool, germination will be delayed and cause uneven or poor seedling emergence.

 

Crop Temperature     (°C)
Wheat 4
Barley 3
Oats 5
Corn 10
Canola 5
Flax 9
Sunflower 6
Edible Beans 10
Peas 4
Soybeans 10

Sources: North Dakota State University Extension Service, Alberta Agriculture & Rural Development and Canola Council of Canada

Getting an accurate measure on soil temperature

Determine how deep you will be seeding. Then place your soil thermometer at the targeted depth. Take two measurements throughout the day: one in the morning (8am) and one in the early evening (8pm).  Average the two readings to determine the average soil temperature. The recommendation is to take readings for two to three days to establish a multiple day average and to measure at a number of locations in the field, to account for field variability.

Still not sure and short on time?  See the soil temperature data for various locations across Manitoba from the MB Ag-Weather Program: https://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/weather/soil-temperature.html.  This can be used as a guideline for an area, but in-field measurements are going to tell you what is actually going on in your field!

 

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Seed Placed Fertilizer – Safe Rates

A reminder that if seedbeds turn dry, the safety margin shrinks when applying seed placed fertilizer.  Seedburn can result from ammonia toxicity and/or salt content of fertilizers.

For nitrogen, our Soil Fertility Guide provided safe guidelines for seed placed urea on cereals and canola across a range of soil types and seed-fertilizer configurations.  With the increased popularity of narrow seed and fertilizer spreads with disk drills, the safe rates are reduced.  For example, safe urea rates for cereals vary from 10 to 25 lb N/ac going from sand to clay soil using disk openers on 6” row spacing.  These guidelines are for moist soil and should be reduced by 50% if seedbed moisture is lower when weather is hot and windy.

The safe rates of seed placed phosphorus depends on the crop, with cereals being quite tolerant compared to soybeans, dry beans and canola.  With a disk drill as described above, cereals can tolerate 50 to 60 lb P2O5/ac as mono ammonium phosphate while rates would be 20 lbs/ac for canola and less for beans.   If there greater seedbed utilization (i.e. narrower rows or a wider seedrow with less fertilizer concentration) rates could be more liberal.

More on these safe rates of fertilizer is posted on Manitoba Agriculture’s website at: http://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/crops/soil-fertility/print,safe-rates-of-seed-placed-phosphorus-for-manitoba–narrow-row-and-row-crops.html

 

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When Should I Start Planting Corn in 2017?

Is it better to plant into cold soils realizing the seed is going to sit there until the soil warms up? Or should corn be planted when soil temperatures are warmer and approaching 10°C?

Planting into cold soils.  Early planting is a component of successful corn production in Manitoba, to maximize yield, obtain high quality and low percent kernel moisture at harvest (which will decrease drying costs), and to ensure the crop is mature before fall frosts.

Cooler soil temperatures can delay the crop’s emergence. Wet conditions added to cold soil temperatures can favor soil pathogen development, increasing seedling disease risks in both germinating seeds and young seedlings. When planting early in the season or when the soil is cold, a planting rate 10% higher than the desired final stand should be considered to compensate for possible increased seedling mortality. As well, when planting into cool soils, other seeding management becomes important, such as good seedbed condition (good soil to seed contact) and planting operations (including planting depth).

For more complete information, visit Manitoba Corn Growers website at http://manitobacorn.ca/plant-corn-wait-warmer-soils/

 

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Spring Options for Applying Nitrogen Fertilizer in 2017

With the wet conditions and delayed harvest experienced in parts of Manitoba in fall 2016, very few farmers were able to complete their fall fertilization program.  Since early seeding is important for optimizing crop yield, producers will be looking for ways to apply their N requirements efficiently without delaying the seeding operation.  In addition, soil reserves of N are variable and margins between crop revenue and input costs are modest; therefore, optimizing nitrogen fertilizer use efficiency is important.  To achieve these objectives for a spring fertilization program will require use of a 4R nutrient stewardship strategy:  applying the right rate of the right fertilizer source, with the right placement and at the right time to minimize losses of fertilizer N to the environment and optimize the crop’s access to the fertilizer.

For more detailed information, see the on-line factsheet at http://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/crops/seasonal-reports/pubs/spring-n-options-17.pdf

Submitted by John Heard, Crop Nutrition Specialist, MB Ag

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Historical Seeding Progress in Manitoba by the End of the Second Week of May

Producers who participate in AgriInsurance provides seeding date information to Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation (MASC).  This dataset provides us a historical perspective of when seeding has taken place in the past.  Seeding date data information is broken down into a week:month format, i.e. 1:05 is Week 1 in the 5th Month (May).  So 2:05 is Week 2 in May, and so on.

In Table 1, cumulative seeding progress to the end of Week 2 in May for six crop types is provided.  The last five year (2010-2014) average cumulative seeding progress is noted, along with what was seeded in the same timeframe in 2015.   Please note that data is for final insured crop in the ground.

Table 1:  Seeding progress (%) in Manitoba by end of Week 2 in May (2:05)

Seeding Progress End of Week 2 May

Based on the May 16th Manitoba Crop Report, overall seeding progress is estimated at 61% complete.  There isn’t a provincial breakdown provided of seeding progress by crop type in 2016. However, looking at the information for the various crop types, we can infer that seeding progress in Manitoba in 2016 is likely still ahead of the five year average for cereal crops and grain corn.

Submitted by: Pam de Rocquigny, Provincial Cereal Crops Specialist, Manitoba Agriculture

Follow Manitoba Agriculture on Twitter (@MBGovAg) to receive updates on seeding progress through the weekly Manitoba Crop Report.
The weekly crop report is also available at Manitoba Crop Report.

 

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Historical Seeding Progress in Manitoba for First Week of May

Producers who participate in AgriInsurance provides seeding date information to Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation (MASC).  This dataset provides us a historical perspective of when seeding has taken place in the past.  Seeding date data information is broken down into a week:month format, i.e. 1:05 is Week 1 in the 5th Month (May).  So 2:05 is Week 2 in May, and so on.

Each week is then categorized dependent on the day of the week in which the month starts.  So if Week 1 starts on a Sunday, there will be 7 days of seeding captured in Week 1 (which applies to 2016 as May 1st was on a Sunday).  However, if Week 1 starts on Friday (like we had in 2015), there are 9 days captured in Week 1.  Confused yet?  Essentially, each year will have a different number of days captured in each weekly timeframe, varying from 5 days up to 12 days.  However, the data still provides good reference points to seeding progress in Manitoba.

In Table 1, cumulative seeding progress to the end of Week 1 in May for six crop types is provided.  The last five year (2010-2014) average cumulative seeding progress is noted, along with what was seeded in the same timeframe in 2015.   Please note that data is for final insured crop in the ground.

Table 1:  Seeding progress (%) in Manitoba by end of Week 1 in May (1:05)

Seeding Progress First week of May

Based on the May 9th Manitoba Crop Report (Issue #2), overall seeding progress is estimated at 48% complete.  There isn’t a provincial breakdown provided of seeding progress by crop type in 2016. However, looking at the information for the various crop types, we can infer that seeding progress in Manitoba in 2016 is likely ahead of the five year average.

Submitted by: Pam de Rocquigny, Provincial Cereal Crops Specialist, Manitoba Agriculture

Follow Manitoba Agriculture on Twitter (@MBGovAg) to receive updates on seeding progress through the weekly Manitoba Crop Report.
The weekly crop report is also available at Manitoba Crop Report.

 

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Historically, what has been seeding progress prior to May 1st?

Some producers have started their 2016 seeding operations, with spring wheat being seeded and from what I’ve heard a few acres of corn as well.  With some seeding done, I’ve been asked the question: “What has been seeding progress prior to May 1st in Manitoba in recent years?”.

Producers who participate in AgriInsurance provides seeding date information to Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation (MASC).  This dataset provides us a historical perspective of when seeding has taken place in the past.

In Table 1, cumulative seeding progress prior to May 1st for six crop types is provided.  A five year (2010-2014) average cumulative seeding progress is noted, along with what was seeded prior to May 1st in 2015. Please note that data is for final insured crop in the ground.

Table 1:  Seeding progress in Manitoba prior to May 1st.

Historical Planting Progress prior to May 1st

Data Source:  Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation (MASC)

What the table doesn’t show is the wide range of seeding progress prior to May 1st over the past few years.  If we look at seeding progress for red spring wheat in Manitoba, we’ve seen less than 1% of acres seeded prior to May 1st (2009, 2011, 2013 and 2014) but as many as 65% of acres (2010) planted in April.

Look for future updates to historical seeding progress as we enter May!

Submitted by:  Pam de Rocquigny, Provincial Cereal Crops Specialist, Manitoba Agriculture

Follow Manitoba Agriculture on Twitter (@MBGovAg) to receive updates on seeding progress through the weekly Manitoba Crop Report.
The weekly crop report is also available at Manitoba Crop Report.

 

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Have you thought about your seedling mortality?

You’ve chosen the variety or varieties you want to grow in 2016. You’ve decided on your target plant stand. And from your seed test results, you have the percent germination and thousand kernel weight (TKW). But have you given any thought to your seedling mortality?

When calculating the seeding rate needed to achieve your target plant stand, you often hear about TKW and percent germination. But remember when calculating seeding rates, you need to take into account the seedling mortality rate, i.e. what percent of viable seed will germinate but not produce a plant.

Seedling mortality can vary greatly from year to year, and field to field. For cereals, seedling mortality rates can range from 5 to 20%.  Many farmers and agronomists have found a 5 to 10% mortality rate can be assumed. However, farmers may need to make adjustments to their seedling mortality based on factors such as available moisture, soil temperature, residue cover, seed quality, amount of seed-placed fertilizer, seeding depth, seeding date, and disease and insect pressure.

One additional factor you maybe should consider is the impact of seeding rate itself on seedling mortality or stand loss. Grant Mehring from North Dakota State University shared some recent work at the 2015 Manitoba Agronomists Conference looking at optimum seeding rates for hard red spring wheat. Across 23 environments from 2013 to 2015, his research showed increased stand loss as seeding rate increased (from a percent stand loss of 3% at the lowest seeding rate up to 21% at the highest seeding rate). His research suggests using a seedling mortality of 10 to 20%, even under good seed bed conditions.

Determining seedling mortality is not easy. Since mortality depends on the combination of conditions and management practices of individual farms, producers should keep records of emergence (and thus mortality) in their fields each year. The data collected will help in the future when calculating seeding rates.

Submitted by: Pam de Rocquigny, Provincial Cereal Crops Specialist, Manitoba Agriculture

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