Winter Wheat Stand Assessment – Start Now but be Patient!

Winter wheat is starting to resume growth after what has been a generally mild winter in Manitoba.  Now is the time producers across Manitoba can start assessing their winter wheat stands.

So what should the plant stand be in a winter wheat field?   An optimum winter wheat plant stand consists of 20-30 plants per square foot.  However, it is well-known that winter wheat has the amazing ability to compensate for thin plant stands by increasing tillering.  The impact of poor stands on yield is not black and white.  Research has shown that a plant stand of 7-8 plants per square foot yields about 70-80% of a normal stand (see Target Plant Stands for Winter Wheat).   However, the key point to remember is a thin stand won’t likely compensate fully to produce full yields.

Trying to make the decision on whether to keep that winter wheat stand or replant is never easy and SHOULDN’T BE RUSHED. Stands are rarely uniform and the variability within the field makes the decision more difficult.  What is important to keep in mind is timely management in the spring increases the success of a winter wheat crop. A thin winter wheat stand with timely weed control and nitrogen fertilizer applied early will almost always be worth saving.

AgriInsurance Considerations:

Winter wheat and fall rye destroyed prior to June 20th are not be eligible for a Stage 1 indemnity (50% coverage), only the 25% reseed benefit for losses prior to June 20th. If you are considering reseeding due to  poor plant stands and before destroying any winter wheat fields, please contact your local MASC insurance agent.  For more information, please visit MASC’s website at:

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

For more information on winter wheat production, visit Manitoba Agriculture’s website at

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