WOOSTER, Ohio — Despite the late start for Ohio wheat planting due to persistent rainfall and delayed corn and soybean harvest, the early performance of the crop is getting good marks.
According to the Ohio Agricultural Statistics Service, the wheat crop is 97 percent planted and about 95 percent emerged. Nearly 80 percent of the crop is rated in fair to good condition. That spells positive news for strong crop establishment before winter sets in.
"You want the wheat well-established by the time it gets cold," said Pierce Paul, a research scientist and plant pathologist for Ohio State University's Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. "In terms of survival, we'd like to see wheat go into winter with three to four tillers per plant."
The more tillers a wheat plant has, the higher its chances for surviving through winter. Because of the late planting of nearly a quarter of Ohio's wheat crop, concerns were raised over how well the crop would establish itself before going dormant.
"The chance of winter kill is increased with late-planted wheat," said Paul. "In addition, poor stand development is likely to occur in wheat that doesn't develop the appropriate number of tillers per foot of row."
To compensate for reduced tiller development in late-planted wheat, growers increased their seeding rate from the standard 1.2-1.6 million seeds per acre to anywhere from 1.6-2 million seeds per acre.
"Increasing the seeding rate should take care of the issues with reduced tiller development," said Paul. "Now farmers just need a little luck to carry their crop to spring."
This year's wheat harvest was a bumper crop, yielding an estimated 71 bushels per acre — the highest yields produced in Ohio since 2000. Analysts speculate that the 2005/2006 season's planted acreage may surpass this past season's 890,000 acres. According to Paul, about 860,000 acres have been planted in Ohio to date.