WOOSTER, Ohio — Late soybean harvest may impact Ohio wheat planting, but growers should take steps to prepare for next season's crop, nonetheless.
Pat Lipps, an Ohio State University plant pathologist with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, said that the recent rains have ripened conditions for planting wheat, rather than deterring it.
"We were heading into some dry situations in certain areas before the rain," said Lipps. "Now the soil is moist enough to plant wheat, so the rains were actually a good thing for the crop."
Lipps encourages growers to pay attention to the following recommendations to prepare for wheat planting while waiting to harvest their soybean crop.
• Growers should select the best varieties — all based on yield potential, test weights, standability and diseases resistance. "A grower with substantial wheat acreage should plant several varieties, not just one, and choose varieties with different relative maturities to spread flowering dates that will lower the risk of head scab to the crop," said Lipps.
• Growers should adhere to the optimum planting date for their county as closely as possible. "The optimum planting date extends from the Hessian Fly-free date to 10 days afterward. We've found that this timeframe produces optimum yields," said Lipps. "Planting too early creates insect and disease situations, and planting too late increases risks associated with winter survival."
• Growers should plant wheat at a rate of 18-24 seeds per-foot-of-row. "That's about 1.2 million to 1.6 million seeds per acre in 7.5-inch rows," said Lipps. "You just end up wasting money if you plant any more seed than that."
• Growers should pay close attention to planting depth. Lipps recommends planting seeds at an inch and a half deep. "Heaving is a problem for Ohio growers in the winter and early spring nearly every year. And most of the problem is caused from the seed not being planted deep enough," said Lipps. "Growers like to drive fast. They've got a lot of acreage to plant, but they need to pay attention to how shallow they are planting wheat seed. You can plant wheat too shallow, but I've never seen it planted too deep."
• Maintain fertility levels by applying 20-30 pounds of nitrogen in the fall. Researchers have found that fall nitrogen application pays dividends in yield. "Nitrogen helps get the plants established so you have good tiller development in the fall. Good fall tiller development ensures higher yields," said Lipps. Also, by applying nitrogen in the fall, it's not so critical to make an early spring nitrogen application. Plants can make it until early April when ground conditions are better for the applications."
• Conduct soil tests to determine the appropriate levels of potassium and phosphorus. "Growers should be conducting soils tests now and applying applications over the next couple of weeks," said Lipps.
Producing a good wheat crop may not be hard, but it requires good management.
"The message we want to get across to growers is that there are no big secrets to growing wheat and getting good yields. It's all about timely management and paying attention to details," said Lipps.