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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Planting Wheat on Wheat Increases Disease Pressure

September 6, 2006

WOOSTER, Ohio -- Ohio growers should avoid planting a new wheat crop into the previous season's wheat residue, despite the possibility of later-than-normal planting due to lagging development of the soybean crop in some locations.

Pierce Paul, an Ohio State University plant pathologist with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, said that planting wheat on wheat increases the potential for diseases and problems associated with the Hessian fly.

"Late-planted wheat can result in poor stand establishment and increase winter kill. Some growers had to deal with this problem last year and may be facing late wheat plantings again this year because of the current growth stage of the soybean crop. These growers may be considering planting wheat into the wheat fields they just harvested," said Paul, who also holds a partial Ohio State University Extension appointment. "This practice is a no-no."

The most common recommendation is to plant wheat following soybeans because of the few disease problems associated with this production combo. On the other hand, planting wheat following wheat or corn can create a myriad of problems because like plants attract like diseases.

"If you look at the names of some of these pathogens, like Fusarium graminearum (the fungus that causes head scab), loosely translated it means Fusarium of the grasses. And wheat and corn are in the grass family. So some of the same set of organisms that can affect wheat, can also affect corn, and vice versa," said Paul.

Paul said that for the few growers in Ohio who practice back-to-back wheat, diseases such as Cephalosporium stripe and Take-all root rot have been evident. Additionally, leaf diseases such as Stagonospora, Septoria and head scab all become more prevalent.

"If one plants wheat after wheat and the fungus has already been established, you increase your chances of having disease problems, and with Cephalosporium stripe, root wounds caused by repeated freezing and thawing conditions in winter allows the fungus to enter the plant," said Paul. "Whether trying to avoid planting late or just planting early to increase chances of better yields, growers should not plant wheat after wheat. There are generally fewer pest and disease problems with wheat after soybeans and growers should stick to that."

Wheat is generally planted after the Hessian Fly-safe date to avoid insect and disease problems. This date varies between Sept. 22 for northern counties to Oct. 5 for southern counties.

To learn more about preparing for this year's wheat crop, log on to

Candace Pollock
Pierce Paul