COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Some wheat varieties grown in Ohio produce as much yield in 15-inch rows as they do in traditional 7.5-inch rows, according to Ohio State University Extension research. This option enables farmers to slim their equipment usage and cut their seeding rates in half, saving them money.
Jim Beuerlein, an OSU Extension agronomist, said that varieties exhibiting tall plant height and a non-erect growth habit are best suited for wide-row production. According to results of the 2007 Ohio Wheat Performance Trials, 22 of the 63 wheat varieties evaluated were suitable for production in 15-inch rows.
"Producers are interested in 15-inch wheat due to the reduced seed cost and because planters can be used for planting instead of a grain drill," said Beuerlein, who also holds a partial research appointment with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. "Planter units typically used for corn and soybeans are more precise in planting wheat at the correct number of seeds and at the proper depth."
Based on the Ohio Wheat Performance Trials, the following varieties performed well in 15-inch row production: AGI 101, AGI 102, AGI 401, AgriPro COKER 9511, AgriPro COKER W1377, Beck 122, Ebberts 570, Ebberts 575, Porter PH46, Public Certified Cecil, Public Certified Freedom, Public Certified Truman, Rupp RS 942, Seed Consultants SC1337, Seed Consultants SC1348, Seed Consultants SC1358, Steyer Fatzinger, Steyer Hammond, Steyer Kenton, Thompson Seed TS8040, Vigoro V9723 and Wellman W132.
"It is very important to select the proper varieties for wide rows because many varieties do not perform well in that production system," said Beuerlein.
Beuerlein said a few varieties identified in the Ohio Wheat Performance Trials are also suitable for modified relay intercropping with soybeans. Modified relay intercropping is the practice of interseeding soybeans into wheat so that two crops are growing in the same field during the crop season.
In a modified relay intercropping system, wheat is planted in slightly wider row spacings -- anywhere from 10 inches to 15 inches apart. Soybeans are then sown into the field about three to four weeks prior to wheat harvest in row spacings that match the wheat. The wheat, when harvested, is cut just above height of the soybean plants in the field.
Beuerlein said that the system increases profitability by better utilizing sunlight energy and soil moisture to produce two crops per year. Additionally, OSU Extension research has found that wheat yields in a modified relay intercropping system can be as high as 90 percent of conventional wheat yields, and soybeans can average 50 percent to 60 percent more than in traditional production system.
Of the 63 wheat varieties evaluated in the Ohio Wheat Performance Trials, four were identified as suitable for modified relay intercropping. They are AgriPro COKER Cooper, Public Certified Hopewell, Seed Consultants SC1347 and Wellman W141.
For wide-row production, wheat should be planted soon after the Hessian fly-safe date. The most profitable seeding rate is 18-25 seeds per-foot-of-row, with an application of 25 pounds of nitrogen at the time of planting.
For more information on wide-row wheat production, log on to the OSU Extension Agronomic Crops Team Web site at http://agcrops.osu.edu.