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Right time to plant wheat is after Hessian Fly free date
Ohio Farm News
By Steve Bartels

The wheat-planting season will begin here in Butler County in a little over a month. Wheat should not be planted before the Hessian Fly free date, which is October 1. This will ensure you don’t encounter any problems with the insect pest. If you plant too early, you run the risk of the wheat getting too much fall growth allowing disease to build in the crop. The best time to plant wheat is 5 to 10 days after the fly free date.

We have had a couple of good years for yield the past two years, with yields of more than 100 bushels per acre reported. Jim Turner of the Ross area reported he had just more than 101 bushels per acre the past summer. To get this kind of yield with wheat, you need to intensively manage the crop. Variety selection would be the first step.

Select high-yielding varieties with good test weight, straw strength and disease resistance. Since no single variety is equally resistant to all diseases, select those that are resistant to the disease most damaging and common in your crop in the past.

When choosing between varieties with moderate resistance to wheat scab, and those with resistance to foliar diseases, give first preference to wheat scab resistance. In any given year, scab may result in more yield and quality losses that any other disease.

Management options for scab are limited and fungicides are not very effective. Foliar diseases can be managed successfully with fungicides. For a list of wheat varieties and their disease resistance and agronomic trails, refer to the 2006 Wheat Performance Trial ( You can also get a copy from us, your local OSU Extension Office.

Plant seeds that have been properly cleaned to remove shriveled kernels and treat all seeds with a fungicide to control soil- and seed-borne diseases. Due to rain-related harvest delay, sprouting occurred in some locations. Since sprouting affects seed viability and vigor, growers are advised against planting seeds harvested from fields with sprouting problems. If it is absolutely necessary to plant seeds from such fields, make sure you do a germination test.

Plant seeds at a rate of 1.2 to 1.6 million seeds per acre. For drills with 7.5 inch row spacing, this is about 18 to 24 seeds per foot of row with normal sized seed. Plant seed 1.5 inches deep and make sure planting depth is uniform across the field. No-till wheat into soybean stubble is ideal, but make sure the soybean residue is uniformly spread over the surface of the ground.

Shallow planting is the main cause of low tiller numbers and poor over-winter survival due to heaving and freezing injury.

Apply 20 to 30 lbs. of actual nitrogen per acre at planting to promote fall tiller development. Wheat also requires at least 45 ppm of available phosphorus per acre in the soil to produce really good grain yields.

If the soil test indicates less than 40 ppm, then apply 80 to 100 pounds of P2O5 at planting. Soil potassium should be maintained at levels of 135, 165 and 185 ppm for soils with cation exchange capacities for 10, 20, or 30, respectively. If potassium levels are low, apply 60 to 100 pounds of K2O at planting. In Ohio, limed soils usually have adequate calcium, magnesium and sulfur for wheat. Soil pH should be between 6.0 and 7.0 for western Ohio.

This farm news was published in the Sept. 6, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.