UNL Extension’s CropWatch newsletter has featured several wheat articles from Bob Klein, UNL Extension Cropping Systems Specialist and other Extension faculty. Since they’re on several different CropWatch release dates, I decided to put all the info. in one place for you. Hope this helps!
For those who have waited to plant winter wheat, Bob Klein, UNL Extension Cropping Systems Specialist, says to increase wheat seeding rate 10-15 lbs per acre (150,000-225,000 seeds/acre) per week for every week delayed after the seeding rate for our area. Hessian fly free seeding dates range from September 25 for most of our area to September 28 in southern Nuckolls and most of Thayer Co.
For no-till, he recommends automatically increasing seeding rate an additional 50%. So if you’re a dryland no-till producer planting in October, he would recommend seeding 90 lbs to 120 lbs maximum of wheat seed. For irrigated wheat, start at at least 90 lbs/ac and increase 15-20 lbs/acre every week later than suggested seeding date but don’t exceed a maximum of 180 lbs/acre of seed.
A review of seedling rates vs. yield potential: On the average, there are 22 seeds per head and 5 heads per plant, or 110 seeds per plant. With an average seed size of 15,000 seeds per pound or 900,000 seeds per bushel, a pound of average-sized seed with 80 percent germination and emergence has a yield potential of approximately 1.5 bushels per acre. Seeding 40 lb of seed with a weight of 15,000 seed per pound has a yield potential of 60 bushels per acre.
Paul Jasa, UNL Extension Engineer says to make sure the drill is running lower in back than normal. Transfer more drill weight to the back of the drill and add extra weight to the drill. This will allow for penetration into dry, hard soil, forcing the seed into the soil and insuring seed-to-soil contact. Also, don’t seed wheat too shallow. When using disc drills, plant at a depth of 2 inches or more.
- Fertilizer Options for Dryland Wheat: Is Wait and See a Good Option?
- Grasshopper Management Considerations in Emergent Winter Wheat
- Use of Seed Treatment Fungicides to Improve Wheat
- Guides to Winter Wheat Variety Selection
- How Wheat Seeding Date Affects Yields
- Assessing Winter Wheat Stands and Estimating Yield Potential
Numerous calls have come in on the wheat ergot situation. It must have been the perfect environmental conditions for this to happen this year in such a wide area and I need to take some time to figure out why this year during conditions that also favored scab and not a few years ago with similar environmental conditions.
Two main questions have been raised: “Can I save back seed” and “can I bale and graze straw?”. I don’t recommend that you save back seed, yet many seed fields in the area most likely were affected as well. Seed can be sifted on a gravity table to help clean it so that is an option-but most farmers don’t have means for doing this so ultimately I wouldn’t recommend our farmers to save back seed.
In regards to baling straw and grazing, while walking harvested fields, I was noticing some ergot in heads that were too short to go through the combine heads. Ultimately, the few kernels in a large amount of straw would be so dilute, I wouldn’t expect there to be problems with grazing the straw. If you’re concerned about using wheat straw for feeding or bedding, you can always dilute it with alfalfa or another feed to reduce chances of ergotism in livestock even further. I should point out that I’m talking about wheat straw in which the wheat grain has been harvested. I would not recommend feeding wheat straw that was just cut with the ergot contaminated and wheat grain in tact. If you plan to feed straw in that situation, I’d recommend sending samples to a Vet Diagnostic Center for alkaloid testing.
A third question I’ll throw in here is should you plant 2nd year wheat if that is your rotation. While it is not assumed that ergot will happen every year and while the chances of ergot happening a second year are not great, it’s best management practices to go ahead and rotate to be on the safe side as any sclerotia (black fungal ergot fruiting bodies) would be lying on the soil surface and can produce spores that could affect the next wheat crop. Again, this isn’t guaranteed to be a problem again next year (unlike things such as tan spot or septoria that are likely to show up in wheat on wheat fields), but to be on the safe side, I would recommend rotating. Dr. Stephen Wegulo also wrote an article on ergot in wheat at the following site.