County Ag News

Successful Winter Wheat Production


Including winter wheat in a farm cropping rotation is an option more producers are looking at. Dairy producers are looking at the inclusion of winter wheat in a crop rotation as a way to provide an additional option for manure application. 

Winter wheat is usually harvested by the end of July which opens that field up to be used for manure application during the month of August which is usually one of the dryer months of the year. The ground is dry which reduces the potential for compaction and it is at a time of the year without seasonal road weight restrictions. 

University research has shown that corn and soybean yields will increase when wheat is included in the crop rotation. Seed selection should be certified seed that has been germination tested. The University of Wisconsin winter wheat variety trials determine yield of about 60 public and private varieties of winter wheat at four locations in Wisconsin every year. Choose a variety that has the highest yield in the two-year mean. If you plan on planting saved seed because certified seed is not available, it is critical to clean the seed and do a germination test. 

Seed cleaning will remove weed seeds, thrash, small and, broken seeds. Seed size is also important in determining seed quality. Kernels should be large and dense and the thousand kernel weight should be over 30 grams. Larger kernels will have increased fall tillering and increased seedling vigor. Both of which are especially important with late-planted wheat. 

Several fungicides are labeled for seed treatment on winter wheat. UW-Extension Publication A3646, Pest Management in Wisconsin Field Crops, lists the fungicides available for treating wheat seed. Planting depth should be approximately 1 inch. Row spacing should be 7 inches or less. The seeding rate should be between 1,300,000 and 1,600,000 seeds per acre. 

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