Winter wheat is the 4th most grown crop in Gage, Jefferson, and Saline counties after corn, soybean, and alfalfa. There was approximately 12,000 acres of wheat grown in 2022 with 4,271 acres in Gage, 5,620 acres in Jefferson, and 2,560 acres in Saline. I discussed winter wheat variety recommendations in my August 30th article that can be read at croptechcafe.org/winter-wheat-variety-selection-fall-2023
There are various reasons you might consider planting winter wheat after corn, soybean, or alfalfa. If you want to rotate out of alfalfa for one year prior to planting alfalfa again, winter wheat is a great option following an August or September terminated alfalfa stand so that alfalfa could be planted again next August. Soybeans as the most common previous crop in southeast Nebraska. There is less risk of Fusarium head blight or head scab planting after soybeans compared to corn. However, yields can be higher growing wheat after corn assuming good no-till drill residue management and if Fusarium head blight is managed between variety selection and a well-timed foliar fungicide during flowering. Local data collected from farmers in southeast Nebraska from 1994-2007 by Paul Hay showed that no-till wheat yields averaged 7 bu/acre higher after corn (48 fields) compared to soybeans (128 fields). Corn and soybean herbicides used should be evaluated for crop rotation interval restrictions to mitigate carryover risk especially in years with a summer drought.
Planting cleaned or certified seed is critical along with using a fungicide seed treatment to control seed-transmitted and soilborne diseases. The average yield response to seed treatments was 1.5 to 3.0 bu/acre based on Kansas and Nebraska data shared at the Southeast Nebraska Alfalfa & Wheat Expo on August 24, 2023 by local experts. View at croptechcafe.org/alfalfawheatexpo
For our area, seeding rates for the target planting window of September 28 to October 10 are 1.2 to 1.35 million seeds per acre. The seeding rate should be increased if planting is delayed into mid to late October to compensate for the likelihood of reduced tillering. You can download my Excel-based wheat seeding rate calculator that compensates for seed size, germination percentage, purity, and planting date at croptechcafe.org/winterwheat or contact me directly for assistance for a recommended seeding rate.
Your drill should be set to hit a target planting depth of 1.5 inches. Seeding shallow (1 inch or less) often leads to winterkill, desiccation, and reduced plant populations. Sharp disc openers, extra dead weight on the drill, and refilling with seed more frequently can help maintain planting depth throughout the field. In some cases, it may be better to wait and plant after a rain versus planting early into dry and hard ground where a consistent planting depth cannot be maintained. Most winter wheat varieties have a coleoptile length that will accommodate planting up to 2.0 inches deep without concern. If you drill is setup for starter fertilizer, use it. Co-mixing seed and dry fertilizer is problematic for drill calibration and the mix can separate during the drilling process. Soil phosphorus management along with broadcast fertilization at planting can help compensate for lack of starter fertilizer.
Learn more about winter wheat management considerations at croptechcafe.org/winterwheat including reading my Winter Wheat Grower’s Quick Guide. For inquiries about these and other agronomy-related information from Nebraska Extension, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-821-1722. Know your crop, know your tech, know your bottom line at croptechcafe.org.