Dry Weather Delays Wheat Planting

In its Oct. 5 Crop Progress and Condition Report, USDA said the Missouri corn harvest is 67 percent complete, compared to just 42 percent this time last year. The state’s soybean harvest, at 17 percent complete, outpaces last year’s harvest by nine percentage points. In a normal year, this would be good news for those planting wheat in harvested fields.

But not this year, says Greg Luce, adjunct professor in the University of Missouri Division of Plant Sciences.

“Farmers have an old saying: ‘Plant in the dust and the bins will bust.’ That’s pushing it this year,” Luce says.

Lack of precipitation throws a curve into wheat planting because the seeds won’t germinate without enough moisture. Small rains might wet the soil where the seed is planted, but not where roots grow. Newly sprouted seeds could die if they don’t get enough rain, says Luce.

Wheat can be planted through the end of October in most of the state, and well into November in southern Missouri, he says. Producers should increase seeding rates 10 to 15 percent on late-planted wheat.

Luce gives tips for wheat planting:

  • Use no-till or reduced till to save water in soils. No-till is preferred.
  • Plant in a good, firm seedbed if tillage is used.
  • Reduce water evaporation by leaving surface residue on fields.
  • Stay within an ideal planting depth of 1-1.5 inches and no more than 2 inches. “As dry as it is, chasing moisture with drill depth may be nearly impossible to accomplish,” Luce says.
  • An increased seeding rate due to low moisture can provide a higher effective head number.

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Source: University of Missouri 

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