Now that the hot summer days are over, it’s about time to think about planting your winter wheat. There are a few very important things to remember when planting in the fall to insure a good harvest.
Planting early insures that the wheat will be able to take advantage of the warmer growing temperatures, and mature enough to withstand winter weather. This will lead to much more growth potential in the spring. But you also don’t want to plant way too early; the wheat might get big enough to be vulnerable to winter damage. Depending on the climate in your neck of the woods, you might need to plant as early as the beginning of September, or as late as mid-November.
By this time of year, the soil moisture in the fields is pretty low. Make sure to seed shallow so that the wheat can easily soak up the fall rain it can get. Studies have shown that even a third of an inch of rain can be enough to get this plant settled in for the winter. If you seed too deep, you run the risk of it taking too long to come up, and also getting a spindly plant that won’t be able to put up with winter weather. It’s best to aim for about ½ to 1 inch deep.
The rate you should be seeding at depends on many factors, such as soil content, seed size, and growing conditions. Planting seeds at a higher rate creates a solid, consistent stand, which helps to protect it from winter damage. It’s especially important to seed heavy in high moisture areas to discourage mold growth. The plants are also more competitive, easily crowding out weeds in the spring. This all contributes to a higher crop yield.