Tips to reduce the risk when seeding winter wheat late

Sep 15, 2008

Proper management can help you grow a successful winter wheat crop. Thanks to Mother Nature, Saskatchewan’s harvest is behind schedule leaving less stubble available to seed winter wheat. While the recommended seeding date for winter wheat is August 20th to September 15th, there are numerous ways you can reduce your risk if seeding the crop late.

Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) has been supporting winter wheat production across the prairies since the early 1990s. Last year, prairie producers planted over 1.5 million acres of winter wheat. Those producers say the potential of this fall seeded crop is still growing. According to Larry Durand, a DUC agrologist in Saskatchewan, if producers are willing to seed late a successful winter wheat crop can still be realized. But proper management techniques must be followed:

  • Seed ASAP – risks increase dramatically beyond Sept. 20th – 25th seeding date.
  • Seed shallow – maximum of 1.0” with 0.5” preferred
  • Seed in good standing stubble
  • Use appropriate levels of seed placed P fertilizer
  • Use high seeding rates (target 30 plants/ft 2 or more which generally corresponds to seeding rates of approx. 120 lbs/ac)
  • Fall and spring weed control is critical including monitoring wild oat populations in spring

With good soil moisture, seeding later than Sept. 15th is less risky as crop should emerge more quickly. However, you still must be aware of the potential risks associated with late seeding:

  • Increased risk of winterkill
  • Yield potential more elastic, i.e. maximum yield can still be achieved but proper management more critical

Crop may be slower to resume growth in the spring which may result in:

  • Increased weed competition
  • Increased risk of wheat midge damage
  • Increased risk of fusarium head blight infection
  • Later harvest than typically expected for winter wheat