Wheat seed size can range from 11,000 to 18,000 seeds per pound (it should be noted on the tag), so base your seeding rate on the number of seeds (seeds per pound), rather than on the volume or weight of the seeds (bushels per acre).

Using these strategies may reduce your seeding rate by more than 50 percent and/or allow you to plant superior varieties on twice as many acres. Only a few situations justify drilling higher seeding rates than normal (10 to 20 percent), including no-tillage or extremely late plantings, for adequate stand establishment.

Raised beds

Some have asked about broadcast planting on raised beds (primarily to facilitate irrigation of the subsequent double-crop), and this method can be productive, depending primarily upon adequate soil-water drainage. However, the appropriate seeding rate for broadcasting and incorporating seed is considerably higher (40 to 45 seeds per square foot), because emergence success will likely be modest (60 to 70 percent of planted seed).

Growers broadcasting small grain seed on the soil surface should generally utilize very high seeding rates (50 to 60 seeds per square foot), because emergence and seedling survival can be relatively low (around 50 percent of planted seed).

For more information, please refer to Publication 2401 Planting Methods and Seeding Rates for Small Grain Crops.

Weed control

It is essential to kill weeds before planting wheat. A burndown herbicide applied prior to planting and/or before crop emergence is necessary to eliminate weed competition during emergence and early tillering stages, particularly in a no-tillage system.

Tillage may also serve the same purpose in conventionally prepared seedbeds. In fact, tillage may be the most practical option to control volunteer Roundup Ready corn prior to planting wheat.

Maintaining a weed-free environment during planting and stand establishment is essential because weeds are very competitive with young wheat plants, particularly if they emerge before or at a similar time as the wheat crop.

Likewise, don’t fall into the assumption that wheat weed control is easy and can wait until springtime. I believe this is where we often leave a lot of wheat yield potential on the table.

Abundant populations of quick-starting weeds, including henbit and annual bluegrass, may intensely compete with wheat for over 100 days, if left unimpeded until the spring. Of course, ryegrass remains a foremost problem.

I encourage you to use fall-applied herbicides to control these weeds during the fall, if they are thick, because competition will rob valuable nutrients and reduce wheat tillering. Thus, fewer wheat heads will be produced next spring. Fall weed control is particularly important if you are not blessed with an optimal stand.

There are a few herbicide options labeled for either preplant, pre-emergence or early postemergence use on wheat, so if you would like some assistance with these, we would be happy to help. 2,4-D should not be applied early postemergence to wheat in the fall, because wheat is intolerant during seedling and early tillering stages.