The best time to plant wheat in most NC counties is from late September through the first week in November with October being the best month. Unfortunately, this is a busy time of year as soybeans and cotton harvest tend to monopolize our time. Ideally, by Thanksgiving all of your wheat acres should be in the ground. Those who wait until December can get good yields but ultimately they are taking a gamble and would have better results with timely planting.
Using a drill is the best way to plant wheat. It allows for an even distribution of seed, more accurate plant populations and good seed to soil contact ensuring even and proper germination. Your drill should be calibrated for correct wheat plant populations.
As the wheat planting season draws to a close, many growers will switch from planting with a drill to using a broadcast fertilizer spreader so they can cover more acres. Yes, broadcasting is cheaper and faster, and if done properly it can be effective. Usually those who are successful do a light tillage operation following the broadcast to improve seed to soil contact, and it’s done before soil temperatures start to fall.
Planting late, in and of itself, can cause yield losses because you don’t have enough time to develop those 4-6 tillers you need for high yielding wheat. A whopping 85% of the yield comes from those tillers. Broadcasting, and especially broadcasting late, compounds your yield losses. Broadcasting limits seed to soil contact even with a light disking and leaves seed exposed to cool/cold air. Drilling puts the seed deeper into warmer soil with moisture most of the time. Seed close to the surface tends to dry out, slowing germination.
Another drawback to broadcasting wheat seed is weed control. Drilled wheat has higher populations and quicker germination that reduce weed competition. Broadcast wheat tends to have reduced wheat populations and slower germination, allowing weeds to germinate and compete with the crop very early. Weeds rob your soil of nitrogen and other nutrients that you just applied for the wheat crop.
Whether you drill or broadcast, always use a seed treatment, especially if you are planting late and more importantly if you are broadcasting late. Coastal’s Pro-Shield seed treatment boosts yields by improving seed germination, root development and early season tiller development. If you are using “bin run” seed, contact your local Coastal AgroBusiness representative, and then take it to the location and have them treat it with our Pro-Shield seed treatment.
Information provided by Coastal AgroBusiness, Inc.
Originally posted on November 18, 2014.