Many Wheat Varieties Thrive In The Wide-Open Spacings

Using less no-till wheat seed per acre is the real key.

No-Tillers who relay intercrop soybeans and wheat can choose from an array of wheat varieties that perform well in wider-row spacing, saving on equipment and seed costs.

Wheat row spacing normally is 7 1/2-inches wide, says Ohio State University agronomist Jim Beuerlein. But in studies conducted by Beuerlein and Purdue University agronomist Tony Vyn, certain wheat varieties performed just as well when the no-till row spacing was widened to 15 inches. About two dozen wheat varieties were analyzed for their performance in Ohio and Indiana.

Wider Row Benefits

“The purpose of making the rows wider than normal is for the machinery to get through, so you can get more light coming down into the canopy to help the soybeans grow,” Beuerlein says.

Beuerlein and Vyn grew wheat varieties in both 7 1/2- and 15-inch row spacings. They compared yield, test weight and a variety of agronomic characteristics such as height and heading date.

The two researchers found that wheat varieties that perform well in wide rows:

  • Tend to be either tall by nature or grow tall because of favorable weather.
  • Exhibit a non-erect growth habit that compensates for wheat plant skips in the row or a low plant population.

Less Wheat Seed Needed

The research showed that wheat normally grown in 15-inch rows produces 5 percent to 15 percent less yield than wheat grown in 7 1/2-inch rows. Yet the lower yield from wide rows is partially offset by reduced seed costs, Beuerlein says.

“So, for example, if a 7…

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Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has served as editor of No-Till Farmer since the publication was launched in November of 1972. Raised on a six-generation Michigan Centennial Farm, he has spent his entire career in agricultural journalism. Lessiter is a dairy science graduate from Michigan State University.

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