By Greg Roth, Agronomist
The first step is to do an enterprise budget and see how wheat compares to some other crop options for next year. You can use our crop budget templates to help guide you in this process. In some work I have done, it looks like wheat may offer some profit potential at current grain and straw prices, but its best to do this on your own operation to decide how much wheat to plant this year.
This year there was some frustration about falling numbers in wheat and the marketability of the crop. This was mostly due to the wet conditions near harvest and that was somewhat unusual. Often low falling numbers is not a problem with our soft red winter wheat.
A key factor to be thinking about now is the variety to grow. A high-yielding line with some resistance to scab is ideal. Often by September the best varieties are getting hard to find. You can review our performance data on our 2015 winter wheat variety evaluation data on our small grain management site.
Remember that varieties that are within one LSD of the top variety are not significantly different, so don’t just focus on the top of the list. Seedsmen can add their experience to your variety decision as well and can target varieties for specific fields. Remember that bearded lines are critical if deer are a problem.
This year there will be some opportunities to plant earlier than normal with the soybeans maturing early in some areas. Resist the temptation to plant too far ahead of the Hessian Fly Free date for your area, but at the same time, strive to get most wheat planted within 2 weeks after that, if possible. This will help to avoid some of the early planting issues, but also result in good tiller development in the fall.
With the wet weather at harvest this year, it might be a good idea to check the germination of your seed and adjust seeding rates accordingly. If you are planting high-quality certified seed, this should not be an issue.
A final concern I have this year might be for wheat following corn or corn silage. If corn fields showed a lot of nitrogen (N) deficiency, wheat might respond to some fall N applications. Bob Kratochvil from the University of Maryland showed recently that wheat is more likely to respond to fall N under these conditions when soil nitrates were less than 10 ppm in the top 6 inches.