October 15 is wheat insurance deadline

Farm Forum

BROOKINGS, S.D. – Recent rain and snow across much of South Dakota have improved the prospects of planting winter wheat in some of the dry areas, but will also delay planting in fields yet to be seeded.

In South Dakota, the recommended time to plant winter wheat is Sept. 15 through Oct. 10. The October 15 deadline to receive full crop insurance coverage and winterkill protection provides incentive to get fields planted by that date, said Bob Fanning, SDSU Plant Pathology Field Specialist.

“Producers can still purchase crop insurance on fields planted after Oct. 15, but will sacrifice 1 percent of coverage for each day after that date, up to 25 days. All fields planted after Oct. 15 are ineligible for winterkill protection,” he said.

He added that although there are good reasons for the Sept. 15 to Oct. 10 planting date recommendations, winter wheat planted after Oct. 10, or Oct. 15 can still raise a respectable crop.

“The primary disadvantages to planting late are that the plants are typically behind in development going into the winter and slower getting going in the spring, which leads to delayed maturity compared to earlier planted wheat,” Fanning said. “That delay can shorten the grain fill period, and often results in the plants being subjected to moisture and heat stress during this stage.”

Date-of-planting studies have shown that late planted winter wheat can produce just over 20 percent less than wheat planted at the ideal time,” he said. “Late planting also presents higher risk of winterkill and erosion, particularly when not seeding into protective cover.”

Late planting management strategies

There are management strategies you can use to help compensate for planting late, Fanning said.

“Use narrow row spacing if you have the equipment. If not, try to rent or hire equipment from someone who does. Ten inches or wider would be considered wide spacing. If wider spacing is your only option, increase the seeding rate by 1.5 times,” he said.

When using narrow row spacing, he said to also increase the seeding rate.

“While 960,000 to 1.2 million pure live seeds per acre is the recommended seeding rate when planting during the recommended time, raising that to 1.6 million seeds per acre or even higher is suggested when planting late,” he said.

Planting depth of 1 to 1.5 inches is recommended, as both shallow and deep planted wheat is more susceptible to winterkill.

He said to plant into fields with protective cover, especially when planting later than the recommended dates apply phosphorus with the seed. Apply 20 pounds per acre of phosphorus if soil test levels indicate none is needed. When recommendations are provided from soil testing, add an additional 20 pounds per acre to recommendations. Phosphorus promotes root growth and improves winter survival. Plant certified disease-free, treated seed.

“A final suggestion would be to plant an early maturing variety with favorable agronomic characteristics and good yield potential,” he said.

Fanning directs growers to iGrow.org where they can find maturity, winter survival ratings and yield for most varieties planted in South Dakota in the 2013 winter wheat variety trial results (http://igrow.org/agronomy/wheat/winter-wheat-variety-trial-results/).

If winter wheat planting gets delayed past Nov. 1, Fanning said producers should consider waiting until spring to plant spring wheat, or consider dormant planting spring wheat.

“Late planted winter wheat often matures later and yields less than dormant or early planted spring wheat,” Fanning said. “True dormant planting occurs when the seed is planted just before the ground freezes. Spring wheat that is properly dormant planted will lie in the soil as hard seed until the soil warms enough in the spring to begin germination, approximately 34-37 degrees F.”

For more information, obtain a copy of “iGrow Wheat: Best Management Practices for Wheat Production”: http://igrow.org/product/igrow-wheat-best-management-practices-for-wheat-production/.