"We want to make sure we position ourselves to make high yields and high quality wheat," said Lloyd Murdock, UK extension soils specialist.
The high demand for wheat seed is causing supply shortages. Some producers who haven't purchased seed yet are considering planting saved seed. When doing this, it's important for producers to know if the seed they plan to use came from fields that had symptoms of Fusarium head blight, also known as "head scab." Seed harvested from fields with a moderate occurrence of Fusarium head blight often carry the disease-causing fungus Fusarium graminearium, said Don Hershman, UK extension plant pathologist.
Like seeds, some varieties are also limited in supply. Since Fusarium head blight can devastate a crop, producers should try and select a variety with some resistance to the disease. Those who can't should be prepared to apply a fungicide treatment next spring if conditions are favorable for the disease. Producers still making variety decisions may want to consult the results from the latest UK wheat variety trials. The trials include grain yield, test weights, disease ratings and forage and straw yield potential.
In Kentucky, wheat is usually planted between Oct. 10 and 30. For wheat planted after Oct. 30, seeding rates should be increased rather than reduced.
Some producers are considering using a 15-inch-row soybean planter to plant wheat rather than purchasing or contracting a no-till drill which produces 7.5-inch rows. During the past two growing seasons, UK grain crops specialists conducted research trials in Princeton and Lexington to determine whether there was any yield difference between the two row widths. In two of the four trials, the 15-inch rows yielded about 8.5 percent less than the 7.5 inch rows. With prices at $7 a bushel, some producers may want to consider contracting with someone who has a drill rather than trying to convert their soybean planter.
Additional planting information is available in the August 2010 issue of UK's Wheat Science News, UK publication ID-125: Wheat Management in Kentucky or at the local office of the UK Cooperative Extension Service. Producers may also want to plan to attend the UK Wheat Science Group's 2011 Winter Wheat Meeting where specialists will discuss these topics and others. The meeting is set for Jan. 11 at the Christian County Cooperative Extension office.