As growers make preparations for planting wheat this fall, we would like to remind them of a few management decisions that are important for a successful crop. Nearly every farm in Ohio has a field or two that could benefit from planting wheat, if for no other reason than to help reduce problems associated with continuous planting of soybeans and corn. Consistent high yields can be achieved by following a few important management guidelines. Listed below are the most important management decisions that Ohio wheat producers need to make at fall planting time to produce a crop with satisfactory economic returns.
Variety and seed selection
Select high-yielding varieties with high test weight, good straw strength and adequate disease resistance. Do not jeopardize your investment by planting poor quality seeds or by planting anything but the best yielding varieties that also have resistance to the important diseases in your area. Depending on your area of the state, you may need good resistance to powdery mildew, Stagonospora leaf blotch, head scab, and/or leaf rust.
Plant healthy, wholesome, clean (remove shriveled kernels), and disease-free seeds, and make sure that the entire seed lot is treated, whether or not the seeds appear to be diseased. In Ohio, seed-borne wheat diseases such as common bunt and loose smut are rarely ever major concerns because growers routinely plant seeds treated with fungicides. Problems with these diseases usually appear in isolated areas where poorly treated, bin run seeds are planted. Seed treatments can play an important role in achieving uniform seedling emergence and giving seedlings a good head start under certain conditions. In addition, the selective use of seed treatments can protect seeds or seedlings from early-season diseases. More information on seed treatments can be found on the field crops disease website: http://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/ohiofieldcropdisease/.
Avoid varieties with susceptibility to Fusarium head scab. Unlike foliar diseases that are relatively easy to effectively control with a single foliar fungicide application, fungicide alone will not provide adequate control of head scab and vomitoxin if the variety if highly susceptible. Fungicide application at flowering must be combined with variety resistance to achieve the best results in terms of scab and vomitoxin reduction. Therefore one of the very first, and probably the most important, step in a scab management plan is variety selection. In the past, producers have been reluctant to plant scab resistant varieties because some of the varieties did not yield as well as some of the more susceptible varieties. However, we now have scab resistant varieties with very good yield potential to choose from. A list of these varieties can be found in the 2011 Ohio Wheat Performance Trial (http://oardc.osu.edu/wheattrials).