For most areas of Kentucky, this spring and summer has been unseasonably wet and cool and we are looking at a late corn crop.

Since April, rainfall across the state has been almost 6 inches above normal and the daily high temperatures have been almost two degrees cooler than normal.

These conditions delayed corn planting. This year on May 19 only 56 percent of the corn was planted as compared to 75 percent for the five-year average.

This means a delayed harvest. As of Sept. 1 only 1 percent of the corn crop was harvested as compared to 12 percent for the five-year average.

Wheat producers need to be prepared for delayed plantings this year due to delayed corn planting, development and harvest.

 

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To attain maximum yield potential the University of Kentucky recommends planting wheat between Oct. 10 and Oct.30. If wheat planting is delayed, yield potential can be reduced due to decreased fall tillering, cold injury, and heaving (uplifting of plant and root systems from the soil due to freezing and thawing of the soil).

If wheat planting must be delayed this year due to late corn harvest and/or adverse weather conditions, consider increasing seeding rates.

For each two week delay in wheat planting, past Oct. 30, increase seeding rates by two to three seeds per square foot (one to two seeds per linear foot of row). Increasing seeding rates will likely compensate for reduced fall tillering of late planted wheat and increase yields of late planted wheat.

The soil condition of wheat fields is also of great concern this year. Unseasonably wet conditions this year likely eliminated any nitrogen carryover from the corn crop.

Consider applying 20 to 40 pounds of nitrogen per acre at or near planting, particularly if wheat planting occurs after the first week of November and is following corn.

Soil compaction is another concern. Many producers ‘mudded in’ corn fields this year. This will result in soil compaction problems. If wet conditions are also present at corn harvest soil compaction will be worsened.

Soil compaction reduces wheat yield potential. Therefore, scout fields early and be prepared to correct any soil compaction problems that are detected.

Additional considerations for a timely and effective wheat planting season is even distribution of corn residue throughout the field in no-till systems. This will ensure that seeds are drilled to the proper depth of 1 to 1.5 inches, which will reduce risks of cold injury and heaving.

Because of very little time that will likely be available between corn harvest and wheat planting consider calibrating wheat drills now before corn harvest begins. With thoughtful planning the potential wheat yield reduction due to late plantings can be minimized.

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