Evaluate Wheat for Winter Injury

Trenton Stanger, WestBred Regional Business Manager, Northwest South Region

Snow and adequate moisture are important for plants surviving winter temperatures. However, winter weather is rarely ideal. Plan now to make plant stand evaluations after winter to make appropriate decisions once the crop is growing again.

Plant Health — Plants with a strong crown and roots can develop new growth early in the season.

  • Dig up several plants and dissect crowns to observe crown and root strength.
  • Healthy roots should be white, without any dark or soft spots.
  • Healthy crowns should be white to light green.

Stand Evaluations — Focus on plant populations and plant strength.

  • Conduct stand counts after wheat are green and growing.

  • Count plants in a 3-foot distance, and repeat in several locations throughout the field.

  • Determine the average number of plants for 3 feet of row.

  • Multiply the number by 4 and divide by the row width inches to determine an average number of plants/ft2.

  • Optimum plant stands for optimal yield potential = 23 to 30-plus plants/ft2.

  • Terminating a winter wheat crop and replanting to spring wheat or another crop could be warranted if plant health is poor (dead crowns) and plant stands are fewer than five to 10 plants per square foot.

Making these assessments about the crop after winter can help with the next management steps needed to get your wheat crop off to a good start.

For additional information, contact
Trenton Stanger, WestBred® Wheat Regional Business Manager, Northwest South Region, at 530-681-8288 or trenton.stanger@bayer.com. 


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