March 14, 2019

Start the Spring Wheat Season Strong

By Grant Mehring, WestBred® Technical Product Manager, Northern Region

A season is only as strong as its start, and the new season brings another opportunity to lay the foundation for a successful spring wheat crop. To help growers make the most of their 2019 planting season, I’ve created a simple checklist for North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota spring wheat growers to reference while planting.

1. Variety Selection

_______ Yield Results – Evaluate multi-year and multi-location results to determine which varieties performed best (and where).

_______ Genetics – Genetic advances are continuously occurring from the hard work of wheat breeding programs. It’s important to be aware of these new genetics as they often increase yield potential and other agronomic traits. Planting older genetics might be “tried and true” but can cost you bushels in the long run.

_______ Quality – For Hard Red Spring varieties, protein should be a strong focus. High protein (at least 14 percent) is a standard that grain elevators seek. Protein has functionality for baking and milling, and not all protein is created equal. After selecting for all agronomic traits of interest, then select a variety with better quality characteristics valued by end users.

_______ Disease Resistance – Finding a disease resistance package suited for your area is a “must.” In the Northern region, Yellow (Stripe) Rust, Bacterial Leaf Streak and Fusarium Head Blight (Scab) have impacted wheat fields in recent years. Built-in resistance can help manage these diseases and others that may arise in 2019.


2. Seed Treatments

________ Evaluate Need – Would you plant untreated corn seed for your corn seed investment? If the answer is “no,” then why would you plant untreated wheat seed? Seed treatments are a great tool for keeping diseases and insects at bay during seedling establishment; they help seedlings thrive during cold, wet Northern springs.

________ Identify/Protect – from insects and diseases. Applying seed treatments containing insecticides and fungicides protects seedlings from common diseases like Pythium and root rots and from insects like wireworms.

________ Multiple Modes of Action – I suggest picking a broad-spectrum treatment with multiple modes of action to guard against numerous pathogens and insects and provide longevity and efficacy.


3. Precise Planting

________ Seed Count – Overseeding and underseeding both impact yield potential. Knowing your seed count per pound (for each variety you plant) can help you plant more precisely to prevent these issues and get a desired plant population.

________ Seeding Rate – Planting on pounds per acre is common, but studies show planting by seed count per acre can improve yield/profit potential. WestBred® seed suppliers can provide an Optimal Seeding Rate recommendation that takes seed count into consideration, as well as location, planting date, average rainfall, and knowledge of the seeding rate needs for each individual variety.

It’s too soon to know the challenges Mother Nature may throw at us in 2019, but a checklist approach to these practices will help you get a strong start on your spring wheat, so you can plant with confidence.

For additional tips on starting the 2019 spring wheat season strong, or for help identifying the varieties that best fit your farming operation, visit or email me at