Think About Ordering Wheat Early

Southern Plains growers affected by freeze looking north for seed.

Published on: Aug 7, 2007

Nebraska wheat growers ought to think about contacting their seed dealers soon to ensure they can get the varieties they want.

There have been reports of Nebraska wheat seed dealers getting order inquiries from areas south of the state, particularly in Kansas where spring freeze damage occurred and low-test-weight wheat is arriving at elevators, according to CropWatch, the University of Nebraska's weekly electronic newsletter.

"There is no simple answer to this question," says Jim Shroyer, Kansas State University Extension crop production specialist. "Producers who want to plant back some wheat they harvested from this year's crop should have it cleaned out to a test weight of at least 56 pounds per bushel if possible. Wheat with a lower test weight may have a good germination test, and may even emerge just fine, but will often have lower vigor and yield potential than wheat with a higher test weight."

Shroyer adds, "When there is stress on the seedlings or young plants in the fall from freeze or drought or some other factor, the effect of higher test weight seed is often greatest."

Kansas State University has conducted research on the effect of seed test weight on germination, field emergence and ultimate yield and test weight of the subsequent crop. The studies show:

  • Test weight had no effect on germination.
  • Higher test weight seed had a 20 to 40% improved field emergence.
  • Higher test weight seed emerged four to six days sooner.
  • Higher test weight seed resulted in about a 2- to 5-bushel yield increase.
  • The test weight of the seed had not effect on the final test weight of the subsequent crop.

Shriveled seed, even when it has a fairly high germination percentage, is likely to produce weak sprouts and plants that do not have enough vigor to survive unfavorable conditions, Shroyer says.

Producers planting low-test weight seed also need be cautious not to plant the seed too deep, he adds.