Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest With wet weather harvest delays, deep discounts on delivery and low yield at the end, wheat had a rough year. Are there reasons we should still grow wheat?Crop rotation — wheat adds a third crop to our rotation. Generally we get a 10% yield bump to the next crop in the rotation. And with a three-crop rotation we reduce disease and insect pressure for all crops.Wheat can be a good cover crop. We can plant it after soybean harvest, unlike other cover crops. We can even plant it after corn, but be aware that Fusarium head blight will likely be worse if you are planning on grain harvest. Wheat, like oats and cereal rye will help hold onto nitrates. If we want we can graze wheat, or if we get a good stand and have good prospects, we can keep it to harvest as grain. This may be our perfect cover crop. Production possibilities for wheatPlanting date — Fly free date in Ohio is also our agronomic trigger for the best planting dates. From recent experience we probably want to plant within a week to 10 days after the date. Long-term data says we should get about the same yield if we plant in the 14-day window following fly free. Fly free dates in Ohio range from Sept. 22 in northern Oho to Oct. 5 at Southpoint.We can reduce the chance of nutrient movement by applying the fertilizer in the spring into the growing crop. If, for example, we need 90 pounds of P2O5, we also get 20 to 35 pounds of N along with that (assuming MAP 11-52-0 or DAP 18-46-0). This puts on the N when we need it in the spring and gives us a growing crop to apply phosphorus.Variety selection — get good genetics with excellent disease resistance. Pierce Paul, our OSU wheat and corn pathologist, says that to reduce the threat of Fusarium head blight and to get good yields, choose a variety with high resistance to head blight and plan to apply a fungicide if conditions require.Row width — we have possibilities. Using a drill we can plant at six to 10 inches. And many of us have our split row soybean planters – on 15-inch rows. It gets a cover out there and doesn’t take too large of a yield hit.What will 15-inch row wheat yield? Because some Ohio wheat producers are interested in growing soft red winter wheat in 15-inch rows to utilize a more precise planting implement, we can reduce equipment inventory, Modify Relay Intercrop (MRI) soybeans into wheat, sow cover crops, establish a forage crop, and/or reduce seed costs.Wheat yield in a 15-inch row is important in evaluating a row spacing change.Research done by Beuerlein and Minyo in 2008 in Ohio with three wheat trials found 7.5 inch row spacing to out yield 15-inch row spacing by about 7.2 % or 6.6 bushels per acre (bushel per acre).In 2009 and 2010, Lee and Herbek, of the University of Kentucky, grew three varieties of wheat at two locations in 15-inch and 7.5-inch rows. Varieties tested were known to be prolific (varieties produce a lot of tillers). Yields ranged from 70 to just over 120 bushel per acre. In two of the environments, there were no differences in yield between 15-inch and 7.5-inch rows. In the other two environments, wheat yields in 15-inch rows were about 8.5% less than wheat yields in 7.5-inch rows.Johnson, in 2006 and 2007, examined wheat yield in 7.5 and 15-inch row wheat in Ontario. Wheat yields were reduced from 5 to 8 percent when wheat rows were widened.In Ohio selected wheat varieties have been evaluated over yield in 15-inch rows. In 2014, at the OARDC Wooster site, 25 varieties averaged 109 bushels per acre with a range from 115.5 to 101.4 bu/ac. Two year tests of 14 varieties gave an average yield over all varieties of 100.3 bu/ac and a range of 103.7 to 96.1 bu/ac.In summary, where row comparisons were made over row spacing; wide row wheat averaged about 7.4 percent less than narrow wheat for the varieties selected. However, the data would suggest the wide row yield effect is also influenced by variety and site. Seed costs may be reduced when going to a wide row. Long term data from Steve Prochaska and Jason Hartschuh at OSU’s Crawford County farm show a 16 year average yield of 75 bushels per acre for wheat and 31 bushels per are soybeans in their MRI work — not bad for two crops in one year. A Factsheet on MRI is available here: http://ohioline.osu.edu/agf-fact/pdf/0504.pdf.