Wheat School: Broadcasting winter wheat into soybeans

Grower Mark Davis harvested 161 bu/ac in this field where wheat was broadcast into standing soybeans

It hurts RealAgriculture agronomist Peter Johnson to talk about broadcasting winter wheat seed into standing soybeans, but growers have been peppering him with questions about the practice.

Johnson would rather see growers plant wheat with a drill but with many Ontario soybean fields “green as grass” as the calendar turns to September, in some areas of the province, growers will have to consider the practice. With slow-to-mature soybeans, growers in shorter-season areas could run out of growing season if they wait to plant wheat after soybean harvest.

On this episode of the RealAgriculture Wheat School, Johnson shares how Napanee farmer Mark Davis harvested 161 bu/ac after broadcasting wheat into soybeans on his farm in 2022. “It can work,” says Johnson but there are some rules growers need to follow.

For starters, seed should be broadcast before leaf drop. Johnson also recommends growers use treated seed because he worries about the the possibility of bunt diseases in the wheat.

“It’s important to have no leaves on the ground because when seed drops onto yellow leaves that have fallen it’s not in contact with the soil.” Johnson stresses that if it’s a dry fall that seed won’t germinate and “the air reel on the combine can blow it into the header and we get treated seed in the soybean sample. That’s not acceptable.” (Story continues after the video.)

Growers also need to consider seeding rate. “I generally say 25 per cent above standard, so somewhere between 2 and 2.5 million seeds per acre is where we want to be,” Johnson says.

He also recommends selecting a variety with good standability and focusing on fields with a good soil test. “We know that if I have a five for phosphorus and I try to grow wheat without starter phosphorus, I can give up 30 bushels per acre. On the other hand, if I have an 18 or 20 for phosphorus, I give up three bushels.”

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