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Agronomic Crops Network

Ohio State University Extension


Winter Wheat Update

Due to late planting and wet weather, winter wheat in some areas of the state has not yet emerged. In Ohio, we do not have first-hand experience with this situation. Further west (Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Kansas), there have been reports of winter wheat emerging extremely late due to dry soil conditions. A winter wheat planting date study in Kansas found a 43 to 59% reduction in grain yield when winter wheat was planted in January and February compared to October. This yield reduction was associated with reduced tillering (reduced number of heads) per plant.

Will the sprouted, but not yet emerged wheat vernalize? Yes. Anything that is sprouted will vernalize. However, the root system will be minimal and heaving may be a problem. Additionally, the extremely wet conditions, leaving fields saturated with water, may result in plant death.

What can we expect in Ohio? We are not exactly sure. We do know wheat yields are greater for earlier planting (emergence) dates. However, we also know wheat plants can compensate for poor stands with plumper kernels. The outcome will likely depend on the weather for the remainder of the winter and spring.

What can be done? Wheat stands should be evaluated at Feekes 5 growth stage (leaf sheaths strongly erect). The number of wheat stems (main stem + tillers) can be used to estimate wheat grain yield (see table below). Keep in mind, right now, there are no management strategies to improve your wheat stand. A winter application of nitrogen fertilizer will not help.

Estimated grain yield (bu/acre)

Stem number (number/foot of row)
















Crop Observation and Recommendation Network

C.O.R.N. Newsletter is a summary of crop observations, related information, and appropriate recommendations for Ohio crop producers and industry. C.O.R.N. Newsletter is produced by the Ohio State University Extension Agronomy Team, state specialists at The Ohio State University and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC). C.O.R.N. Newsletter questions are directed to Extension and OARDC state specialists and associates at Ohio State.