Assessing Estimated Winter Wheat Yield Potential

by Ron F. Meyer, Area Agronomy Extension Agent, from the  May 2011 Golden Plains Ag Newsletter

Now that the area’s winter wheat has had an opportunity to green up this spring, producers will be assessing their stands to see whether the crop should stay, be replaced with another crop or if the field should be fallowed and planted back to wheat in the fall. The sooner the assessment is made the better, since the wheat will be using valuable soil moisture each day it is growing.

One way to estimate wheat yield potential is to use the table below. A general rule is that every plant has approximately five heads and each head averages about 22 seeds. Late planted wheat and wheat seeds that do not germinate until later because of dry conditions, will tiller less and hence have fewer heads. For this example, we assume an average of 16,000 seeds per pound.

To use the table count the number of plants per foot of row (use at least five feet of row) in at least five sites within the field and calculate the average number of plants per foot of row. If the stands are uneven, for example the stand is better or worse in the wheel tracks, make sure your percentage of samples in these areas are the same as the portion of the area they make up in the field.

Next, find your row spacing and the average number of plants/foot of row in the table. This is just an estimate of yield potential, assuming the plants are healthy, moisture is adequate, and weed control and fertility meet crop requirements.
Winterkill can be a very localized event, so select sample areas carefully and don’t try to extrapolate results too widely. If winterkill is a problem, carefully consider your alternatives and visit with the appropriate agencies before destroying your crop.

Click [download id=”314″] for table with estimates.

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