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Wheat Production in Mississippi

What method should I use to plant wheat or oats?

Proper seedbed preparation helps rapid, successful establishment of small grains. Wheat is often planted in Mississippi for a variety of purposes, including grain production, forage, cover crop, soil stabilization, and wildlife food plots. Thus, planting methods capable of producing an acceptable stand may vary depending upon the specific use, situation and/or equipment availability.

An optimum wheat or oats final stand for grain production in Mississippi is about 1 - 1.3 million plants per acre. The preferred planting method when planting wheat for grain production is to use a grain drill. Grain drills drop seed into a furrow at a specific depth, cover the seed and firmly press moist soil around the seed. Thus, planting with a grain drill should produce good emergence success (80-90%) when environmental conditions are not adverse. Therefore, growers should plant about 1.2 -1.5 million seeds per acre (approximately 75 -125 lbs. of seed/acre) with a grain drill. The optimum seeding depth for small grains is generally 1 to 1.5 inches, depending upon soil moisture availability and soil type. When soil is dry, growers should seed deep enough to contact moisture, without seeding deeper than two inches.

Producers who do not have grain drills may "rough in" small grains by broadcast sowing on recently tilled soil and lightly covering the seed with a disk, harrow, field cultivator or other equipment. Seeding rates should be increased about 25 percent (90-150 lbs. of seed/acre) when utilizing the "rough in" system to compensate for poorer establishment, since seeding depth is random and less mechanical firming of the seed-soil relationship occurs with this method.

Small grains may also be broadcast seeded by aerial or ground equipment on untilled soil. Aerial broadcast seeding is often used when field conditions are too wet to permit tractor operations or when seeding into an unharvested crop. Aerial broadcast seeding is commonly employed for late-planted (wheat planting date guidelines) small grains grown for grain production, since frequent fall rains and subsequent muddy soil conditions may prohibit using tractors and other agricultural equipment. Furthermore, broadcast seeding is often utilized when planting small grains as cover crops or for soil stabilization purposes, as forage crops or for pasture overseeding, and wildlife food plots. Broadcast seeding is often utilized for these purposes, because it does not promote soil erosion, achieved plant density is not critical, and it is economical and does not require specific tillage and planting equipment. Broadcast wheat seeding rates (125 - 210 lbs. of seed/acre) should be increased about 75 percent compared to drilled rates, since surface establishment is extremely dependent upon ambient environmental conditions. Surface establishment may also increase the likelihood of winter injury and inhibit root development, since the growing point will be near the soil surface, rather than below ground.