Planting Options After Winter Wheat

Planting Options After Winter Wheat

June 19, 2009

Hail has destroyed winter wheat fields in several areas of Nebraska. Recrop options at this time are limited, but there are still a few if growers act quickly.

Planting options during June include:

  • soybeans (not for western Nebraska rainfed),
  • sunflower (short-season hybrids),
  • proso millet, or
  • a summer annual forage such as foxtail millet, pearl millet, sudangrass, or sorghum x sudangrass hybrids.
Table 1. Late spring-seeded crops that may be planted within three months of applying selected winter wheat herbicides.
Herbicide Crop Options
Rotation Interval
2,4-D soybean
7-30 days;
see label for details
Affinity Broadspec soybean
any other crop
7 days
45 days
Aim proso or foxtail millet
forage sorghum, soybean
Harmony Extra All discussed in this article
45 days
Maverick millet, soybean-STS
3 months
Peak proso millet, sorghums
1 month

Check Herbicide Label

Always check rotational restrictions for any herbicide previously applied to your winter wheat (Table 1). Many herbicides used in winter wheat, especially in winter wheat/fallow rotations, have long rotation interval restrictions. Many of the sulfonylurea herbicides have rotation interval restrictions longer than one year. Exceptions include Affinity° BroadSpec and Harmony Extra°.

If herbicide rotation restrictions do not permit seeding a summer crop this year, consider summer fallowing the destroyed wheat field and planting a summer crop in the fields you were planning to summer fallow this year. Because of limited available moisture and the presence of residual herbicide,often reseeding winter wheat into wheat ground that was hailed in summer works best for fall planting.

Cropping Options

Soybeans. See the June 12, 2009 CropWatch article, Assessing Post-Storm Soybean Stands for further information and recommendaitons. Soybeans need water during pod fill, and therefore are not recommended for western Nebraska. Sunflower uses moisture and nutrients from deep in the soil profile, while proso millet and foxtail millet are shallow-rooted.

Sunflower. Used for oil, birdseed, or as a whole seed (confection) for human consumption. The regional demand and marketability for these crops has increased with a birdseed processing plant in Sidney and an oil crushing facility in Goodland, Kansas. High oleic oilseed sunflowers are in demand because the oil is believed to reduce the risk of heart disease. Confection type sunflowers also can be grown with a premium available for quality production; however, these require higher input costs.

Proso Millet. This is another summer annual crop that may fit into the traditional wheat/fallow rotation and is useful in interrupting insect and weed cycles. Proso can be drilled directly into hailed wheat; however, recent studies have shown that proso yields are significantly better if the seed is drilled into fallow ground intended for wheat planting in the fall. Be aware that it may be difficult to effectively kill the damaged wheat crop using glyphosate. Wheat plants must be growing actively for best control with glyphosate and this may require the grower to wait one or two weeks after the hail damage before applying glyphosate.

Dryland Forages. Finally, producers may want to consider growing dryland forages after loss of wheat because of the recent increase in feed costs and demand from the livestock industry. For more information on planting forages after wheat, see these articles in the June 12 issue of CropWatch: Planting Forage after Wheat and Replanting with Forages.

Foxtail cultivars such as white wonder, golden German, and Siberian are well suited to the Panhandle. If you own livestock or market to the livestock industry you also may want to consider pearl millet, sudangrass and sorghum x sudangrass hybrids. These are summer annual forages that can produce a large amount of plant material by effectively using available soil water. As in the case with proso, dryland forages can convert water into plant material very efficiently, making them good choices when replacing wheat in the summer.

Consider Equipment Needs

Consider the availability of appropriate equipment and the potential for herbicide carryover before planting these crops.

  • Proso millet requires a swather and a combine with a pickup head attachment. Using a row spacing narrower than 12 inches with a double disk drill may increase yields, but is optional.
  • Sunflower requires a row crop planter and pans for the combine
  • With foxtail or pearl millet, sundangrass or sorghum x sudangrass hybrids you'll need hay or silage equipment; a double disk drill is optional.

Additional Resources

For more information, check these publications:

Drew Lyon
Extension Dryland Crops Specialist
Robert Klein
Extension Western Nebraska Crops Specialist

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