As the summer months wind down, wheat farmers start gearing up for planting season. Getting a good stand of wheat during the optimum time in the fall is an important first step in getting good yields, said Jim Shroyer, K-State crop production specialist.

"Often, problems with plant growth and development later in the year can be traced back to poor emergence or inadequate root growth and tiller development in the fall and early winter," Shroyer said.

He described important steps producers can take to improve their chances of getting a good stand of wheat:

* Proper tractor speed. It is best to use a tractor speed of between 5 and 6 miles per hour in most cases when drilling wheat.

* Proper, uniform seeding depth. The ideal planting depth for wheat in most cases is about 1.5 inches.

* Firm seedbed. One of the most common problems in wheat stand establishment is planting into loose, fluffy soils. Having a good closing system behind the drill openers, with adequate down pressure, should help.

* Plant during the optimum time. In general, wheat should be planted somewhere around the Hessian fly-free date.

* Adequate soil fertility. In general, producers should apply at least part of their nitrogen needs before or at planting time to get the plants off to a strong start. If the soil is low or very low in phosphorus or potassium, these nutrients should be applied at planting time as well so that the plants benefit early in their development.

* Using a seed treatment. Fungicide seed treatments may help with stand establishment in certain situations, such as when seed may be infected with loose smut, common bunt, or Fusarium scab. Insecticide seed treatments may be needed for control of soil insects. Under certain conditions, producers may want to use the higher rates of insecticide seed treatments for fall control or suppression of greenbugs and Hessian fly.

* Make adjustments for planting into row crop stubble. When planting wheat into grain sorghum stubble, producers will need an extra 30 pounds of nitrogen (N) per acre over their normal N rate. If the wheat is being planted no-till after row crop harvest, N rates should be increased by 20 pounds N per acre over the normal N rate. Seeding rates should be increased when planting wheat late after row crop harvest. It´s best to use a seeding rate of 90 to 120 pounds per acre in central and eastern Kansas, and 75 to 100 pounds per acre in western Kansas. When planting more than three weeks after the Hessian fly-free date, producers should use a seeding rate of 120 pounds per acre.

More information is available at county and district K-State Research and Extension offices, and in the "Wheat Production Handbook," K-State publication C-529, on the Web: http://www.oznet.ksu.edu/library/crpsl2/c529.pdf.