Broadcast seeding wheat in wet conditions


As the wet spring continues in Manitoba, growers are looking for ways to get their crops planted as fast as possible.

RealAgriculture agronomist Peter Johnson has been getting plenty of questions on whether broadcast seeding wheat is an alternative for growers as the calendar turns toward June. In this video, he says broadcasting wheat seed is an option and is done in other parts of the world, but notes it is different than broadcasting canola, which is more common in Western Canada.

For starters, wheat, barley, oat, triticale and rye have a different root system than canola or soybean. “With canola, the root goes down and that’s the main root system,” notes Johnson. “With wheat, that initial root goes down but we don’t get the main root system until we get three leaves.”

Canola and flax work best because they hardly need to be buried, although they do require regular rain after seeding. “If you can manage at all, run over the broadcast wheat with some form of tillage,” say Johnson. “We would really like to get that seed buried a little bit so have seed-to-soil contact.”

It’s also important to be mindful of crop insurance requirements. To be insurable, the broadcast crop needs to be incorporated mechanically and “fully establish.” (Story continues after the video.)

Another consideration is seeding rate. Johnson recommends bumping the rate up 25 percent.

When it comes to fertility, growers need to be aware of the implications for low phosphorus soils. In these fields, when broadcasting, “you lose the benefit of banded, seed placed phosphorus. Broadcast takes four times the rate, so focus phosphorus applications on low test soil,” he adds.

Other key points to consider:

  • Nitrogen also requires strategic thinking. Rainfall is needed to get it into the soil, so surface-applied nitrogen may need a stabilizer to avoid loss.
  • Watch herbicides. Most will be fine but there are a few that require separation between the herbicide and the seed.
  • The maturity of the crop will be more variable, so timing of fungicides will be more of a challenge.


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