One of the important factors in the survival and productivity of wheat is proper seeding depth. If the wheat is planted at the optimum depth, the crown will form at the desired depth of about a half-inch. If the wheat is planted too shallowly, the crown will end up closer to the soil surface than you’d like. If the crown is near the soil surface, or is in open air or surrounded with residue instead of in firm soil, it will be more susceptible to cold injury or desiccation.

The photo above shows what can happen when soils are very hard, dry, and compacted. In this case, the wheat was planted late, no-tilled into soybean residue. The drill could not penetrate the soil well. As a result, the seed ended up much too close to the soil surface -- much of it about a quarter-inch or less. Some of the seed is even lying on top of the soil, as is the case in the photo below. The seedling formed in this case has fallen over.

Shallow seeding of wheat into hard soilsWheat in this situation is more apt to suffer damage during the winter under normal conditions. If it gets enough moisture, however, that would help its ability to develop roots and increase its chances for survival.