Unusually dry soil profiles might harm fall wheat growth
Wheat plants also need to acclimate during cool fall weather, so that they can survive winter temperatures. Young wheat seedlings can be harmed by temperatures slightly less than 32°F, but acclimated plants can survive temperatures as cold as 0°F. Plants suffering from even minor drought stress may not be able to prepare for winter, increasing the likelihood of winter kill.
As we learned during the summer, our soils vary widely in their water holding capacity, even within a field. So, variation in wheat plant health will be visible if soil profiles remain dry. Unfortunately, there is little a person can do to rectify the scenario. Conservation tillage increases water infiltration and reduces runoff, and this might lead to deeper water percolation. Managing wheat to reduce soil compaction and produce a healthy root system will enable plants to better withstand short periods of dry weather.