Comparison of row spacing in wheat in eastern Kansas

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In various regions of eastern Kansas, an increasing number of producers are utilizing planters with row units on 15-inch spacings to plant wheat as an alternative to using drills with 7- to 10-inch spacings. Potential perceived benefits for using planters to sow wheat are: equipment savings, better seed placement, better plant emergence, and a perception that planters can manage the residue more effectively than a drill in no-till conditions.

Research evaluating the effect of sowing wheat with 15-inch planters in no-till conditions was evaluated to improve the management practices with this relatively new method of planting wheat in Kansas. The Kansas Wheat Commission funded this research for the 2011-12 season.

Methods

Wheat plots were sown on Oct. 21, 2010 and Oct. 12, 2011 at the East Central Experiment Field near Ottawa. We sowed wheat in 7-inch row spacings with a Great Plains Solid Stand No-Till Drill and 15-inch row spacing with a Kinze 3000 planter. Other variables included seeding rate (1 and 1.5 million seeds per acre) and herbicide treatment (none vs. a residual sulfonylurea herbicide). All plots received 95 lbs nitrogen (N) per acre in 2011, and 125 lbs N per acre in 2012.

Effect on Weed Densities

In 2011, weed emergence of henbit, Carolina foxtail, and smallflowered bittercress was greater in the 15-inch rows than the 7-inch rows. The increase in emergence in the 15-inch wheat rows is likely because of less shading by the wheat. Seeding rate didn’t affect weed emergence in the drilled wheat. In the 15-inch row plots, more henbit emerged at the seeding rate of 1 million than at 1.5 million. Smallflowered bittercress emergence was greater at the higher seeding rate, however. The row spacing and seeding rate that suppressed the greatest number of weeds from emerging was the 7-inch row spacing at the low seeding rate.

Weed densities on April 7 as affected by wheat row spacing and seeding rate, 2011

East Central Experiment Field

 

 

 

Weed density (plants per sq ft)

Equipment

Row spacing (in.)

Seeding rate (seeds/acre)

Henbit

Carolina foxtail

Smallflowered bittercress

Drill

7

1 million

5.3

4.6

0.1

Drill

7

1.5 million

7.5

7.5

0.3

Planter

15

1 million

14.2

11.6

4.2

Planter

15

1.5 million

10.1

13.9

6.5

LSD (0.05)

 

 

4.0

3.8

2.3

A similar general pattern was seen in 2012, with greater weed emergence with wheat in wider rows. Henbit emergence was about 3.5 times higher in wider rows vs. narrower rows. Common chickweed emergence was also significantly inhibited by wheat shading in the narrow 7-inch vs. 15-inch rows. Seeding rates had no effect.

Weed densities on March 26 as affected by wheat row spacing, 2012

East Central Experiment Field

 

 

Weed density (plants per sq. ft.)

Equipment

Row spacing (in.)

Henbit

Chickweed

Drill

7

6.8

0.4

Planter

15

23.9

2.2

LSD (0.05)

 

4.4

1.4

Effect on Yields

Seeding rate had no effect on wheat yield in either 2011 or 2012. Row spacing did have an effect. In 2011, wheat in narrow 7-inch rows yielded 14.2 bu/acre more than in wide 15-inch rows, averaged over seeding rates and herbicide treatments. In 2012, wheat in 7-inch rows had a yield advantage of 18.2 bushels per acre over 15-inch rows.

In the 15-inch rows, the spacing was too wide to maximize yields both years. This is likely too much yield reduction to make up for any perceived benefits from planting wheat with a 15-inch planter compared to a more conventional no-till drill on narrower spacings.

Effect of row spacing on yield of wheat: East Central Experiment Field

 

 

Yield (bushels/acre)

Equipment

Row spacing

Year

Yield (bu/acre)

Drill

7

2011

47.6

Planter

15

2011

33.4

Drill

7

2012

51.6

Planter

15

2012

33.4


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