Wheat emergence : a key stage in vegetation cycle

Wheat emergence is a crucial stage for crop potential determination. Indeed, number of plants per square meter is one part of yield components.

Wheat emergence is the initial growth phase after sowing, where seeds germinate, and seedlings emerge from the ground. Monitoring wheat emergence is necessary to ensure yield crop potential. It should be done between 7 and 14 days after sowing, depending on the region and climatic conditions.

Monitor wheat density during emergence

A low wheat density at emergence can indicate a sowing problem and a risk of yield loss. Number of plants should be at least 80 plants per square meter in deep soils and 150 plants per square meter in shallow soils. If This Is not the case, it is necessary to consider reseeding. It’s then interesting to consider seed variable rate to place a relevant number of seeds according to soil potential, especially in heterogeneous fields.

Monitor seedling vigor at emergence

It’s important to check seedlings size and color after germination. Healthy seedlings are vigorous and green. If seedlings are weak, pale, or show signs of stress, it may indicate a lack of nitrogen. Fertilization may be insufficient or inadequate, but it may also be due to unfavorable environmental conditions. Germination monitoring and location of these weak plants can help next nitrogen variable rate application to optimize seedling growth according to their needs.

Germination: a crucial time for pests and diseases detection

After germination, it’s time to signs of disease or pests. Weakened seedlings are more susceptible to be attacked by pathogens or pests. Early diagnosis allow quick intervention. In addition to technician or expert advice, it may be wise to use digital disease recognition tools to determine seedlings' issues and act accordingly.

Germination, a vegetative stage of the wheat cycle

Seeding wheat period usually start beginning of October. When seeds come into contact with soil moisture they can germinate. Then seedling appears quickly: this is the emergence of the wheat. At the end of winter, tillering stage begins. Plant branches and first stems emerge. During spring, they lengthen and straighten (heading). In summer, plant completes its vegetative period and begins its reproductive cycle. Ears emerge from their sheaths (ear emergence). After flowering and then fertilization, grains fill up until wheat reaches maturity. It’s time to harvest.

Modulate seeding density for a uniform emergence

Quality of emergence is a key factor for crop success. To achieve the most homogeneous emergence possible in a field and to secure the yield component per square meter, it is relevant to implement a modulation of wheat sowings. Several strategies can be implemented:

  • In areas with a high risk of seedling loss (clods/stones), sowing density must be increased. Objective is to compensate potential losses due to clods or stones, and optimize yield. It’s necessary to favor varieties with a strong tillering ability, or hybrids.
  • In areas with low available water (AW), such as dry soils, it’s recommended to reduce seeding density. It’s a way to limit risk of water stress and grain scorching during grain filling. Hybrids are a good choice for these areas, as they are well-adapted to water stress. Lines that require few ears to express their maximum yield potential can also be chosen.
  • In areas with high potential (deep clay loam, medium to deep silty clay...), two strategies are possible. On one hand, increasing density to optimize yield potential with strong tillering variety’s ability. On the other hand, decreasing density, in particular to limit risk of lodging and foliar diseases, by choosing varieties with good kernel weight and good ear fertility.

Thanks to vegetation index (NDVI) maps that show intra-field variability, you can see the state of your crops at a glance. This allows you to act in a targeted manner, whether for sowing, fertilization, crop protection, or irrigation.

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To go further:

  • Chambre d’agriculture Centre-Val-de-Loire : Agriculture de précision, essai double modulation en blé
  • Chambre d’agriculture Hauts-de-France : blé tendre d’hiver, modulation de semis
  • Arvalis « Blé tendre : apporter l’azote à la reprise de végétation »

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