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Last Updated 07/21/2021 09:53:42 AM

Winter Cropping, Row Spacing, DoubleCropping.
More Grain and Less Straw.

Productive soils are held in place with No-tillage systems....and the Margin is improved.
Exactrix Wittman Plots....Hard Red Winter Wheat. 
Winter Cropping, Relay Intercropping, Winter Canola, Winter Rape, Winter Barley, Winter Triticale, and perennial crops.
Accepting more net dollars with annual cropping of winter crops in 20 inch or 30 inch rows with less straw.
Lower average annual yields may produce more net dollars than two year fallow average yields.
The greatest net dollars generated in the dryland PNW is accomplished with perennial and winter crops.
       Paired row 8/22  Winter Wheat and Winter Barley.
     Double. Average row spacing 15" Paired row 8/22
                                           Winter Barley Sunstar Pride and Sunstar


World famous plant breeder Dr. Orville Vogel at WSU, 1962 released  short statured semi-dwarf wheats such as Gaines and Nu-Gaines. The varieties improved soft white winter wheat yields 30% to 50% because there was more grain and less straw.  Norman Bourlaug engineered the Green Revolution and WSU provided high yielding short statured wheats that were used by Norman Bourlaug to fulfill the dream of feeding a hungry planet. The goal of WSU breeders was less straw and more grain, reduced lodging and better yields.

A private plant breeder at Aberdeen, Idaho, Don Sunderland developed high yielding winter barley that is short statured and allows yields in the 250 bushel range with Sun-Star Pride and Sun Star Double. The crop is well accepted under wheel line irrigation with virtually no lodging. Plant breeders constantly review their lines and determine the best grain and straw ratios. Bigger heads, less straw and stiff straw results from years of work.

A combined total of 350 years of experience of winter wheat production is being combined into a new thought process.
Wayne McProud, an outstanding private plant breeder in the PNW, is working with Dick Lloyd of Lewiston, Idaho to develop a new plot drill.
Wayne's discovery is similar to Bob Stewart's discovery at Bushland, Texas raising dry land Milo at 3,000 feet and higher.
Wayne McProud's discovery....Winter Wheat planted in hills of 30 seeds with a 24 inch spacing to the next hill produces 25% to 30% better yields in dry land wheat production.
Bob Stewart's discovery is similar with dry land Milo planted in clumps.  Milo will produce better yields all the way 6,000 pounds per acre...up to 25% better yields in dry land when planted in clumps. Milo planted at higher moisture such as irrigation has a reduced yield potential.  The yield is reduced a small amount when yields go above 6,000 pounds per acre. Testing has been carried out at Tribune, KS and Bushland, Texas.
Robert Papendick and Jim Cook of the USDA-ARS, Pullman, Washington also discovered that Soft White Winter Wheat seeded in September at Lind, Washington would produce the same yields on 7 inch, 14 inch, and 21 inch spacing....at 28 inch spacing the yields dropped about 3%.....providing that weed control was good. 
Papendick and Cook's work was never published but mentioned in Steep II publications. A 7 inch double disc drill was used and the seed row seed rate was held constant by blanking the seed runs in four different spacing's.  However, weed control and a good fall start was the key to produce the same yields. In row seed rates were not increased as the drill was blanked for each spacing. Fall tillering was key. Fall tillering may not be required in annual cropping with high seed population in a single row.
Today it may be possible to raise dry land Soft White Winter Wheat on 20 inch and 30 inch spacing.  Combining the discoveries of several scientists.


         Wide seed row spacing at paired row 8/22
         with soy bean relay intercrop on 30" rows.
Hard white winter wheat, General Mills New Horizon.
No-till pioneer, Mort Swanson produced several good winter wheat crops in the higher 21" Palouse rainfall. Mort seeded winter wheat on 18 inch spacing using the drill "Old Yeller" which was the precursor drill to the Yielder Pioneer drills.  Mort's discovery with 18 inch spacing was more grain and less straw. Weed control was actually better because of the herbicide coverage and access to the competing weeds.
            Sunstar Pride Winter Barley, paired row 8/22.
             T- 3, T-4 and T-5 reduce yields and quality.
Smaller heads of Hard White Winter Wheat allows T-1 and T-2   tillers to fully fill the head.
Yielder drills are spaced at paired row, 5/15 and 4/16 to produce good winter wheat yields. Off row light effect and open canopy results in more light and less foliar disease problems. The edge row light effect produces gigantic wheat heads with Stephens Soft White Winter Wheat.



The King of Winter Wheat....The highest dry land yields in the world are produced with the Yielder drills....165 bushels per acre of Soft White Winter Wheat in field wide averages in Washington, Idaho and Oregon. With yield monitors topping 210 plus bushel per acre at some field locations.  Offset Leading Double Disc openers meter seed right at the opener allowing the seeds to be delivered to exact population. As the Yielder drill seeds at high speed the openers meter the seed inside the offset leading disc opener to produce even spacing of the seed in a very narrow band at precision depth. The deep bands of nutrients are concentrated on 20 inch centers providing critical mass for N,P and S efficiency and root pattern geometry. The 5/15 paired rows of openers meter the seed which is aligned on both side of the 20 inch deep band. The band and row alignment remains constant at 2.5 inches to side of the deep band on all slope angles. The seed is trapped in the turning blades allowing seed to be delivered evenly on very steep slopes. Paired Row was invented by Yielder Pioneer personnel in 1982. Yielder Paired Row resulted from an accidental opener setup mistake in 1980. The Swanson seed metering opener was invented in 1974 and patented in 1977. The Yielder drill is designed to deliver 40 to 50 years of service using stainless steel construction and 24 inch blade diameters.
It is apparent that at some point the root pattern geometry and the soil moisture harvesting capability of winter wheat begins to diminish.  That root pattern dimension for harvesting soil stored moisture appears to occur between 21 and 28 inch spacing.
The limitations of dry land winter wheat....below 18 inch rainfall is soil stored moisture. Following the rule.....4 inches of soil stored moisture is required to propagate the winter wheat plant and 7 bushels per inch of stored soil moisture will produce the yield level is 98 bushels per acre at maximum efficiency.  It maybe that the rule is changed as new winter wheat root geometries are discovered. It is estimated that 95% of all the dry land winter wheat produced falls below 18 inches of soil stored moisture.

                                                                                                                                                              Relay Intercrop PDF


It is known that dry land winter wheat producers and raising too much straw....wasting seed, valuable light, and soil moisture trying to produce a winter wheat crop on narrow seed row spacing....Producers think that weed control would be better with narrow seed row spacing.  Seed may be expensive enough that other weed control means should be employed. Heavy stubble may reduce conservation efforts promoting tillage and plowing. Thus heavy field residue promotes field burning and residue harvesting in
Two proposals for dry land winter wheat producers should be considered in 20 to 98 bushel per acre production scenarios.
Winter Wheat can be row cropped on 20 inch and 30 inch spacing to improve yields and provide more options. More Grain and less straw will result.
1. Two bands of nutrients on 15 inch band centers should be dedicated to each 30 inch rows.  The bands are crowded toward the seed row and located 2 inches to the side of each seed row.  Possibly one of the two bands should be set further away on the opposite side of the seed row about 4 inches to allow the wheat plant to access the opposing band latter in the season. An accessible target for early emergence and a delayed band target for secondary root access and 2nd pair seminal root access.
2. Reverse Paired Row would result with two bands for each seed row.  N and P costs would be reduced...in fact efficiency of placed nutrient products would exceed previous expectations. Band stability would result on 20 inch and 30 inch spacing using TAPPS.  However, a single 20 inch or 30 inch band per each seed row may produce the best results due to machinery cost and nutrient performance.
3. The 20 inch and 30 inch opener spacing would allow seed to be crowded very closely at .25 to .5 inch seed spacing in tight seed rows preventing tillering and allowing the strongest roots to supply moisture to the main T-1 and T-2 stems and roots. Never forgetting that 70% of the winter wheat raised in the state of Washington is seeded on 16 inch and 18 inch seed row spacing.
                                                                                                   Seeding to Population with higher seed costs.
4. Thus producers could seed to population on 20 inch and 30 inch seed rows by avoiding the tillering with tight seed rows using time proven offset leading double disc openers or Deere 1890 openers.  Seed is delivered and metered into to seed row widths on no greater than 3/8" wide. Precision seed placement for winter wheat is just the opposite of fanning or ribbon seeding techniques utilized on air seeders to promote tillering in spring wheat. The climatology of the summer rainfall with artic front, rainfed moisture drives opener design. Landscape, soil type, depth of soil, rainfall pattern, rainfall amounts and rotation drive the opener design.
The ideal in row seed spacing is 18 to 21 kernels in alignment and spaced 5/8" to 3/4" apart in the row length to allow the seedling wheat team of emerging plants to work together to produce good yields.  Therefore it is important to look at your 20 year rainfall average and the period of rainfall. Then the proper row spacing can be determined to match the soil stored moisture. Populations of 2.1 million is acceptable if moisture is not limiting. Refer to the plant breeder and ask how many kernels are maximum in T-1 and T-2. They will be impressed with your ability to seed to population to maximize the variety. The plant requires 4 inches of soil moisture to propagate and each 1 inch after the first 4 inches equals 7 bushels of yield.  A 10 inch drill will requires 14.4 inches of travel to equal one square foot or 25.2 seeds in the travel distance. The result is 1,117,872 seeds per acre.
A bushel and a peck....as your granddad said...that is the seed rate....not quite true since wheat can vary from 8,000 to 16,000 seeds per pounds.  Soft White Winter Wheat at 8,600 kernels per pound requires 129.98 pounds per acre or 2 bushel and a peck. HRRW at 15,000 kernels per pound requires 74.52 pounds or 1.25 bushels. 7.5 inch spacing is multiplied by 1.33 for the correct seed rate. 12 inch spacing is divided by .833 for the correct seed rate.
A plant population of 1.2 million covers rainfall levels from 18 to 14 inch of soil stored moisture on 10 inch spacing. Below 14 inch rainfall consider 12 inch and 15 inch spacing. 20 inch and 30 inch spacing is simply the same as 10 inch spacing since the goal is to crowd the seed even closer to spacing's of 3/8' to 1/4". Crowding seed will force the plant to produce two good tillers and provide off row light effect to the growing crop.
Seeding with a 7.5 inch drill is acceptable under two conditions flax is in rotation or it is desirable to raise straw. Grazing of cattle on winter wheat in soils with low soil stored moisture may not be economical considering the current price of wheat.  Winter Wheat for grazing can be very significantly advanced with TAPPS formulation and good fall start on 10 inch row spacing. 
Special Note and of great concern.
Machine opener spacing and opener selection along with machine width is often dictated by the machinery dealer based on what is available. The machine salesman sells from a catalog of what might be right...and not what is right.  Independent agronomists, custom seeders, plant breeders, and ag engineers should be consulted and not the machinery dealer.  
Be aware, the machinery dealer is not an agronomist nor is he able compute the need. Machinery sales personnel are more concerned about the trade-in than the correct selection of the new tool.  Inventory is the problem...move the inventory.
The literature may tell one story. How the machine and opener works on your soils is not in the literature. To try out a new machine or seeding tool use a custom seeder that is experienced with the machine. Spend time in the field and learn exactly why the custom seeding machine or the new tool might be the right tool. Never purchase a machine until you understand the pro's and con's.  Landscape, Rotation, Rainfall and Rainfall pattern...soil type and soil depth plays a big role in the proper machine selection.


Fanning or ribbon seeding produces extra tillers that reduce plant efficiency and result in reduced yield and quality in the Winter Rainfall pattern of the dry western conditions. Virtually no exportable grain was found in 60% of the heads. T-1 and T-2 produce yield and quality. T -3, T-4, & T-5 reduce
yields and quality. Commonly referred to as "Sucker Heads".
The stubble shows the ribbon or fanning seed delivery pattern that allows the plant to tiller.  More straw and less exportable grain results.
Reviewing the lower sucker T-3,T-4 and T-5 heads and the
upright T-1 and T-2 higher heads which are not dropped
indicating low test weight, incomplete filling and poor quality.
Drooping heads mean good yields and quality with heads filled to the top.


Fanning or ribbon seeding on 12" band centers results in a beautiful canopy and reduced yields and quality. At Lewiston, Idaho, June 16, 06 this DNSW field showed 70 bushel per acre yield potential with the fanning opener on the right...At harvest the yield was cut in half at 38 bushels per acre. Virtually no berries were found in T-3, T-4 and T-5. Wasted energy and wasted water with improper opener selection for the rainfall pattern.   The seeding opener spreads the seed in wide seeding
bands allowing the plant to tiller.
The opener was designed for the Summer Rainfall pattern.
This opener can not seed to population. The plant breeder designed the spring wheat plant not to tiller to assure high
quality grain with a good yield.  Plant breeders are aware of the tillering problem but  they seem to be unable to express the importance of 2 to 3 tillers is required to produce quality wheat crops.


A broad pattern of seed appears to be more appropriate for production of spring wheat east of the Continental Divide. The summer rainfall pattern supplies rain fed moisture as tillers 3, 4 and 5 fill the heads at a much lower priority.  A wide seed spread is produced with sweep seeding openers. The wide seed pattern allows more seed row starter dry fertilizer to be used. The wide seed pattern allows each plant to tiller and act as an individual plant.  Producers cannot seed to population with this opener. The E-Sweep opener is an excellent opener design if moisture is available  when the low priority extra tillers, T-3 to T-5, need rain fed moisture to fill the heads. The opener is designed for the summer rainfall. This opener should be avoided in drier western climates.
Single disc openers control the seed into very narrow bands of seed.  This allows the placed seeds to emerge more evenly. A uniform seed row population and spacing is produced reducing tillering. Team play with each plant results and each plant works together to reduce tillering.  This is an ideal opener in winter wheat production.


Deere 1890 CCS drills produce superior yields with Exactrix wing injection formulating TAPPS. Depth control is superior resulting in competitive stands of winter wheat. More moisture is conserved. From Texas, up the Great Plains to the Pacific Northwest. The Deere 1890 CCS drill continues to build an excellent reputation in 10" row spacing with experienced producers making adjustments based on conditions. Seed is delivered at a constant depth in a tight row configuration of 3/4 inch width. Producers can seed to population with this unique 1890 opener. Under heavy residue loads the opener performs well with careful attention to each opener.
5. Wide 20 inch and 30 inch seed rows reduce chemical use. Fungicides can be targeted on the rows of wheat and better coverage results with costs reduced 50%. Fungicides are difficult to apply effectively in solid canopy designs since the lower leaves and heads are difficult to target. Multiple head spray tips can penetrate the row crop wheat from all three sides of the 20 inch and 30 inch row. From the top to the sides the fungicides can be applied with much higher coverage in a limited area.
6. Herbicides will penetrate and target weeds located between the wide 20 inch and 30 inch rows.  Such materials as IPC and Sevin or Chemhoe could be utilized in a 10 inch wide strip between the rows. Sprayers can be modified to band spray which allows the row area to avoided and weeds to be targeted.
7. Wide 20 inch and 30 inch seed rows can expanded or reduced depending on soil types to produce a moisture laden chemfallow strip which would allow continuous winter wheat to be produced.  In fact it maybe better to give back 10% of the yield potential to establish the winter wheat crop with a mid-row chemical fallow technique. Not all the soil moisture should be harvested in low rainfall areas which allows for annual cropping to be implemented. A 3 inch to 5 inch band of soil is at rest and holding moisture for the fall start of canola or winter wheat.
8. The Matrix Potential of the soil moisture must be determined along with the exploratory nature of the variety of winter wheat. Once the soil Matrix Potential is determined the seed row width can be determined. The purpose of the chemfallow strip is to reserve bank of moisture to establish the next crop.  In other words less straw and more grain and potential to annual crop with very little yield compromise. More grain in two years as compared to chemfallow winter wheat.  Maximum grain and minimum straw allows better returns, faster harvest and more net dollars. The seed row width is determined by the soil, the rainfall pattern and the variety selected.

Matrix potential of the soil visually explained.  At some band width the moisture remains close to the soil surface and is not harvested by the growing crop. 

No-till, Standing Stubble, the Dynamic snow catch, retrieving snow from plowed ground in an adjoining field. Even and uniform distribution of soil moisture with snow trapping using No-till standing stubble. Plowed soils have 4 inches less soil stored moisture as a result with heavy snow catch in draws and no snow depth on knolls creating a highly variable distribution of winter moisture.

9. Wide 20 inch and  30 inch rows of winter wheat may allow winter canola to be established in the summer months at the center between the 20 inch and 30 inch rows. The system of Relay Intercropping could have profound effects on soil quality and increasing overall yields of winter wheat and winter canola in at least 2 years or rotation.  The advantages of seeding in 30 inch rows would allow equipment to proceed into the growing crop without damaging the growing crop.
10. A Relay Intercrop system was explained and discussed at WSU in 2002 and 2003. The plan was to build a seeding and banding machine on 20 inch and 30 inch centers to raise two winter crops in two years in the low and mid rainfall.  Although the machine was never built the system appears to have even greater potential due to higher energy costs and the need for Bio-Diesel. Pictures of such a system and drill are included below.
11. Allowing Rotational Band Loading by seeding back on top of last years stubble in a suitable plant environment allowing snow trapping and reducing winter kill crop damage.

Both photos below taken on the same day in adjoining fields at Quinter, KS.

Great Plains snow trap, standing stubble. Great Plains, deep furrow winter wheat field with no snow trap
Machinery Required.
1. High Clearance Sprayer to reduce chemical costs and less crop damage.
2. Relay Intercrop Drill and nutrient banding tool to reduce nutrient costs and allow for precision seed and nutrient placement at critical seeding depths.
3. A belted or wheel tractor on 120 inch centers utilizing RTK or high quality guidance.
4. Combine Threshers with tires set on 120 and 180 gauge lines at typical 30 foot header widths to spread residue evenly.
5. Bank out wagons on 180 gauge lines.
Research Required.
1. Yields in 20, 24, 30 and 36 inch rows.
2. Seed rates in 1 foot of row width at 18,24,36,48, and 60 seeds.
3. Soil Matrix Potential of the chemfallow band and germinating moisture in 24,30,36 and 42 inch spacings would determine the average band width of fallow moisture.
4. Plant breeders need to help select varieties that do not tiller profusely and waste energy.


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