Tillage/Land Preparation

Tiller Counts

A rule of 50 tillers per ft2 is sometimes used to decide whether to make an early or “split” N application in late January. A goal of 50 tillers per ft2 is seldom a problem for November planted wheat in the S. C. coastal plain. Even if we get less than half a stand (10 plants per row ft out of 21 seed per row ft on 7” rows), it only takes a main stem and two tillers (3 stems) per plant to exceed 50 tillers per ft2. Multiply the stems per row ft X 1.7 to get stems per ft2 on 7” rows (multiply stem count X 2 on 6” rows).

Land Preparation

Broadcast deep tillage is a key to high yield wheat in the S. C. coastal plain.  Breaking the hardpan improves winter drainage and allows roots to reach nutrients and water held by the subsoil.  Chiselplows often can’t reach hardpan. A Terramax or Paratill provides near broadcast deep tillage; Vripper with 20" spacing is another option. Ripping between previous subsoil furrows after corn harvest is efficient and results in a firmer seedbed when done in advance. A firm seedbed is needed to control planting depth. Deep-tillage implements can also be used with a roller to firm and level the seedbed. Deep tillage operations are more effective when soils are dry.