Fall Seeding of Winter Cereals - Frequently Asked Questions

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 When is the best time to seed fall/winter cereals?
  • If the crop is to be used for fall grazing it should be seeded by mid- August. For grain production the seeding dates will differ, depending on the crop and where you are seeding. Winter triticale should be seeded during the last week in August or the first week in September. Optimal seeding dates for winter wheat in central Alberta are between September 1 and 10. In the north, winter wheat should be seeded before September 10, and in the south, it should be seeded before September 15. Fall rye may be a little more forgiving than other winter cereals and may be seeded a little later into September.
  • Seeding dates may differ throughout the province but the key to winter survival stays the same. You want the plant to be in the 3-5 leaf stage going into the winter. Seeding too early will promote excessive growth by winter, which can increase the risk for winter injury. The larger plants may also be more at risk for snow mold. Seeding too late will produce a plant that is too small going into winter and has a higher risk of winter kill.
What depth do I seed my winter cereals at?
  • ¾ of an inch to an inch is as deep as you want to seed winter cereals. Seeding deeper can delay emergence and decrease the chance of winter survival.
  • It is also important the soil is well packed around the seed for adequate seed to soil contact. This helps to keep the much needed fall moisture for germination.
What are the fertilizer recommendations for winter cereals?
  • Fertilization is important for the growth of winter cereals, especially N and P. Rates depend on soil tests but if soil tests aren’t available then follow general recommendations. 20-25 lbs P can be seeded in the seed row in the fall. N can be side banded at seeding as long as the seeding depth is not compromised. Otherwise, N can be broadcast in the spring in about mid April. Winter cereals need nitrogen and it is important that spring application happens at the proper time for it to be used by the crop. Spring application is most effective if applied at tillering to early stem elongation. Keep in mind that urea broadcast in the spring onto warm dry soils may be lost through volatilization.
What kind of residue/seedbed should I be seeding into?
  • Winter cereals need to be seeded into standing stubble. Summer fallow, pea and bean stubble will not trap enough snow to have adequate snow cover. Cereal and canola stubble work well. Stubble should be tall enough to trap snow.
  • Chaff should be spread evenly in the field to minimize emergence problems.
  • Perennial weeds should be controlled before seeding winter cereals.
Can I use winter wheat that I have harvested this year to seed this fall?
  • Yes, there is no dormancy period needed for winter wheat to germinate.
Winter Cereal Production-U of S
Winter Wheat Production and Management-Manitoba Agriculture and Food
Fall Rye Production

Prepared by Ag-Info Centre, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development

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For more information about the content of this document, contact Mark Cutts.
This document is maintained by Mary Ann Nelson.
This information published to the web on September 4, 2003.
Last Reviewed/Revised on September 4, 2018.