Spring Wheat Production and Management

Field Selection

Select fields with good drainage, sandy loam to heavy clay soil textures. Avoid fields that had cereal crops in the previous year to reduce disease pressure and optimize yields.


Variety Information

Performance Testing 


Variety Performance, Acreage, Seeding Date and Crop Rotation Effects on Yield

Seeding Spring Wheat

Article: Aiming for Higher Wheat Yields



To prevent seed and seedling rots/blight and common bunt, seed should be treated with a fungicide. Consult Manitoba Agriculture's Guide to Field Crop Protection for specific information on individual seed treatments.


May 1 to May 31. Begin to seed as early as possible since delays in seeding may result in lower yields, particularly with Canadian Prairie Spring Red (CPSR) and Canada Prairie Spring White (CPSW) wheats.


1 - 2.6 bu/acre to achieve a plant population of 23-28 plants/ft2.

Seeding rates for spring wheat.

g/1000 kernel
lb/ac bu/ac
Canada Western Red Spring (CWRS) 37 84-120 1.4-2
Canadian Prairie Spring Red (CPSR) and
Canadian Prairie Spring White ( CPSW)
42 90-135 1.5-2.25
Canadian Western Extra Strong (CWES) 42 90-135 1.5-2.25
Canadian Western Amber Durum (CWAD) 48 108-156 1.8-2.6

CPSR, CPSW, CWES and CWAD are sown at higher rates because of larger seed size as compared with CWRS to obtain the same plant stand.

Seeding on the high end of the recommended range reduces the number of tillers and shortens time to maturity. These higher rates should be used when seed size is large, germination is low, seeding is late, abundant moisture, deep seeding, heavy-textured soils, rough seed bed and high weed pressure. Durum wheat should be seeded at the higher rates because of its large seed size.

Seeding Depth

1.5 to 3 inches. Seed should be placed only deep enough to reach moisture. Seed placed deeper than three inches may result in reduced emergence, plant vigour and yields.


Fertilizer Requirements For Spring Wheat

For specific recommendations, have your soil tested. If soil analyses are not available, a general recommendation is as follows:
Nitrogen (N): Apply 0-30 lb/acre N following fallow or legume breaking, 30-55 lb/acre N following grass and grass-legume breaking and 55-90 lb/acre N following stubble. Wheat requires large amounts of nitrogen, and a shortage of nitrogen will significantly reduce yield and make the crop more susceptible to diseases. The primary nitrogen deficiency symptom is leaf yellowing, starting with the older leaves. If nitrogen deficiencies are visible in the field, loss in yield potential has already occurred.
Phosphate (P2O5): Apply phosphate (P2O5) at 30-40 lb/acre. The primary phosphorus deficiency symptom is leaf purpling/browning, starting at the tips of older leaves on seedling wheat.
Potassium (K2O): On sandy-textured or organic soils, apply potassium (K2O) at rates of 15-30 lb/acre. When required, potassium should be placed with the seed. Deficiency symptoms are difficult to detect, but include short internodes and weak stems.
Sulphur (S): Low sulphur levels can occur in any Manitoba soils. When required, apply 15 lb/acre of sulphate sulphur. The primary sulphur deficiency symptom is leaf yellowing, starting with the newest leaves.

Further information on Fertilizer use in Manitoba

Nitrogen Rate Calculator for Wheat, Barley and Canola

Special considerations

Nitrogen Fertilization and Protein Content

High protein Red Spring Wheat can be grown in all areas of Manitoba if sufficient nitrogen is available to the plant from the soil or from nitrogen applied as fertilizer. As the nitrogen supply is increased from low to high, an increase in yield results first, followed by an increase in both yield and protein content. Check grain protein content to determine if wheat was adequately fertilized. If protein content is less than 13.2 to 13.5%, insufficient nitrogen was applied to the crop.

Protein content of wheat can be manipulated through additions of N during the growing season. Consider additional N applications in the following situations: 1) a large expected protein premium or 2) if growing conditions suggest higher yield potential than the original target. N taken up by the plant after the boot stage contributes primarily to increased protein. These applications may be made through topdressing of solid or liquid N forms. Rainfall is required for movement of N to the root system. Liquid N may cause leaf-burn damage and should be applied with caution.


Weed Control

Wheat is a competitive crop that can choke out certain weeds, depending on the relative time of emergence and the weed density.

Weeds can reduce both yield and quality of the crop. Weed seeds that cannot be cleaned out of wheat and therefore are considered foreign matter causing and downgrading are cow cockle, ragweed, tartary buckwheat, vetch, wild oats, corn, peas, volunteer buckwheat and lentils.



Wireworms, grasshoppers, cutworms, armyworms, aphids, wheat stem sawfly, hessian fly, wheat midge and the wheat stem maggot can damage spring wheat. A dual-purpose seed treatment that includes an insecticide should be used if wireworms are expected to be a problem.


Diseases Affecting Spring Wheat

Diseases of economic importance to wheat include loose smut or bunt, ergot, leaf and stem rust, fusarium head blight, tan spot, septoria leaf blotch and glume blotch. Where possible, choose varieties of wheat with resistance to diseases common in your area. The severity of tan spot and septoria leaf blotch can be minimized by avoiding planting wheat on wheat stubble.


Harvesting Spring Wheat


Wheat can be swathed when the kernels have 35 percent moisture or less without loss of yield, bushel weight or quality. Kernels with 35 percent moisture are firm and cannot be crushed with thumb and forefinger.



Wheat kernels with a moisture content of 14 percent can be safely combined without the need for drying. Kernels with a moisture content of 20 percent can be combined and dried without loss of quality.



Wheat is dry and safe for one year’s storage at 14.5 percent.



Moulds and mites tend to be inactive when storage moisture is below 13 percent. If storage temperatures are below 8° C, 3° C and -8° C, insects, moulds and mites, respectively, are inactive


For specific information on:

These and other Manitoba Agriculture publications are available from your local office under the headings: