Partial vernalization of winter wheat and triticale

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Occasionally you might see a few winter wheat or winter triticale plants that head out in the fall. Obviously this is not the norm, but it’s not unheard of either.

When this happens, it doesn’t mean that the variety has a significant amount of spring wheat or spring triticale in its pedigree. A few plants of winter species may head out in the fall as daylengths become shorter if the plants emerged unusually early.

Winter wheat and winter triticale need to be vernalized for all the plants to head. This is complete vernalization, and occurs after the soil temperature had been about 48 degrees F for 4 to 6 weeks. This varies some by variety.

Short daylengths can trigger partial vernalization in these crops, as well. In this case, a few plants may head in the fall, even though soil temperatures have not yet been cold enough to trigger complete vernalization.

It is more common to see partial vernalization in stands of volunteer than in planted crops. Volunteer winter wheat or winter triticale can easily have a few plants that head in the fall due to partial vernalization, especially if the volunteer came up in early to mid-summer.

Jim Shroyer, Crop Production Specialist