Winter wheat in head

Figure 1. Winter wheat in head


  • Grass

Growth Habits

Top Growth

  • Rapid fall growth - not as fast as rye at low temperatures
  • Slower maturing than rye

Root System

  • Fibrous root system - not as aggressive as rye


  • Does not winterkill

Site suitability

  • Tolerates a moderately wide range of site conditions
  • Does not thrive well in saturated or droughty soils

Control Options

  • Needs to be controlled early in spring to avoid excessive drying of soil

Sensitivity to Herbicides - Weed Control

  • There are many herbicides registered for use in wheat but good weed control for a cover crop should not be expensive and may not be needed. Establish a vigorous crop canopy to smother out weeds.

Benefits and Concerns

Nutrient Management

  • Nitrogen uptake is only half of that of rye in the fall
  • Nitrogen uptake is high in the spring

Soil Moisture

  • High water use in spring

As Feed

  • Grown as a cover crop and food crop
  • Green growth can be harvested as forage

Getting Started


  • Can be overseeded in growing crop (e.g. beans, tomatoes);
  • Should be planted by the end of September for an effective cover crop

Cost & Availability

  • Seed easily available and inexpensive