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Winter Wheat Vernalization



Winter wheat covers a small fraction of acres in the state, however with the limited snow cover and drought conditions there are concerns about whether or not winter wheat vernalized. Vernalization is the process where plants need to sense exposure to cool temperatures in order to reach flowering. Winter wheat will not produce seed if not vernalized. If the seed did not germinate in the fall due to dry conditions, there is still an opportunity for the crop to vernalize. If the seed has imbibed water it can start the vernalization process and the process does not need to wait for the plant to be emerged. Wheat seed germination occurs with soil temps in the upper 30s and vernalization occurs with temps at or below those same temps. The unknown factor is length of time needed at these low temps for vernalization; the range has been reported to be 30 to 75 days. Based off of state NDAWN soil temperatures vernalization should not be an issue. Soil that looks dry will still not be completely void of moisture and the imbibition process has likely already started.

There are many variables to consider for vernalization including cultivar, soil temp, and timing of germination and moisture. All of these factors included I would not be concerned about lack of vernalization across the state for winter wheat planted last fall and would be more concerned about potential for having varying growth stages within the field.

winter wheat seedlings in the NDSU Dickinson REC winter Wheat Variety Trail on 4.27.21
winter wheat seedlings in the NDSU Dickinson REC winter Wheat Variety Trail on 4.27.21


Relationship between soil texture class and plant available water holding capacity

Ryan Buetow

Extension Cropping Systems Specialist

NDSU Dickinson REC


Greg Endres

Extension Cropping Systems Specialist

NDSU Carrington REC



This site is supported in part by the Crop Protection and Pest Management Program [grant no. 2017-70006-27144/accession 1013592] from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed are those of the website author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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