Wheat is an annual grass with basic, erect, hollow or pithy culms. The wheat plant can grow up to 1,2m tall. The wheat leaves are flat and narrow while they can extend up to 38cm long. The spikes are long, slender, dorsally compressed and somewhat flattened.
Warm temperatures are suitable for summer wheat (22° to 34°C) and cool temperatures are suitable for winter wheat (5° to 25°C). An ideal climate for planting wheat can be described as cool and moist, followed by a warm dry season for harvesting.
Well – drained fertile loamy to sandy loam with pH of 6.0 to 7.5. Soil temperatures of less than 5°C are not suitable for seed germination. Wheat is adversely affected by acidic soil.
Soil tillage is one of the important production practices over which the farmer has full control. The effect of tillage cannot be predicted for any season. Therefore, the farmer has to plan his actions to solve specific problems. Unnecessary cultivation’s cost money, time and effort, while valuable soil water is lost in the process. Such cultivation also cause re compaction that has to be addressed later. Minimum tillage (75 to 130mm deep) deep tillage (150 to 300 mm) or no till can be practiced. This will also depend on the soil type, moisture availability, type of cultivar and the previous crop planted.
Wheat is planted mainly between Mid – April and Mid June in the in the winter rainfall areas (Western & Southern Cape). Also between Mid – May and the end of July in the summer rainfall areas (Eastern Free State). The seed should be planted evenly and shallowly in a moist, firm seedbed. Germination, emergence and development of adventitious roots occur within 4 to 6 weeks after planting under proper soil conditions. The required spacing in the row is about 30cm and 50 to 100cm between the rows, depending on the available soil moisture or the farming method.
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