“No-till planting alfalfa, turnips or summer annual grasses into wheat stubble has many advantages,” says Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska Extension forage specialist. “Soil moisture is conserved, erosion is reduced, weed seeds remain buried, and tillage expenses are eliminated. But despite these advantages, many growers still experience spotty stands.”

Anderson explains one of the primary challenges is heavy residues that can limit drill operation and seed placement, or partially smother seedlings.

“The best way to minimize this problem is to bale the straw and remove excess residue. And be sure to have a well-functioning drill,” Anderson says.

As for the eternal vexation of weeds – annuals or volunteer wheat – Anderson suggests using herbicides like glyphosphate prior to planting, as well as timely application of post-emergence herbicides such as Select.

“Finally, consider cross-drilling or double-drilling,” Anderson suggests. “Plant one half of the seed while driving one direction and the other half while driving in a different direction. This helps fill in gaps, develops canopy and improves weed control earlier, and may help you plant the right amount of seed if you commonly end up running out or have much seed left over.”