Grain Quality

Row Width Influences Wheat Yield, But Has Little Effect On Wheat Quality

Laura E. Lindsey, Edwin Lentz, and Byung-Kee Baik

Farmers are interested in wide-row wheat production due to reductions in equipment inventory (lack of grain drill) and to allow intercropping of soybean into wheat. A trial was established during the 2013-2013 growing seasons in Wayne Co. and Wood Co., Ohio to evaluate the effect of row width and cultivar on soft red winter wheat grain yield and quality.

Quick Take-Away

  • In 3 out of 4 site-years, wheat yield was reduced by 2 to 15% when grown in wide rows compared with narrow rows. At one site-year, grain yield was the same regardless of row width.
  • Yield response to row width was similar among the four cultivars evaluated in this study.
  • Differences in wheat quality were small and unlikely to be significant to the soft red winter wheat baking industry.

Methods. A field study was established during the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 growing seasons at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) in Wayne Co. and the Northwest  Agricultural Research Station (NWARS) in Wood Co. Two row widths were evaluated: 7.5-inch and 15-inch. Four wheat cultivars were evaluated: Rupp 935, Rupp 972, Syngenta SY483, and Syngenta W1104.

The previous crop was soybean. The soil series in Wayne Co. was Canfield silt loam, and the soil series was Hoytville clay in Wood Co. Soil phosphorus, potassium, and pH were adequate for wheat according to state recommendations (Vitosh et al., 1995). Wheat was planted at 25 seeds/ft row regardless of row width, which is equal to 1,700,000 seeds/acre at 7.5-inch row width and 850,000 seeds/acre at 15-inch row width (Beuerline, 2002). Each year, 30 lb N/acre was applied at planting and an additional 100 lb N/acre was applied in the spring at green-up.

Effect of Row Width and Cultivar on Grain Yield. Overall, reductions in grain yield at wide row width compared with narrow row width ranged from 0 to 15% with an average reduction of 7%. Averaged across all site-years, there were 20% more wheat heads produced when wheat was grown in 15-inch row width compared with 7.5-inch row width. The increased number of wheat heads may explain the relatively small yield reduction associated with growing wheat in wide row width compared with narrow row width.

Effect of Row Width and Cultivar on Wheat Quality. Wheat cultivar influenced grain test weight, flour yield, flour softness, and flour protein. However, there were very limited effects of row width on wheat grain quality.


Beuerlein, J.E. 2002. Effect of row spacing on wheat yield. AGF-152-02. Ohio State Univ. Ext. Serv., Columbus.

Vitosh, M.L., J.W. Johnson, and D.B. Mengel. 1995. Tri-state fertilizer recommendations for corn, soybeans, wheat, and alfalfa. Bull. E-2567. Ohio State Univ. Ext. Serv., Columbus.



  • Research was funded by the Ohio Small Grains Marketing Program.
  • Seed donated by Rupp Seeds and Syngenta.
  • Thanks to OARDC staff for field assistance and staff of the USDA-ARS soft wheat quality laboratory for quality evaluation.


Originally published: Lindsey, L.E., E. Lentz, and B. Byung-Kee. 2016. Row width influences wheat yield, but has little effect on wheat quality. Crop, Forage, and Turfgrass Management. doi: 10.2134/cftm2015.0158.