Diagnosing deep seeding in cereals

When sown into a moist seedbed, shallower-sown seed will emerge sooner, with a more vigorous seedling.

Weaker less developed seedlings
Pale horizontal " football sock" stripes on seedling leaves.

What to look for


  • Pale and weaker plants that are more frequent in softer soil areas or along seeding rows.
  • Early sown crops are less affected than those sown in cold wet conditions.


  • Weaker less developed seedlings.
  • Pale horizontal " football sock" stripes on seedling leaves.
  • Very deep sown seedlings may fail to emerge.
  • Seedlings are more susceptible to other stresses such as root disease, nematodes or water-logging.

What else could it be

Condition Similarities Differences
Diagnosing allelopathy in cereals Reduced plant emergence and weak seedlings Silly seedling can occur with shallow sown plants with plants rarely recovering.

Where does it occur?

  • The importance of seeding depth to maximise crop potential is recognised by most growers. As a general rule, the shorter the coleoptile length of a cereal variety, the more accurate the seed placement needs to be.
  • The coleoptile protects the first wheat or barley leaf as it pushes through to the soil surface.

Management strategies

  • Choose long coleoptile varieties if seeding deep to access soil moisture.
Page last updated: Tuesday, 3 May 2016 - 8:44am