Wheat School: Shedding Pounds Makes Healthier Seeding Rate

Peter Johnson wishes farmers managed wheat more like corn.

He admits that corn’s bigger yields and higher profitability creates more interest in intensively managing the crop, but that does not excuse growers from making good, basic wheat management decisions.

One thing that drives Real Agriculture’s resident agronomist crazy is wheat growers who seed based on pounds per acre. He wants to hear growers talking seeds per acre. In this episode of Real Agriculture Wheat School, Johnson laments the fact that many growers tell him they still seed at 150 lbs per acre.

Quite simply, If you don’t do a seed count, you don’t know your seeding rate, says Johnson. “If I have 10,000 seeds per pound and seed at 150 lbs per acre, I have 1.5 million… If you have 15,000 seeds per pound and you seed at 150 lbs, you have 2.25 million seeds per acre.”

In the video, Johnson explains that when growers know the seeds per pound they can then plant optimum seeding rates. After determining seeds per pound, Johnson recommends growers then determine the number of live plants they require per square foot – between 25 to 30. They can then factor in their germination test, which is typically 95%. The next consideration is weather and soil conditions. In really wet conditions, growers across Western Canada may see 10% additional seed mortality.

Johnson says good wheat managers will actually change their seeding rates as planting season progresses and conditions change. “One seeding rate does not fit all… and I absolutely guarantee it’s not 150 lbs per acre.”

Click here for more Wheat School episodes.

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