Wheat School: Seeding rates in a drought year

Nothing about drought is fun or easy, especially when you’re gearing up for your next seeding season with less than ideal soil moisture conditions. However, research is being done on how farmers could adjust their seeding rates to best maximize their wheat yields following a drought.

On this episode of RealAgriculture’s Wheat School, we are joined by Jessica Enns, general manager for the Western Applied Research Corporation (WARC), who discusses some of the research being done on wheat seeding rates in drought-stricken areas.

Last year, several parts of the Prairies experienced drought conditions, and Enns says they were able to gain some knowledge on seeding rates then and continue on with the research this year.

“What we found [in 2021] is that a higher seeding rate of 275 seeds per meter squared, we started seeing some yield penalties compared to those lower seeding rates of 125, 160 seeds per meter squared. So based on that concept, we developed a trial located here at Scott and Swift Current. We’re really investigating the different levels of seeding rates we can use to try and manage our yields as best as possible, if we do run into drought conditions,” explains Enns.

Although row spacing is pretty consistent at 10 to 12 inches, Enns says farmers can make further adjustments in the way of seeding depth.

“In terms of depth, you want to try and get to moisture so we always try and stick around that three quarters of an inch to an inch. You want to be careful not to go too deep, because you won’t get the emergence you’re looking for. So we always play that rule of thumb no more than an inch,” says Enns.

Listen to the full episode below where Enns goes into detail about how to choose your seeding rate when the crystal ball isn’t working and farmers could stand to get sufficient moisture.