The most important pass a farmer makes every year is the one with the seeder. There’s no way to add yield or plants if you make a big mistake on that first pass — no amount of fungicide, herbicide or specialty product is going to come to the rescue. But seeding conditions in Western Canada are rarely ideal, and the window is small; it’s easy for a lack of planning or patience to knock off yield potential before that seed has even come out of the ground.
As seeding approaches, here are some quick reminders to help you get the most out of your cereal crop this year.
- Start with quality seed. This is one of the best decisions you will make all year on your farm. Getting a plump seed with good germ and vigor is going to put more money in the bank than many other decisions on your farm. Get your seed tested so that you can get an accurate assessment of where your seed is at. This leads into two more important factors.
- Treat that seed. Seed treatments are are a must for an all-star worthy seeding performance, especially if your seed test shows some disease levels, or if conditions are cold and damp. Many seed borne diseases are on the rise with the increased rainfall across the prairies the past few years. This includes the infamous Fusarium graminearum which can hammer your seeds’ germination and vigor. Understanding which diseases are present can help you decide which seed treatment product is going to best benefit your operation. Just like herbicide actives have strengths on certain weeds, seed treatment actives have strengths on certain diseases.
- Re-think your seeding rate and do some simple math. Seeding rate often gets thought about the least when it comes to planning out the growing season. To top it off, it’s often a one-size-fits-all per crop type and done in bushels per acre. We need to start seeding heavier in Western Canada. Utilizing the thousand kernel weight formula (with a realistic number for crop mortality) and monitoring if we reached our target plant density is the best route to take when moving in this direction. Decreased time to maturity, disease levels and insect susceptibility are just a few reasons that this practice should be implemented on many farms across the prairies. I challenge all growers to push the envelope and increase their seeding rates to target higher plant populations for each crop. Even if this is only done on a few passes it will give you a feel for benefits it brings to your farm.
Increasing yield truly does start with seeding and the individuals that take advantage of this are going to be the ones with the bragging rights in the coffee shops. Tune in March 18 for the second part of this seeding series.