If you’re still seeding wheat by “about two bushels per acre”, it’s time to revisit your seeding strategy. Not only does the old bushels per acre rule-of-thumb not take into account a targeted plant population (the cornerstone of the crop year), it also ignores seed lot differences of size and weight. While varieties may perform uniformly, seed size and weight are largely governed by growing conditions — seed lots of the same variety grown on different fields may vary in seed weight by 30% or more.
The solution is to start with a 1,000 kernel weight of each seed lot. Yes, every seed lot, for every field. It doesn’t take long and can actually save on seed…or avoid a thin stand. You only get one shot with the seeder, right? So make it count.
With a 1,000 kernel weight in hand, it’s time to choose the target plant density and a reasonable seedling mortality rate to finish off the equation. (Click here for tips on calculating a seeding rate based on TKW and a target plant stand.) But what’s the ideal plant stand number? As you’ll see in this Wheat School episode, the typical 25-28 plants per square meter may leave yield on the table, depending on where you farm and if you’re supporting max yield with a robust input package. Ryan Lorenz, with Syngenta Canada, runs through the data his company has collected at various sites on the Prairies in regards to seeding rates, and discusses the all-important seed weight differences between seed lots.
It’s important to note that the yield advantage to higher seeding rates happens because of several factors, and not just because of weed competition. In areas where fusarium is a problem, like Manitoba’s Red River Valley, higher plant populations may mean fewer tillers, which may mean more uniform flowering making a fungicide application more precise to protect both yield and quality.
If you cannot see the embedded video, click here.