Wheat School: Seed the crop based on kernel weight, not bushels

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If you’re a wheat grower, chances are you’ve heard about thousand kernel weight (TKW) and how you should be using the number to fine-tune wheat seeding rates. Seeding will be here before we know it – now is a great time to figure out TKW on each seeding lot.

On this episode of RealAgriculture’s Wheat School, Jeremy Boychyn, agronomy research extension specialist with Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions, joins RealAgriculture’s Kara Oosterhuis to talk about using TKW to make sure you are getting the right amount of seed in the ground for your target population and yield target.

“There’s two options if you want to get your thousand kernel weight. First, you can send it into a seed lab,” Boychyn notes. “They are going to give you an exact thousand kernel weight, and you are going to be able to take that along with your vigour, your germination, and utilize that.”

If instead you want to do a quick estimate at home, it’s easy enough. You don’t have to count 1,000 kernels (but it’s most accurate if you do) — you can count out 10, 25, or 50 kernels, weigh them off and multiply that up to a the equivalent of 1,000 seeds.

With the difficulties many producers have faced over the past few years with variable harvests, which ultimately leads to variable seed quality, it’s crucial that you have those rates where they should be, and to understand that there is in fact a difference between seeding by bushels (a unit of volume) and TKW. (Story continues below video)

Check out the full conversation between Jeremy Boychyn and Kara Oosterhuis, below:

“When I hear the comment “I just kind of run at two or two-and-a-half bushels, and it is in and around the same range”, I tell them that when you go year-to-year, and also switch varieties, that thousand kernel weight can change more than you’d think,” Boychyn says.

For example, a bushel of one variety can mean a huge difference in the amount of actual seed versus another bushel. There are more seeds in a thousand grams of AC Andrew, than there will be of AC Foremost, he says. “When you’re aiming for a specific plant stand per foot, or per square metre, if you aren’t being specific with the amount of seed thats going in the ground, you are likely going to miss that desired target,” Boychyn says.

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