Wheat School: Achieving a successful seeding rate

A proper seeding rate can determine the success of an entire season, and even though thinking through seeding rates may seem boring, the effects of too low of a seeding rate compound. It’s not too late to send a sample away to get all the numbers needed to calculate an optimal seeding rate.

According to a survey done about ten years ago, commercial seeding rates were about half of the recommended rate, says Sheri Strydhorst, agronomy research specialist with Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions.

To avoid the consequences of using the wrong seeding rate, Strydhorst’s recommendation is to achieve 33 to 35 plants per square foot. In that range you get the right amount of tillering; increased tillering is undesirable as it can stretch out the growing season length, decrease yield, and create maturity differences.

To get that correct seeding rate, use the Alberta seeding rate calculator, which you can find here. Enter the desired plant population (that 33 to 35 plants per square foot), the germination rate, emergence mortality, and thousand kernel weight (TKW). Sending a sample away to an accredited lab guarantees accurate numbers.

If you’re going to count out your own thousand kernel weight, Strydhorst recommends counting out two batches of 250 seeds and weighing them, then averaging those weights, and multiplying by four.

For the emergence mortality rate — which can be established over time for an individual’s growing area — Strydhorst says that in her area, a 10 per cent emergence mortality is realistic; if 100 seeds are planted, 90 seeds will emerge and make a viable plant.

Last — but certainly not least — don’t skip counting your thousand kernel weight (TKW). In the video, Strydhorst gives an example of differing TKWs between the same variety from lots in 2020 and 2021, that resulted in a 40 lb per acre difference.

Catch the full conversation between Strydhorst and RealAgriculture’s Kara Oosterhuis, below:

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