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What Is the Optimum Wheat Seeding Rate?

Aug 15, 2012

Question: What would be the number of seeds per foot at planting to achieve the 600 to 650 plants at harvest ? I farm in southern Ontario Canada I'm on silk-clay, loam soil . I grow a lot of seed corn and some years I put wheat after corn. The only thing different I do is I work the ground with a set of disks and packers then plant. I look forward from hearing from you .


Answer: In your question you said 600-650 plants at harvest. You meant 600-650 heads per square yard, I'm sure.

Obviously the mechanics of obtaining head counts within this ideal range would be to target around 250-300 plants which survive the winter, each with around 2-3 tillers which produce heads. This strategy should provide around 600-650 heads per square yard at harvest.

The number of wheat seeds per square foot or square yard that you need to plant is very dependent on many factors. These factors obviously include seed quality/germination %, planting date (the biggest factor), then the fertility status of the field, if it’s no-till or conventional, the previous crop, plus the brand and condition of the drill/air-seeder, which can have a big impact on stand uniformity.

With all this said, if you start seeding around October 1st around Ridgetown in Southern Ontario for example, I think you can seed around 300 live seeds per square yard (divide by 9 to get square foot), if you have good, conventional tillage conditions with minimal surface residue. If you are no-tilling into heavy surface residue I would bump it an additional 10-25% depending on the volume of material on the soil surface and how well the drill is able to position seeds in the soil.

If your planting date gets delayed until say mid-October, tillering and overall plant development will be reduced on account of the cooler soils, so the seeding rate will need to be raised to compensate for that. So, within this later planting date range, I would suggest seeding around 350 live seeds within conventional soils, bumping it another 10-25% as previously outlined for no-till.

I would also recommend placing P in the row at seeding time and remember, you can fine-tune your tiller densities/head counts by manipulating the N rates and timings in the early spring.
 

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