October 07, 2017

'Sow' what—Wheat seeding rate recommendations

In all crops, seeding rate is an important decision. Whether it is 50 to 60 pounds for our western Kansas dryland producers or up to 90 (or even more) pounds for wheat grown in southeast Kansas, the traditional seeding rate for wheat was on a pounds per acre basis. However, the current recommendation is to sow on a seeds per acre basis instead.

In reality, if all wheat varieties had the same seed size and the same ability to tiller, sowing on a pounds per acre basis would be acceptable. Unfortunately this is not the case, so seeds per acre is the latest recommendation.

A group of researchers at Kansas State University (Romulo Lollato, Gary Cramer, Allan Fritz, and Guorong Zhang) recently conducted an experiment in Hutchinson and Manhattan to try and determine the best seeding rate for varying wheat varieties in Kansas. Their research resulted in some interesting results.

Their project tested seven varieties—Everest, KanMark, 1863, Joe, Tatanka, Larry and Zenda—at five (0.6 million, 0.95 million, 1.3 million, 1.65 million, and 2 million) seeding rates. To quantify different yield components they documented emerged plants per acre, tillers per plant and tillers per acre as well as harvested grain yield.

Wheat is a compensatory plant meaning that it can put out more tillers if the seeding rate is too low. Their research definitely showed this is the case as tillers per plant was significantly impacted by the plant population in both Hutchinson and Manhattan. In Hutchinson, the lowest populations resulted in twice the number of tillers per plant at the higher populations (8.2 tillers/plant versus 3.8 tillers/plant) while the Manhattan results were similar (7.4 tillers per plant versus 4.8 tillers per plant).

This seems to be an argument to plant lower populations, right? Unfortunately for those trying to push the lower seeding rates to the extremes, the grain yield was significantly lower at the lowest seeding rate.

Read the full article at High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal

Read More at High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal