Using good planting practices and sound management, growers can reduce wheat seeding rates considerably without reducing productivity.
Considering this season’s wheat seed shortage issues, I highly recommend planting your crop with a grain drill, compared to more rudimentary broadcast planting methods, in order to optimize stand establishment, vigor and seedling survival.
Furthermore, by planting using good practices and sound management, you can reduce your wheat seeding rate considerably without reducing productivity.
While it is important to strive for specific planting standards, wheat does have outstanding capability to compensate for wide variation of plant density.
Our normal planting recommendation is to strive to establish 1 million to 1.3 million wheat plants/acre or 23 to 30 plants per square foot. However, if you plant with a modern drill at the optimal time in a well-prepared seedbed and are committed to actively managing wheat during the fall, you can likely reduce your stand goal to about 650,000 plants/acre without reducing productivity.
Wheat seed size can range from 11,000 to 18,000 seeds per pound (should be noted on the tag), so you should base seeding rate on the number of seeds (seeds per pound), rather than on the volume or weight of the seeds (bushels per acre) — particularly since seed supply is short.
Using these strategies may reduce your seeding rate by more than 50 percent and/or allow you to plant better varieties on twice as many acres.
A short list of variety suggestions for 2010 can be found at: 2010 MSU Wheat Variety Suggestions.
Editor’s note: This article appeared in the Sept. 24, 2010, issue of Mississippi Crop Situation 2010.