Your Post-Seeding Report Card

Your Post-Seeding Report Card

Fall Stand Evaluations

For a majority of the province, wheat planting is more than likely completed. However, there still may be some acres get planted if field conditions allow. For those with emerged wheat, now is a great time to get out in the fields and conduct a stand evaluation. If you are still waiting on wheat to emerge, it would be a good idea to look at germination percentage and how far below the surface the coleoptile is. Remember, as a general rule of thumb it takes 80 GDD (Growing Degree Days) for the seed to germinate and another 50 GDD per inch of planting depth for emergence. One thing that is interesting is that later planted wheat can shorten its GDD requirements per growth stage allowing the plant to advance through its growth stages quicker. This is why later planted wheat matures generally close to earlier planted wheat.

As long as the seed has germinated going into winter, it will be fine as long as the soil does not get “over saturated”.  Things to look for when conducting a stand evaluation are:

  • How accurate was your seeding rate?
    • Was the intended rate the same as what emerged?
      • If not, are there seeds not germinated?
      • Are all the seeds in the ground at proper depth?
    • Does a scale system for the drill make sense for your operation in the future to increase seeding rate accuracy?
  • How well did the combine manage residue?
    • Evenly spread?
    • Well sized?
    • Are any upgrades to the chopping and spreading system needed for next year?
  • How accurate was the seeding depth/placement?
    • If the drill was set to 1 ¼ inches, how well did it maintain depth?
    • Was there any hair-pinning?
    • Do the blades need to be addressed on the drill for next year?
  • Any noticeable misses with seed or fertilizer?
    • Are the seed and or fertilizer hoses getting worn?
    • Is blockage monitoring something to look into for your operation?
  • How well did fall weed control work?
    • Were the herbicides effective for the target weeds?
    • If you missed the fall application window, is a spring herbicide part of your management program?

One management step that is often overlooked is conducting an over-wintering stand loss test. The purpose of doing this is to establish how much of your stand is actually lost over the winter months and what can be done in the fall to minimize this loss. Select 3-4 different areas in the field with different soil types and topography. Place two markers one foot apart and count the number of plants within the marked area. Write down the count and make note of growth stage. Make sure to flag it with something that will make it through the winter. For my test I used plot stakes, tile locate flags work as well. For my test I counted 23 plants/ft at GS 12 (two leaves unfolded).

For those with different seeding rates, in a 7.5 inch row:

  • 14 plants per foot =1.0 million seeds/ac
  • 17 plants per foot = 1.2 million seeds/ac
  • 20 plants per foot = 1.4 million seeds/ac
  • 23 plants per foot = 1.6 million seeds/ac
  • 26 plants per foot = 1.8 million seeds/ac
  • 29 plants per foot = 2.0 million seeds/ac
  • 32 plants per foot = 2.2 million seeds/ac

The results from your test could help determine future changes for your fall management strategy such as seeding depth, planting date, seeding rate, starter fertilizer, seed treatments, and tillage to name a few. We all know that every year will be different; however evaluating stand loss this year can start to provide a baseline and allow for more informed decisions in the future for your operation.

About the Author

Alex Zelem is a CCA-ON certified Agronomist with C&M Seeds. He farms in Huron County. Alex attended Ridgetown College and when he graduated attended Olds College in Alberta to gain a different perspective from Ontario. He has been working in agriculture since 2013.