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How Much Seed is Enough This Year?

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How Much Seed is Enough This Year?
Farmers have been getting conflicting advice on planting populations this spring.  Bob Nielsen, Extension corn specialist at Purdue, has suggested that growers can cut back on the number of seeds they plant and not impact yields. “Results suggest that optimum plant populations for corn grown under typical yield levels and growing conditions are in the neighborhood of 31,150 plants per acre, or seeding rates between 32,500 and 34,600 seeds per acre,” he said, in a recent Purdue release. “The results further suggest that corn grown under moderate to severe drought stress conditions may perform best at plant populations no higher than 28,000 plants per acre and perhaps as low as 21,000 plants per acre under truly severe growing conditions.”

 

Seed companies, however, disagree. Brent Minett with Becks Hybrids says the risk is greater if you underplant vs. overplant, “So if you plant at a rate of 26,000 on some sandy ground that won’t support high yields but we don’t have the flex to compensate when we have a really good year. The lost yield potential is greater if a high population had been planted on that same soil.” He told HAT some growers have been considering cutting back on seeding rates because of the drought last year, “But growers should not plan for a drought but plant for a good year.”

 

Minett says, as wet weather pushes planting back into late April this year, growers should stick with the rate recommended for their particular hybrid, “If you are planting in the last two weeks in April or the first two weeks in May, I would recommend you stick with the recommended rate.” He said only if you are planting corn in late May or early June should you consider cutting back on seeding rates, “By this time the soil temperatures have improved and the weather should be good enough to give you emergence on almost everything you plant.”

 

As for Soybeans, Matt Hutcheson with Seed Consultants says cutting back on seed populations can result in thin stands and poor yields, “Especially on some of your heavy clay soils, if you get a pounding rain or adverse weather, you can have higher seeding mortality which will result in very thins stands.” He noted this was the case for some growers in 2012. Hutcheson recommends that growers base their seeding rates based on past performance of a particular field, excluding 2012.

 

Bob Nielsen has published two articles about seeding rates and seeding rate guidelines, which are free to download:

* Seeding Rate Guidelines for Corn in Indianahttp://www.agry.purdue.edu/ext/corn/news/timeless/SeedingRateGuidelines.html

* Thoughts About Seeding Rates for Cornhttp://www.agry.purdue.edu/ext/corn/news/timeless/SeedingRateThoughts.html