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Source: WestBred Wheat news release

A recent Monsanto survey found that over 61 percent of wheat growers reported that they use a planting rate based on pounds per acre. With planting season approaching, WestBred wheat urges wheat growers to reconsider previous planting methods and to rely on specific seeding rates to help maximize their productivity potential.

To support growers as they shift to planting based on specific seeding rates, WestBred wheat has developed the ConnectIN Wheat Insight System for its seed suppliers. This system allows seed suppliers to provide Optimal Seeding Rate recommendations for WestBred varieties. The tool takes seed count into consideration but also considers factors based on a grower's individual field, planting date, unique geography and other environmental and agronomic factors.

"Many wheat growers are still planting by the pound, but there's a more efficient way to plant," said Chandler Mazour, WestBred Technical Product Lead. "Not all pounds are created equal, or in other words, variances in seed size and density can dramatically impact the number of seeds in a pound. Planting using a more precise population approach helps enable growers to get the most potential from their variety, land and inputs."

Wheat growers are coming off a season of low commodity prices, and experts at WestBred wheat and in the wheat industry are affirming the benefits of planting with a specific seeding rate based on seed count per acre as a way to help improve profitability potential.

They note that planting wheat seed based on pounds per acre can lead to overseeding or underseeding, both of which come with potential hazards.

"It depends a lot on the variety, but what I have seen in general is that planting according to a specified plant population on a seeds-per-acre basis is extremely important because we do have a tendency to overseed," said Juliet Marshall, research professor and extension specialist at the University of Idaho. "When you overseed, you end up having problems with diseases like crown rot, foot rot and lodging. The plants will compete with each other for resources, they will grow taller and the stems will be weaker, so you will have increased lodging."

On the other end of the spectrum, underseeding can mean too few plants per square foot, which can result in increased weed risk, overreliance on tillering and, ultimately, potential yield loss.

Some of the agronomic benefits of planting with a seed-count-per acre approach include:
•Increased yield potential
•Improved uniformity and stand development
•Reduced lodging risk
•Reduced potential weed competition
•Optimized light interception

As education around specific seeding rates intensifies, growers understand the need to utilize a seeds-per-acre planting approach to meet wheat production demands.

Jared Hagert, owner and president of Integrated Ag Services in North Dakota, estimates while around 20 percent of his wheat growers used a precise seeding rate last year, that number will likely double this year. Economics is the main reason for this shift.

"Adjusting your seeding rate can have a tremendous impact on yield potential," he said.

Rusty Smallwood, a sales manager at Warner Seed in Texas, has already begun to utilize the ConnectIN System and proactively shares the benefits of Optimal Seeding Rates with his growers.

"All of the growers we've talked to about Optimal Seeding Rates with the ConnectIN System are receptive to the idea because all of the other crops they plant are planted on seed count or population. It makes sense to them that they should be doing this with wheat, although no one has ever given them a recommendation," he says.

Looking ahead, he shared, even more growers will be open to the concept of Optimal Seeding Rates, especially when they see the results.

"Growers truly appreciate the ability to make good choices and to plant according to the Optimal Seeding Rate versus by the pound because they're trying to optimize returns on every acre and trying to manage their expenses," said Smallwood. "This is one way they can manage seed costs as well as make sure they're getting the best return."

Growers can see how planting with an Optimal Seeding Rate can impact their ROI by visiting and entering in their field information. To access their Optimal Seeding Rate recommendation, growers can visit a WestBred seed supplier.

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