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Wheat Seeding Rates

Grain Drill

(Thanks to Rome Ethredge, Seminole County Ag Agent for the picture)

With Wheat Planting underway, I have been getting a few questions regarding wheat seeding rates.  Below is an excerpt from the 2013 Wheat production guide addressing the issue.  The entire 2013-2014 Wheat Production Guide can be found at  http://www.caes.uga.edu/commodities/fieldcrops/gagrains/wheat.html

Optimum seeding rates for wheat can vary widely due to differences in seed quality, genetics, planting conditions or planting dates, and planting methods (drill or broadcast). Seeding based on seeds per acre is much more accurate than seeding based on weight per acre. Multiple seeding rates studies have been conducted throughout the southeastern U.S. and most show that seeding 1.2 million to 1.5 million seeds per acre is optimum. This is equal to seeding about 30 – 35 seeds per square foot. However, to reach this rate will require knowledge of seed size (aka-number of seeds per pound).

In a normal year, wheat cultivars vary between 10,000 and 18,000 seeds per pound. This difference can impact the actual seeding rate if a grower seeds wheat in bushels per acre. For example, in Table 8 seeds per pound of variety 4 and variety 6 vary by 35%. If a grower planted in bushels per acre, he would plant 35% more seed of variety 6 than variety 4, potentially over-planting or under-planting one of the cultivars. For that reason, it is important to focus attention on purchasing the amount of wheat for seeding not by bushels but ultimately that needed to give you the 30 to 35 seeds per square feet.

Table 8. Example of seeds per pound of wheat grown in one year in Georgia.
Variety Seed/Pound
1 9,610
2 11,340
3 14,823
4 12,064
5 11,172
6 16,316
7 12,741
8 14,538
9 15,534
Average # seeds per pound 13,126

Information in table 9 provides appropriate seeds per row foot for various row widths. When planting on 7.5 inch row widths each linear foot of row should contain 20-25 seeds depending on germination. This should give you enough seed to achieve the right amount of live plants per acre for high yield. If planting date is delayed, seeding rates should be increased by 15-20%.

      Table 9. Seeds per linear row foot needed to achieve certain seeds 
                         per square foot at different seeding widths.
                         seeds/sq. ft
Row widths 30 35 40 45
6 15 18 20 23
7 18 20 23 26
7.5 19 22 25 28
8 20 23 27 30
10 25 29 33 38

The use of certified seed will help insure you are planting seed with a minimum germination of 85% and free of noxious weeds. Bin run seed is not recommended however, if you choose to use bin run seed, it is important that it is tested for germination. Thorough seed cleaning will often increase the germination of a seed lot because it eliminates some non-viable seed.

Yield potential is maintained when wheat is planted as accurately as possible. Therefore calibrate grain drills each time you change cultivar or seed lots so as to achieve the desired number of plants per acre.

If you have any questions, contact your local extension agent for more information.