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Checking Stands and Replanting Decisions

by Jochum Wiersma, Extension small grains specialist

The wheat that was seeded immediately after Easter started to emerge by the middle of last week. Pretty much the same day as was predicted by the accumulated growing degree model for wheat that is available on the NDAWN system. The wheat that was seeded in the week of April 20 is, as predicted by the NDAWN system, just about to peek through.

I do not expect stand issues despite the very cool conditions we have had to endure this past month. Nevertheless, this is a good time to determine your initial stand and evaluate your seeding operation. It is much easier to count the number of plants when the seedlings have not started to initiate tillers yet. Tillering will start as soon as the seedlings reach the three-leaf stage. To do a stand count, use one of the following two methods:  
  1. Count the number of plants in a foot of row at several locations in the field. Take an average and convert to plants per acre using Table 1. 
  2. Take a hula-hoop, let it fall, and count the number of plants inside the hoop. Repeat this at random several times across the field and calculate an average. Use Table 2 to convert the count to an approximate population per square foot or acre. 
Table 1 - Average number of plants per foot of row for different row spacing and plant densities per acre.

Table 2 - Adjustment factors to multiply the number of plants inside a hoop and convert the number to number of plants per acre

Use the following guidelines to determine whether replanting is worthwhile:
  1. If the reduced stand is uniform (no big skips or holes), keep stands of 15 to 17 plants per square foot.  The crop still has ample time to tiller and compensate for less than ideal stands, especially if the weather stays this cool.
  2. If skips are large (3 to 6 ft.), or holes are 4 to 6 feet in diameter consider replanting or filling in just those areas of the field.  

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