Phillips County News - One Nation, Under God

By Marko Manoukian
P.C. Extension Agent 

Successful small grain planning


September 13, 2017

As producers move further into small grain harvest the chance of cutting a grain crop that has a light test weight is highly probable. If you are considering saving some seed to plant in 2018 it will be necessary to test these grain lots for purity, germination, seeds per pound and test weight.

Doug Holen, Manager Montana Foundation Seed Program provided an example of foundation seed wheat that only had a 44 lbs test weight but had a germination of 99%. There are increases in risk when planting low test weight seed. If light test weight seed is going to be used for seed be very mindful of the seeds per pound as that number goes up dramatically. Also, Holen advised that low test weight seed will need to be cleaned, treated and not planted too deep knowing that the small seed size is more vulnerable to stresses due to seedling vigor from a smaller food source (seed).

Number of seeds per pound of small grain will be critical to plant the right population in 2018. Coupled with moisture the light seed will germinate and grow. If you plant this seed by the bushel a very high seeding rate will occur. Much higher than intended even if you are targeting a higher rate factoring in more seedling mortality. If a seed count is not part of the seed test (it should be so request) producers can calculate it by counting out 1,000 seeds, weighing with a small scale, and converting this to seeds per pound. Knowing seeds per pound will allow you to plant the desired number per foot of row.


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