Cereal Seeding Rates AS SEEDING season draws near, it’s worth taking another look at seeding rates in cereals. According to Sheri Strydhorst, agronomy research scientist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AAF), simply put, higher seeding rates equals higher plant populations. And that, in turn, equals more main heads and less tillers. “The real benefit is increased uniformity in your plant population across your field,” she says. “When you have more plants, they have fewer tillers and that means all of those heads will be at the same growth stage.” This increased uniformity leads to everything flowering at the same time, making fungicide applications easier, presenting a shorter window for pests such as wheat midge, and less infection time for diseases such as ergot or Fusarium head blight. “If we have early-season disease or frost or insect damage, having more seeds allows you to make sure if some of those are lost in the spring, you’re not at a critically low plant population,” notes Strydhorst. “The other thing is increased competition with weeds. As we get more and more herbicide-resistant weeds, we need to depend on agronomic tools from the system, not just herbicides. The more plant competition you have from your crop, the better your herbicides are going to work.” Brian Beres, research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada at Lethbridge, has conducted scads of seeding rate work on spring and winter wheat. He says besides potential for higher yields, there are secondary benefits that come into the mix. For instance, wheat’s competitive ability. “We conducted multiple studies on winter wheat and were able to show how important higher seeding rates were in managing weed competition which is significant as you achieve early canopy closure with high plant populations,” he says. “The result is better control of weeds. Also, a key feature of high seeding rates is replacing those secondary tillers with more main stems per unit area, resulting in a much more uniform crop stage, so you get higher fungicide efficacy. This is also likely to shorten the flowering period as well as days to maturity, so the Higher cereal seeding rates can provide many benefits. USE THE RIGHT SEEDING RATE THIS SPRING 14 | Advancing Seed in Alberta