With the launch of the new ConnectIN Wheat Insight System from WestBred wheat, growers now have access to Optimal Seeding Rate recommendations that support maximized production and profit potential.

Knowing Optimal Seeding Rates is critical considering that over 61 percent of the wheat growers responding to a recent survey conducted by Monsanto say their primary method of determining wheat seeding rates is to use only a standard pounds-per-acre approach. Only about 14 percent said they plant based on a desired stand count per acre.

"This shows the tremendous need to get out the message that planting based on only pounds per acre does not accurately account for the variation in seed size and density," said Jeff Koscelny, U.S. Wheat Commercial Lead at Monsanto. "Since that variation can have a dramatic impact on the number of seeds in a pound, planting based on only pounds per acre can mean growers aren't maximizing yield potential."

Many growers traditionally plant based on only pounds per acre because they don't know the number of seeds in a pound of the variety they are planting or don't realize the benefits of adjusting seeding rates based on the number of seeds in a pound, Koscelny said.

"When growers know how many seeds there are in a pound of the variety being planted and then plant based on that count, they can improve production and profit potential by getting the most out of their land, seed and other production inputs," said Koscelny.

The ConnectIN System enables seed suppliers to provide growers Optimal Seeding Rate recommendations based on seed count per pound, geography, planting date, production practices and targeted seeds per acre.

The survey, conducted in March 2016, targeted 500-plus-acre wheat growers representing WestBred wheat regions, including the Central Region (Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska), Montana, Northwest Region (Washington, Idaho, Oregon), Northern Region (Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota), Southern Region (New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma) and the Southwest Region (California, Nevada, Arizona). The average respondent was 61 years old and farms 4,000 acres, with about 1,600 acres in wheat.

The highest percentage of growers saying they plant wheat based on only pounds per acre was in the Central Region with 74 percent, while the lowest percentage was in the Northern Region at 44 percent. Conversely, the highest percentage of growers planting based on desired stand count was 22 percent in the Northern Region compared to only 4 percent in the Central Region. In addition, about 18 percent said they determine seeding rates based on what their university/trusted advisor tells them.

In the survey, 42 percent of the growers said their most common seeding rate practice is to use a single seeding rate in all fields, for all varieties, in a given season. The practice is highest in the Southwest and Central Regions and lowest in Montana and the Northern Region. Reasons given were a lack of understanding regarding the benefits of adjusting seeding rates, not having time to adjust seeding rates and not knowing how many seeds are in a pound of their wheat seed.

The frequency of drill calibration differs considerably by region, with growers who can be characterized as calibrating every time they change seed highest in the Northern and Northwest Regions, at 52 percent and 40 percent, respectively. The highest percentage of growers who calibrate drills only once per season was 50 percent in the Central Region.

At the same time, a majority of the wheat growers in all WestBred regions said they strongly agree that planting wheat based on stand counts and plants per acre results in superior stands, plant health and yield compared to planting wheat based on only pounds per acre. And almost 45 percent strongly agree that planting wheat based on target stand counts is worth the added time and effort of calibrating their drill or air seeder.

"This shows that the information provided by the ConnectIN System can be of great value to growers," said Koscelny. "It processes a small sample of seeds in about a minute, and the Optimal Seeding Rate recommendations are then provided by the seed supplier at no cost to growers. With that information, growers can calibrate to plant the recommended rate for each variety with the goal of achieving an optimal stand for their fields."

Planting based on Optimal Seeding Rate recommendations can help:
• Improve uniformity of stand development and optimize final stand count
• Reduce lodging risk
• Reduce weed competition
• Prevent over-reliance on tillering
• Optimize light interception
• Increase yield potential

For more information about Optimal Seeding Rate recommendations and the ConnectIN System from WestBred wheat, see your WestBred representative or visit http://www.ConnectINSystem.com.