The challenging spring in Northwest Minnesota has forced many to seed their wheat and barley under less than ideal conditions and into poor seedbeds. Now is the time to evaluate how well your seeding operation went and what the attained stands are. This is important as the decision about inputs further into the season will depend on the yield potential that is left.
Stand counts are simple to do and take just a little extra effort while you are scouting for weeds and/or early season fungal diseases. The easiest time to do a stand count is probably when the crop is in the two- to three-leaf stage since tillers are not visible yet, and counting is easier.
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