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Tips On Taking Stand Counts

Apr 22, 2021

Performing stand counts is the first indication of how the growing season will go. Stand counts are a great way to evaluate preseason plans, evaluate emergence and germination, start planning for harvest and checking for other issues like disease, pests and crop damage as a result of poor weather.
Here are three things to check while doing stand counts:

Did the planter space plants correctly? Mark off one-thousandth of an acre with a rope or tape measure. In 30-inch rows, that’s 17 feet and 5 inches. Measure spacing between plants, first in one row and then in its neighboring row. Spacing is important for proper plant growth and weed prevention. Repeat this at several places in the field and compute an average.

Early in the season, before other factors might account for missing plants, this gives you an idea of whether your planter spaced plants evenly or not and can aid in planter adjustments.

Did disease, insects or other factors impact stands? If you’re measuring spacing between plants and find a 12-inch gap now and then, it could be something besides planter performance. Perhaps the seed didn’t germinate. Warm germination scores on most seed is typically around 95%. That means about one seed in 20 won’t germinate, leaving a gap.

The gap may also mean that an insect destroyed the seedling or plant. Or maybe the seed or seedling fell victim to seedling rot or seedling blight. If it’s later in the season, maybe the plant emerged so late it was a weed. Look for patterns in rows and in different rows across the field if you notice these types of gaps. Dip up the seed in emergence gaps to get an idea of what may have happened.

Did you achieve the overall desired plant population? Look back at your plans to see what the seeding rate and intended final population was for the fields, or areas of a field and measure the stand. Use the same rope or tape measure, counting plants in 17 feet, 5 inches of row, for 30-inch rows, on both sides of the row. Repeat that process at least 3-4 times in similar areas of the field to determine an average. If you planted more than one hybrid in the field, repeat your counts in each hybrid. Multiply the counts by 1000 and that will tell you the average population per acre.

If there is a larger gap between seeding rate and final population than desired, you can look at factors like: planter performance, germination percentage, insect and disease pressure and a variety of other factors.
If you have questions about stand counts and early season plant performance, contact your local Centra Sota Crop Advisor.

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