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WestBred Launches 'Wheat Insight System' to Ensure Seeding Accuracy

One of the bugaboos of wheat production is precise seed population count at planting. For years, many farmers have planted wheat seed in terms of pounds per acre, not seeds. But seed-per-pound counts can vary depending on variety or even the year in which the seed is grown.

WestBred hopes to improve wheat seeding accuracy with its new Wheat Insight System, announced today at the Commodity Classic in New Orleans. The system allows growers to buy and plant wheat seed to optimize yield and profit potential, and provides wheat seed suppliers with agronomic recommendations for growers.

"Today, many wheat growers plant seed by the pound. But that doesn’t mean it’s accurate or that it's best when it comes to maximizing yields in today’s challenging economic environment," says John Fietsam, wheat technical product lead for Monsanto.

The Wheat Insight System, available to wheat seed suppliers this spring, calculates how many seeds are in a pound – a number that can vary because of differences in size and density. That information, available for growers for planting this fall, is used to create an Optimal Seeding Rate recommendation that takes into account seed size and density, geography, planting date, and production practices.

The system can process a small sample of seeds in about a minute, and the Optimal Seed Rate is provided to the grower in a printout or by email for free. The insights enable the grower to plant wheat based on the exact number of seeds per acre, which is much more precise and potentially more productive.

"Larger seeds mean fewer seeds in a pound, which can result in underseeding," Fietsam says. "Consequently, growers aren’t taking full advantage of the land and rely too heavily on tillering for yield potential. Seeding rates that are too low can also delay maturity, increase weed competition and, ultimately, fail to get all the potential out of the crop." Conversely, there are more small seeds in a pound, which could lead to overseeding and greater competition for nutrients, moisture, and light. That can affect lodging and yields.

Todd Strader, of Colfax, Washington, tested the WestBred Wheat Insight System last fall. "I have had to do all the calculations myself, so I was really intrigued when I saw the seed counter and what it does," he says.

Strader advocates planting based on seed count rather than pounds per acre. "I’m a believer in a 950,000 seed count number for my farm, and I’ve used that number to plant as heavy as 110 pounds per acre and as light as 84 pounds per acre, based on seed count. You have to get the plant populations right," he adds.

For more information about the advantages of Optimal Seeding Rates and the Wheat Insight System from WestBred wheat, see your WestBred representative or log on to wheatinsightsystem.com.

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