Tips for early seed planting

Mar 23, 2015

Five tips from Nathan Klassen, SeedGrowth Specialist with Bayer CropScience from Manitoba

By Diego Flammini, 

“Anytime you’re planting early there’s a handful of things farmers should be aware of or think about when planting earlier or seeding earlier,” said Nathan Klassen, a SeedGrowth Specialist with Bayer CropScience.

1. Understanding the quality of seed you’re working with
“We promote and are big believers of using certified seeds if at all possible,” Klassen said. “Some producers may choose to keep their own seeds, usually cereals. If they are using their own seeds then making sure they get germination and vigor tests done on their seeds to make sure it’s in good quality and what they put in the ground is going to grow.”

Certified seeds, as described by the Canadian Seed Growers’ Association, are “the product of a production process designed to deliver specific plant breeding achievements to farmers and the food industry. In other words, it is true-to-type. True-to-type means all the benefits developed by the plant breeder are retained as the seed is multiplied over a number of specific number of generations (to the Certified seed stage) from the small amount of seed developed by the plant breeder.”

2. Understanding the weight or the density of your seed
“Most guys just use a standard default for their crops,” he said. “They just assume wheat is 60lbs/bushel and barley is 48lbs/bushel. Usually once your grain is cleaned, if you’re buying certified and depending on the year of seed production, wheat can be 65, 68/lbs and barley 50-plus pounds.”

Klassen said these variables can impact seeding rates so that if you’re planting for a specific plant population you know how much you have to plant.

3. Understanding soil temperature and type
“When the snow goes away and the sun comes out we think the soil is warming up but really you need a soil thermometer at the depth you plan on seeding,” he said. “There’s no sense taking soil temperature at 3-inches if you’re going to plant at an inch.”

Klassen suggests taking one temperature in the early morning and one in the early afternoon, taking the average and using that as a guide to see what the  might be.

“Wet soils typically stay cooler longer whereas lighter land tends to warm up a little quicker,” Klassen said.  “Farmers have different land in different places so they could have places warming up at different rates.”

He said at the end of the day it comes down to the individual farmer and what their desired outcome for their farm is.

4. Use of a seed treatment
“Obviously if we’re seeding a little earlier, soils tend to be on the cooler side,” he said. “Seed treatment protects you against some of those early-season soil-born diseases like root rot and as spring progresses, soil-born fusarium.”

5. Use your resources

Klassen suggests for farmers to ask any questions they might have to get a broader scope of knowledge about seeding and how to get the best performance from them.

“You really only get one shot to give the seed a good start,” he said. “Do the little things so the seed you put into the ground comes out of the ground.”

Join the conversation and tell us if you’ll put any of Nathan Klassen’s tips into your seeding this year. What are some other tips you have to early planting?

Nathan Klassen

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