While scouting for disease and insects, take time to assess the stand. If the stand is spotty and thin, be more conservative with thresholds when protecting the crop from insects, diseases and weed competition. Also, recording the average number of plants per square foot will help growers improve seeding methods for 2011.
Stands of less than 4 or 5 plants per square foot (roughly 40 to 50 per square metre) generally cannot reach their full yield potential. Stands of 10 plants per square foot (100 per square metre) are ideal in that they give a cushion for plant death due to frost, diseases or insects. The photo shows a hoop equivalent to one quarter of a square metre. There are 23 plants inside the hoop, which works out to 92 plants per square metre. For a more accurate measurement, take several counts and average them.
A key part of stand assessment is to identify why the ideal plant population was not achieved. Was it directly related to the seeding operation? Or did insects, disease or environmental factors (frost, wind or flooding) reduce the stand after emergence? Clint Jurke, CCC agronomy specialist, reminds growers that with heavy rains moving soil around, cover over the seed may be deeper than expected. Growers should lower their expectations for emergence as a result, he says