facebook_pixel

Researchers Seek the Best Seeding Rate for Yield Potential

Growers who have been around long enough don’t need to be reminded just how much the cost of a bag of seed has risen in recent years.

As seed companies pack more research and genetic advancements into each seed, the costs have skyrocketed. As recently as 1996, a 10 pound bag of seed could be sold at retail for as little as $7. By 2010, the same size bag could go for as much as $70, a ten-fold increase in less than two decades. Growers and subsequently researchers across the Cotton Belt have taken notice.

“As far as plant populations, many studies have been done on this throughout the Cotton Belt,” says Dr. Ed Barnes, director of agricultural and environmental research at Cotton Incorporated.

One such study that Barnes has kept an eye on has been conducted by researcher Sam Wang, a cropping systems specialist with the University of Arizona, in conjunction with Dr. Randy Norton. Wang conducted his studies at the Maricopa Agriculture Center in Maricopa, AZ.

Wang set out to at least narrow the range of recommended planting rates for growers in his area. The commonly accepted range of 20,000 to 55,000 plants per acre left a lot of room for either over- or under-population.

“We wanted to give them a more narrow range so that they could really focus on what works best,” says Wang. “Normally, growers we talked with would plant too high or too dense when left with such a wide recommended range.”

Wang chose two very specific varieties for his research – Deltapine DP 0949 B2RF and Stoneville ST 4498B2RF. The idea was to study varieties that have notably different plant architecture.

“The DP 0949 B2RF grows tall and compact, while the ST 4498B2RF has more of a bushy shape,” says Wang. “We wanted to see how these different types of plants respond to different rates of plant population.”

Wang used four 40-inch wide rows and 40 feet long plots at varying rates of density at his fields in Maricopa. The plots were in sandy loam soils, and all were furrow irrigated. Tests were conducted at nine different plant population rates, ranging from 5,000 plants per acre to 70,000 plants per acre.

Given these conditions, Wang varied his plant density per acre with both varieties, and found a noteworthy pattern. Typically, yields rose at a stable rate as density rose from 5,000 plants per acre to 30,000 plants per acre and up to 35,000 plants per acre. Wang says that once populations rose past 35,000 plants per acre, the lint yield plateaued. The similar lint yield held as plant population increased, until the plants per acre rose past 50,000. At this point, the data reflected a clear decline in yield per acre.

In the first year of the study’s existence, Wang enlisted a local farmer at Marana, AZ, who conducted two properly replicated and randomized trials using PHY 499WRF in one field and PHY 375WRF in another, on a larger, working scale. Those results corroborated Wang’s findings that cotton at 35,000 plants per acre yielded better than 29,000 plants per acre or 42,000 plants per acre.

That data supported the long-held belief that overpopulation can strain an individual plant’s ability to yield to its full potential. This is especially true in less than ideal soil scenarios.

“For variable rate planting, a general strategy is to lower planting rates in the weaker soil types for two reasons,” says Barnes. “First, you want to lower plant to plant competition for limited water and nutrients. Secondly, there is less to risk in lower yield soils. That is, if you do not get a good stand in a soil that will only yield 0.5 bales per acre on a good day, that will not be as big a problem as getting a poor stand on a field that has a three bale per acre yield potential.”

Wang points out that a related benefit to lower plant populations is uniformity within a given field. He focused much of his study during this research on the performance of individual plants.

“It’s consistent with ecological principles of plant population, when the plant density is low, the variation among the plants is low,” says Wang. “So you have plants in a field that are all a similar size. When this happens, you have about 60 percent of the plants that are above average size, meaning the majority of the plants are contributing to lint yield.

“Conversely, in a high density plot, you get some plants with a large size, but about 60 percent of the plants are smaller than average. This means that there are a lot of plants in that field that are not being very productive. Their contributions to yield are very small,” says Wang.

Both Wang and Barnes recognize that there are other variables that may come into play when a grower is deciding how densely to populate a given field. In those instances where a cotton producer may opt for a more sparsely populated field, Barnes says growers should keep emergence rates in mind.

“The low end of that commonly accepted range of 20,000 assumes you will have 20,000 plants that emerge,” says Barnes. “So, you would want a higher seeding rate of at least 25,000 to make sure you have that many plants. Also, this low rate assumes the plants are evenly distributed. It does not apply to skippy stands.”

Another factor to consider when choosing a plant population rate is the maturity rate of a given crop. Growers in northern regions of the Cotton Belt who require a shorter-maturing variety should consider planting a higher seeding rate.

“Dense populations – usually involving 15 inch or tighter row spacings – do typically result in an earlier crop,” says Barnes.

So, while other factors will come into play when deciding how densely to populate a field, researchers like Wang and Barnes are giving growers a better idea of how to maximize their own yield potential. At the very least, Wang hopes his research has helped narrow the wide range of options growers face when contemplating plant populations.

“We want to help them save on their input costs and have better yields, for sure, but we want them to have a better idea of how density affects individual plant performance, too,” says Wang. “We wanted to narrow that range so a farmer won’t go too low or too high.”

Leave a Reply

News Stories
News

BASF Agrees to Buy Bayer’s Liberty and Seed Businesses

October 13, 2017

BASF has agreed to acquire significant parts of Bayer’s seed and non-selective herbicide businesses, including Liberty herbicide and the Stoneville and FiberMax cotton seed brands.

Product News

INTL FCStone Offers Online Tool for OTC Hedging Strategies

October 17, 2017

INTL FCStone Markets, LLC has introduced a new online pricing tool that provides users open access to the firm’s structured products pricing portfolio.

News

Monsanto, Deltapine Support Hurricane Recovery for Texas Ag

October 10, 2017

Monsanto and Deltapine is donating $200,000 to assist with ongoing agricultural recovery efforts in Texas caused by Hurricane Harvey.

Product News

Americot Team Continues to Grow

October 6, 2017

Americot continues to expand the company’s sales and technical support team, with the addition of six new specialists located throughout the Cotton Belt.

News

Getting Ready for 2017 Census of Agriculture

October 2, 2017

Farmers and ranchers across the nation will soon start receiving the 2017 Census of Agriculture.

News

USDA Sets 2018 Marketing Assistance Loan Rate

October 2, 2017

The marketing assistance loan rate for 2018-crop base quality upland cotton has been set at 52.00 cents per pound.

News

Gap Inc. Joins Cotton LEADS Sustainability Program

September 28, 2017

Gap Inc. is the newest member of Cotton LEADS, a joint Australian/U.S. program aimed to promote responsible cotton production practices.

Around The Gin
Product News

INTL FCStone Offers Online Tool for OTC Hedging Strategies

October 17, 2017

INTL FCStone Markets, LLC has introduced a new online pricing tool that provides users open access to the firm’s structured products pricing portfolio.

Product News

Americot Team Continues to Grow

October 6, 2017

Americot continues to expand the company’s sales and technical support team, with the addition of six new specialists located throughout the Cotton Belt.

Product News

NemaStrike Technology Ready for Nematode Control in 2018

October 6, 2017

Monsanto adds NemaStrike Technology as a new seed treatment solution to control nematode species across the Cotton Belt.

Product News

Americot Adds Three to Regional Sales Force

September 20, 2017

Americot, Inc. has added three new regional representatives to the company’s sales force.

Product News

Enlist One Herbicide Added to Enlist System

September 13, 2017

Dow AgroSciences adds a straight-goods 2,4-D choline herbicide for additional tank-mix flexibility in Enlist crops.

Product News

Elevore Herbicide Registered for Burndown Use

August 30, 2017

Dow AgroSciences’ Elevore herbicide has received federal registration for use in fall and spring burndown programs for cotton, soybeans and corn.

Product News

Stoneville Legacy Club Honors Charter Members

August 24, 2017

The new Stoneville Legacy Club honored 129 growers who recorded average yields of 1,794 lbs/A or higher on at least 20 acres with Stoneville cotton varieties.

Product News

Improved Bollworm Management Expected in 2018

August 23, 2017

Southeast Texas cotton farmers should have new tools available in 2018 to better manage bollworms and other potentially damaging pests.

Latest News
News

BASF Agrees to Buy Bayer’s Liberty and Seed Businesses

October 13, 2017

BASF has agreed to acquire significant parts of Bayer’s seed and non-selective herbicide businesses, including Liberty herbicide and the Stoneville and FiberMax cotton seed brands.

News

Monsanto, Deltapine Support Hurricane Recovery for Texas Ag

October 10, 2017

Monsanto and Deltapine is donating $200,000 to assist with ongoing agricultural recovery efforts in Texas caused by Hurricane Harvey.

News

Registration Open for 2018 Beltwide Cotton Conferences

October 10, 2017

Registration is now open for the 2018 Beltwide Cotton Conferences set for January 3-5 in San Antonio, TX.

News

Getting Ready for 2017 Census of Agriculture

October 2, 2017

Farmers and ranchers across the nation will soon start receiving the 2017 Census of Agriculture.

News

USDA Sets 2018 Marketing Assistance Loan Rate

October 2, 2017

The marketing assistance loan rate for 2018-crop base quality upland cotton has been set at 52.00 cents per pound.

News

Gap Inc. Joins Cotton LEADS Sustainability Program

September 28, 2017

Gap Inc. is the newest member of Cotton LEADS, a joint Australian/U.S. program aimed to promote responsible cotton production practices.

News

Cotton Inc. Names First Chief Sustainability Officer

September 18, 2017

Dr. Jesse Daystar has been named Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer for Cotton Incorporated.

News

Cotton Highlights from September WASDE Report

September 12, 2017

Higher U.S. production, exports and ending stocks are anticipated for cotton, based on the USDA WASDE report for September.

News

Texas High Plains Hoping for Bigger Cotton Crop

September 10, 2017

Weather forecasts are favorable for crop maturity and a higher crop potential in the Texas High Plains.

News

Harvey Slams Coastal TX Cotton Industry

September 8, 2017

Hurricane Harvey and its after-effects have the Coastal Texas cotton industry reeling, according to Texas A&M AgriLife experts.

News

Webcast Focuses on Foliar Diseases in Cotton

August 30, 2017

A new webcast to help identify and manage foliar diseases in cotton has been added to the Focus on Cotton online series from the Plant Management Network and Cotton Incorporated.

News

NCC Statement re: Hurricane Harvey

August 28, 2017

The National Cotton Council has issued a statement regarding damage to the South Texas cotton industry from Hurricane Harvey.

News

DuPont and Dow Merger to Close August 31

August 7, 2017

The merger of DuPont and Dow Chemical will be official at the end of August.

News

Proper Tank Cleaning Focus of New Webcast

August 4, 2017

A new webcast on methods for proper tank cleaning of sprayer systems has been added to the Focus on Cotton online series from the Plant Management Network and Cotton Incorporated.

News

Southeast, Western Cotton Growers Set for Texas P.I.E. Tour

August 2, 2017

Fifteen growers from the Southeast and California will visit cotton operations in Texas in mid-August as part of the NCC’s 2017 Producer Information Exchange Program.