Finding the best seeding rate for the farm can perplex many farmers — where is the balance between too few and too many seeds, and how can you tell if you’re getting the population right? While most seed companies will provide a seeding rate recommendation, it helps to know for yourself why it matters.
As you can see from 2018 data from Illinois and Minnesota, the highest yields from FBN network farmers were achieved where seeding rates were around 36,000-38,000 seeds per acre.
In both states, yields increased with seeding rates, up to 36,000-38,000 seeds per acre. However, above 38,000, yields decreased—most likely because competition for resources caused diminishing returns.
In South Dakota, however, the greatest yield average occurred at 34,000-36,000 seeds per acre; and in North Dakota, it occurred at a lower rate of 32,000-34,000 seeds per acre (34,000-36,000 was only 1 bushel lower, with the significant drop occurring at over 36,000). This just goes to show that geography can have an impact on what works best for farmers. There’s not necessarily a one-size-fits-all solution.
The ideal seeding rate helps plants optimize light interception during grain fill, allowing each plant to make the most of the available sunlight - improving plant processes and enhancing yield potential. Once light interception has been maximized, a field’s response to increasing population will eventually diminish.
As we see in the data above, there is a point above which more seeds doesn’t lead to higher yields – so planting more seeds would simply mean increased seed costs without additional yield in return. Furthermore, the seeding rate that maximizes profitability may not be the one that maximizes yield. Depending on your seed cost, a lower seeding rate that doesn’t maximize yield may actually be the most profitable, due to the savings in input costs from reduced seeding rate.
The planting data above is based on real-world farming data. I
nformation on seed hybrids has been aggregated across millions of acres of data
from 2018. Maturity range includes 108-114 days in Illinois; 93-106 days in Minnesota; 83-98 days in North Dakota; and 93-105 in South Dakota.