North Carolina State University Small Grains Specialist Randy Weisz recently showed a group of grain growers a series of large wheat plots planted at seeding rates ranging from 1.1 million seed per acre all the way up to 2 million seed per acre.

Weisz challenged the growers, back in mid-May, to tell him which plots were planted to which seeding rates. Few got it right.

“The point is, there appears to be very little difference in wheat, regardless of which seeding rate was used. On average that’s correct, but the averages can be deceiving and costly for wheat growers,” Weisz says

In similar tests, at the same farm near Rowland, N.C., last year, Weisz says average yields were only 2-4 bushels per acre higher from the top yielding plots to the lowest yielding plots.

Top yields came with a seeding rate of 1.3 to 1.5 million seed per acre, but there was very little difference in yield from 600,000 at the low end of the scale or 2 million seed per acre at the high end, compared to the highest yielding seeding rate.

Weisz conducted the same test at nine different locations and in one test the 600,000 seed per acre rate was the highest yielding seeding rate in the test. In a different test, the same low seeding rate was the worst yielding.

“This data is very important to wheat growers as they head into another fall planting season. At the low or the high end of the seeding rate chart, wheat yields vary greatly from farm to farm. One test is very high and another very low, providing a good average yield, but greatly increasing the risk factor, versus planting the more consistent seeding rate of 1.1 to 1.5 million seed per acre,” Weisz says.

Some of the ag dealers  in the southern end of North Carolina are recommending seeding rates of 2 million seed per acre. According to the North Carolina State wheat seeding rate tests, that rate is too high.

Again, the average yield is similar to what Weisz’s research team found with 1.3 to 1.5 million seed per acre, but the yield varied significantly from location to location.