Author (#31): March 2010 Archives
I don’t farm, I am just an all-knowing farm writer. But, one of the most common messages I hear from the experts is for producers to keep the seeding rate up.
There are several benefits to this, which first includes simply having enough plants in the field to optimize your yield, but it is also important for choking out weeds and other benefits.
And in talking with a few producers for March 22 farmer panel of Grainews (which will be out this week) this is also an important consideration for them, as well. Their experience shows that not all grains (or varieties) are created equal and as good as seeding technology is today, it is worth checking to make sure the equipment is delivering what is supposed to do?
I know producers are always looking for fun things to do, to fill that spare time after seeding, but I think it would be interesting once the crop emerges to go back and actually do a few square foot counts to see if you really do have the number of plants growing according to recommendations.
The recommendations vary, so it is best to check with provincial departments of agriculture or a local crop consultant for their advice on the matter. On the Alberta Agriculture website for example, plant populations for most grains – wheats, oats and barleys – should average 20 to 24 plants per square foot, with canola it could range from 7 to 15 plants per square foot, with peas about seven plants per square foot, lentils about 12 plants, and there are figures for other crops as well.
Since varieties and seed batches can vary, one often-recommended exercise for determining the proper seeding rate is to use the 1000 kernel weight formula. Crop advisor Steve Larocque, of Beyond Agronomy in Three Hills, Alberta, recommends this five step process for calculating cereal seeding rate:
- Take a germination and vigor test. I like to have a disease test done as well to determine what seed treatments we should be focusing on to control any seed born infections, or find another seed supply.
- Count out 1,000 kernels. Before you say yah right Steve, you can count out 100 seeds and multiply it by 10 to get your thousand kernels. You may call it cheating, but I call it efficiency and know that the either method yields you the same number.
- Choose a target plant stand density per square foot. You can get an idea by looking at Ropintheweb's seeding rate information at http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/agdex81?opendocument#targetlook.
- Estimate the seedling mortality. For example, I use four percent mortality on wheat and barley for the farms I work with based on experience. You may see more or less mortality depending on your seeding practices.
- Plug the numbers in the formula to determine your seeding rate (lbs/ac).
Here’s the formula: seeding rate (lb/ac) = desired plant population/ft² x 1,000 K wt. (g) ÷ seedling survival rate (in decimal form such as 0.90) ÷ factor of 10.4
So if your 1000 kernels of seed weighed 35 grams and you want a stand of 30 wheat plants per square foot, and you expect 90 percent seedling survival, the actual calculation would look like this:
30 plants/ft² x 35 g ÷ 0.90 ÷ 10.4 = 112 lb/acre seeding rate.
I think the Olympics are over – or at least the first round. The Paralympics are yet to come – but it is time I moved on with my thoughts. Blogging is like fish – it is always better fresh, so I am sure a few people are wondering what died on the Grainews webpage.
On a fresh topic, it was interesting to see in a recent news release that the Beef Information Centre (www.beefinfo.org) has partnered with Costco to make available a handy guide on how to cut meat at home. I don’t imagine this is encouraging people to buy a carcass to be cut and wrapped on the kitchen table. But aimed more at those who buy larger portion sizes, which is what you often find at Costco, and then want to repackage this meat. The release mentions sub-primal cuts such as strip loins, rib eyes and tenderloins.
Our experience – in our house - in the past few months or year timeframe, is that Costco has very good meat. Beef, pork, chicken – whatever you buy it is good quality, flavorful, tender, and reasonably priced. Sometimes the portion sizes or packaging is a bit big, but otherwise their meat has few surprises.
I don’t want this to get back to my brother-in-law, from whom we bought beef for several years, but to be honest you were never really sure what you were getting. Many of the quality factors were fine, except with tenderness. You’d have a nice steak or roast, with what appeared to be good marbling and yet it was always wait-n-see if it was tender. And sometimes the nicest looking cuts weren’t all that tender.
We haven’t bought a side a beef for a year or so, for a couple reasons, but in the meantime my wife and I have really been impressed with Costco meats. And I think this meat-cutting guide called Slice and Save is a great idea, too. We can buy a quantity or cut that may be too large for a usual portion, but we and other consumers, will get some advice on how to re-package and freeze smaller portions for later use.
That’s a good marketing strategy.
One other aspect of retail meat sales I wish BIC or retailers could simplify at a glance, is how different cuts stack up for tenderness. BIC has a very nice wall chart that gives you the names of the cuts and where they come from on the carcass – and there is a tenderness rating - but that wall chart doesn’t fit into my wallet. There are 150 different cuts of meat on that chart. I am suppose to memorize this?
I think meat counters should have three sections – Tender, Not Bad, and Tough. And maybe the individual cuts should have one of three little sticker symbols on the packaging – a fork (for fork tender); a steak knife (needs some help); and a chain saw (which means you have to boil the heck out of this).
As I have discovered over the years, not everything with sirloin in the name is created equal.