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How to decide whether to replant small grains

If your small grains plant stand is less than optimum after emergence, carefully consider the following before deciding to replant:

  • Potential of the existing crop.

  • The cost associated with re-planting.

  • The likely yield with a late-seeded crop.

Evaluating the plant stand

Carefully evaluate plant stand by walking the field and counting plants. Plant stands look much worse than they really are from a quick glance at a distance.

If you have poor emergence or nonuniform damage, focus on the areas of the field you’ll likely need to replant. While maximum small grain yields are usually obtained from plant populations of 30 to 32 plants per square foot, you can get reasonable yields with populations as low as 14 plants per square foot.

Guide: How and when to count small grains stands

If you decide to replant, make sure your replanting costs can be recovered because the later-maturing crop has lower yield potential than the original seeding. In addition, soil moisture can be lost when replanting disturbs the soil again.

Deciding whether to replant

Use the following guidelines to determine if replanting is worthwhile:

  1. If reduced stand is uniform (i.e., no big skips or holes), keep stands of 15 plants per square foot.

  2. If you have large skips (3 to 6 feet) or holes (4 to 6 feet in diameter) and the stand is 18 plants per square foot or less, then replant if moisture is adequate.

  3. After June 1 in North Dakota and northern Minnesota, and May 15 in southern Minnesota, replant with a crop other than wheat or barley. When planting after these dates, yields reduce by about 50 percent compared to normal planting dates.

Jochum Wiersma, Extension agronomist, Joel Ransom, Extension agronomist and Vern Hofman, emeritus agricultural engineer, North Dakota State University

Reviewed in 2018

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