Evaluating spring small grains stands

Taking a stand count early in the season when the crop has emerged is a good practice. It allows you to evaluate whether your seedbed preparation and planting went as planned. You can also evaluate whether your intended stand can be achieved.

Stand counts are simple to do and take just a little extra effort while you’re scouting for weeds and/or early-season fungal diseases. The easiest time to take a stand count is when the crop is in the 2- to 3-leaf stage because tillers aren’t yet visible.

How to take a stand count

To do a stand count, use one of the following two methods.

Method one

  1. Count the number of plants in a foot of row at several locations in the field.

  2. Take an average and convert to plants per acre using Table 1.

Table 1 shows the average number of plants per foot of row, based on different row spacings and plant densities per acre.

Table 1: Converting plants per foot of row to plants per acre

Row width 800,000 plants per acre 900,000 plants per acre 1.0 million plants per acre 1.1 million plants per acre 1.2 million plants per acre 1.3 million plants per acre 1.4 million plants per acre 1.5 million plants per acre
6 inches 9.2 plants 10.3 plants 11.5 plants 12.6 plants 13.8 plants 14.9 plants 16.1 plants 17.2 plants
7 inches 10.7 plants 12.1 plants 13.4 plants 14.7 plants 16.1 plants 17.4 plants 18.7 plants 20.1 plants
10 inches 15.3 plants 17.2 plants 19.1 plants 21.0 plants 23.0 plants 24.9 plants 26.8 plants 28.7 plants
12 inches 18.4 plants 20.7 plants 23.0 plants 25.3 plants 27.5 plants 29.8 plants 32.1 plants 34.4 plants

Method two

  1. Take a hula-hoop, let it fall and count the number of plants inside the hoop.

  2. Repeat this at random several times across the field and calculate an average.

  3. Use Table 2 to convert the count to an approximate population per acre.

Table 2 shows adjustment factors to multiply the number of plants inside a hoop and convert the number to plants per acre

Table 2: Adjustment factors to convert to plants inside a hoop to plants per acre

Hoop diameter Multiply by
30 inches 8,900
32 inches 7,800
34 inches 6,900
36 inches 6,200
38 inches 5,500

Jochum Wiersma, Extension agronomist

Reviewed in 2018

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