How many wheat plants do you need?

Page last updated: Wednesday, 28 February 2018 - 10:39am

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Do you know if your wheat seeding rate this year was correct? If you don't know, would you like to find out?

One of the easiest ways to work out if your seeding rate was correct this year is to measure your wheat crops establishment and now is the time to get out and do it.

Measuring your wheat plant establishment

The table below gives you the details you need to work out the number of plants per square metre. You only need to remember the numbers that correspond with your row spacing.

Table 1 Information to help you work out the number of plants per metre
Crop row spacing (inches) Crop row spacing (cm) Count plants per metre of crop row and multiply by this number to get plants/m2
7 18 5.6
9 23 4.4
10 25 4
12 30 3.3
14 35 2.8

Three steps to measuring your plant establishment

  1. Get out your tape measure and place a one metre length in the furrow next to your wheat crop, or stand in a furrow next to your wheat crop with your feet about a metre apart (better than not doing it at all!). Then count the number of plants along the metre of your ruler or between your feet. Record the number; you can do it a few times if you wish.
  2. Once you have finished counting your one metre lengths, work out the average number of wheat plants by adding up the measurements and dividing them by the number of measurements you made.
  3. Using Table 1, multiply the average number by the figure in row three which corresponds with your row spacing to work out the number of plants per square metre.

For example:
Nine plants per metre x 5.6 = 50.4 plants per square metre.

I’ve worked out my plant establishment rate – what next?

Once you have worked out the number of plants per square metre you can then work out the potential yield that will come from these plants. Table 2 below gives some information on what you can expect from your plant counts. From this information you can see the relationship between your seeding rate, the number of plants per square metre and the subsequent yield from these factors.

Table 2 Plant population required to achieve yield potential from The Wheat Book (2000)
Anticipated yield potential (t/ha) Target plant population (plants per square metre) Target plant population (plants per metre)
1.0 50 9
2.0 100 18
3.0 150 27
4.0 200 36

How did you go? Does your wheat establishment give you the potential yield that you expected? Now is a great opportunity to review your seeding period and work out what you need to do to reach the optimum plant population for next season.

Contact information


Georgia Trainor