Maine Grain and Oilseed Newsletter, Vol. 3, No. 2 – May 2015

In this issue:

Dear Grower,

Planting season is upon us. A bit of a late start for most, so keep in mind that you should be bumping up your small grain seeding rates accordingly. The recommended increase is 1% per day after May 8. If you are using the plant population method to determine seeding rates, your upper limit for plants per acre should be 1.6 million. In this issue you will find articles on “Planting Cereals by Population,” “Inspection and Certification of Grains,” “Field Pea Variety Trial” report, and a note from FSA on conservation certification.

Best of luck to you during planting,
Andrew Plant, Extension Agriculture Educator
Ellen Mallory, Sustainable Agriculture Specialist

57 Houlton Road, Presque Isle, ME 04769
207.764.3361 or 1.800.287.1462

Planting Cereals by Population: The Effect of Seeds/lb

Tom Molloy and Andrew Plant, University of Maine Cooperative Extension

Historically, seeding rates for cereals were often recommended in bu/acre or lbs/acre. Because cereals can compensate for under- or over-seeding by adding or terminating tillers, this method of planting was considered “good” enough. More recently there has been a shift to recommending growers use target populations for their grain crops, much like corn or soybean growers. This method of planting realizes that there is an optimum plant population for cereal crops depending on variables such as fertility and planting date which will maximize yield potential with the most efficient use of seed. For a description on how to calculate seeding rates using populations, see this article from a previous copy of the Maine Grain and Oilseed Newsletter.

The major problem with the bu/acre or lbs/acre seeding method is that final seeding rates can be much higher or lower than optimum because they do not account for the variability found in the number of seeds/lb between different seed lots of the same variety nor between varieties of the same type of grain. The data in Table 1 comes from spring wheat variety trials conducted in Maine from 2011 to 2013 and demonstrates the variability found in seed lots and varieties. Looking at the number of seeds/lb between years (lots) you can see varieties such as Faller, Barlow and Jenna had seed counts that varied by as much as 34% from year to year. You can see similar differences between varieties, for example AC Superb and Barlow in 2013 differed by 40%.

Table 1 also contains columns that show the seeding rate for each variety in lbs/acre if calculated using a target population of 1.4 million seeds/acre and the corresponding number of seeds/lb for that variety. The information in these columns demonstrate that if you don’t use target populations and the number of seeds/lb to calculate your seeding rate, your seeding rate will likely vary by quite a bit from year to year.

Table 1. Number of seeds per pound and corresponding seeding rates for hard red spring wheat varieties sourced in 2011, 2012, and 2013.

2011 2012 2013
Number of Seeds/pound Seeding Rate (lb/acre)† Number of Seeds/pound Seeding Rate (lb/acre)† Number of Seeds/pound Seeding Rate (lb/acre)†
AC Barrie 16,157 87 12,687 110 13,432 104
AC Superb 10,231 137 10,180 138 10,558 133
Ada 12,256 114 11,906 118 11,833 118
Barlow 12,729 110 17,234 81 14,102 99
Brick 13,730 102 13,021 108 12,637 111
Faller 10,903 128 12,693 110 16,565 85
FBC Dylan 13,079 107 12,495 112 11,342 123
Glenn 14,082 99 13,885 101 15,123 93
Jenna 12,314 114 10,940 128 14,537 96
Magog 11,350 123 12,204 115 10,318 136
Oklee 13,104 107 14,099 99 13,214 106
RB07 13,662 102 15,709 89 15,878 88
Red Fife 12,926 108 16,529 85 13,118 107
Roblin 14,426 97 11,940 117 12,018 116
Sabin 14,038 100 13,552 103 13,428 104
Steele 14,608 96 15,125 93 13,969 100
Tom 12,509 112 12,315 114 11,986 117
Ulen 15,979 88 15,967 88 15,567 90
Walton 10,682 131 14,693 95 10,989 127
Yorkton 13,590 103 14,188 99 13,568 103
Average 13,118 108 13,568 105 13,209 108

† Based on a target seeding rate of 1.4 million seeds/acre. This does not take into account percent germination and estimated stand loss, which would increase seeding rates by 10 to 20%.

Table 2 is from a malting barley variety trial to be planted this year here in Maine. Like the spring wheat table, columns 1 and 2 show the differences in the number of seeds/lb found between the varieties and the corresponding seeding rates associated with these differences. The third column in this table shows what the populations would be if just planted at a standard 2.75 bu/acre (132 lbs/acre). When planting before May 8 the recommend seeding rate for barley is 1.275 million plants/acre and column 4 shows that many of the varieties would have missed this recommended seeding rate by greater than 10%.

Table 2. Number of seeds per pound and corresponding seeding rates for malting barley varieties sourced in 2015.

Number of Seeds/pound Seeding Rate (lb/acre)† Plant Population planted at 2.75 bu/acre Percent off from targeted rate of 1.275 mil/ac
AAC Synergy 9,309 137 1,228,788 -4
AC Metcalfe 10,179 125 1,343,677 5
Newdale 11,468 111 1,513,716 19
Cerveza 10,403 123 1,373,236 8
CDC Copeland 9,468 135 1,249,802 -2
CDC Meredith 8,404 152 1,109,367 -13
Bentley 8,916 143 1,176,905 -8
Harrington 12,290 104 1,622,306 27
Robust 11,650 109 1,537,798 21
Klages 12,828 99 1,693,360 33
Conlon 9,732 131 1,284,630 1
ND Genesis 9,808 130 1,294,621 2
Pinnacle 9,313 137 1,229,292 -4
Full Pint 8,995 142 1,187,398 -7
Scarlett 11,771 108 1,553,746 22
Innovation 11,361 112 1,499,700 18
Tradition 11,439 111 1,509,902 18
ND22421 10,603 120 1,399,533 10
Quest 12,304 104 1,624,065 27
Lacey 10,792 118 1,424,483 12
Average 10,552 121 1,392,816 9

† Based on a target seeding rate of 1.275 million seeds/acre. This does not take into account percent germination and estimated stand loss, which would increase seeding rates by 10 to 20%.

Because the number of seeds/lb can variable from seed lot to seed lot, it is not recommend that growers plant using a standard bu/acre or lb/acre seeding rate. Many growers currently adjust seeding rates based on % germination, which on certified seed needs to be greater then 90%. This means that many growers are making seeding rate adjustments based on a variable that can only differ by less then 10%. As shown in the two tables, if growers don’t try to account for the variability in the number of seeds/lb then they could be over- or under-seeding by an amount potentially much greater than 10%.

Inspection and Certification of Small Grains

Steven B. Johnson, Ph.D, Crop Specialist, University of Maine

Some of the major US grain-producing states have regulations requiring small grain seed to be certified if planted. The State of Maine does have a seed certification program for small grain seed but does not have regulations requiring planting of certified small grain seed. Buyers may require planting of certified seed but the State of Maine does not. Seed may not hold its identity or be able to be marketed as a specific variety if has not been certified for a set number of years.

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry is the designated official agency certifying the varietal purity, quality, vitality and health of seeds of field crops. They have been getting increased requests for small grain certification owing to the increasing acreage and diversity of small grain seed production in Maine. Chapter 261 (01-001 Chapter 261) deals with regulations governing production, certification, testing, storing and preparation for sale of field seed.

Maine recognizes four classes of seed: Breeder, Foundation, Registered, and Certified.

Breeder seed is not typically a seed of commerce and is only available from a recognized plant breeder who is responsible for the maintenance breeding of that variety under conditions which have insured that the specific characteristics of the variety have been maintained. This seed class provides the source for the initial and recurring increases of Foundation, Registered, and Certified classes of seed.

Foundation seed is the approved progeny of Breeder or Foundation Seed and is produced by seed growers authorized for the production of seed of this class. This is certified by Maine State inspectors and is the highest class of seed of commerce.

Registered seed is the approved progeny of Breeder or Foundation Seed and is supervised and approved by Maine State inspectors.

Certified seed is the approved progeny of Breeder, Foundation, or Registered Seed and is supervised and approved by Maine State inspectors. This is the most common class of seed of commerce.

Plantings entered as Foundation or Registered class that do not meet these standards can be reclassified and marketed as Certified seed, if the planting meets the standards for Certified seed.

Part of the certification process includes site selection. The crop the previous season cannot have been a different variety of the same crop, an inseparable species, or the same variety that did not arise from certified seed. Producing certified seed of more than one variety on the farm requires pre approval from the certifying agency.

Meeting seed standards also includes a growing season field inspection of the planting by a Maine State inspector. At the time of the inspection, detrimental conditions can lead to the planting being reclassified or outright rejected for seed certification. Detrimental conditions include excessive weed growth or presence of noxious weeds. Lack of vigor, lack of uniformity, contamination, or presence of disease beyond the limits established may also make the planting ineligible for certification. Certification requires seed from fields having more than 0.5% smut to be treated with a fungicide approved by the Commissioner of Agriculture.

The storage and processing facility for any of the classes of certified seed has to be approved. In addition, there is a mandatory inspection of a harvested sample of the grain to be certified. This sample will be observed for inert matter and weed seed contamination. Additionally, a germination test will be performed in in accordance with sections 2 to 4 of the rules of the Association of Official Seed Analysts. If the seed passes all the requirements, tags identifying crop, variety, and germination will be issued by the certifying agency. I have included the field standards for small grain seed (01-001 Chapter 261):

Maximum Each Class
Factor Foundation or Registered Certified
Other varieties 0.02% 0.05%
* Inseparable other crops 1 per acre 5 per acre
Bunt 0.00% 0.00%
** Other smuts 0.5% 2.0%
Pure seed
   Oats 98.0% 98.0%
   Wheat, Barley, Rye, Buckwheat  96.0% 96.0%
Inert matter
   Oats 2.0% 2.0%
   Wheat, Barley, Rye, Buckwheat 4.0% 4.0%
Weed seed 2 per lb. 2 per lb.
Noxious weed seed 0.00% 0.00%
Other seeds (no rye or vetch allowed) 1 per 2 lbs. 2 per lb.
Other varieties — same crop 0.02% 0.05%
Germination 90.0% 90.0%
Except Rye which shall be 80.0% 80.0%


*No rye, vetch, or winter barley seed is permitted in wheat.

**Seed from fields having more than 0.5% other smuts shall be treated with a fungicide approved by the Commissioner.

Note: Rye shall be 660 feet from fields which would be a source of contamination.

2014 Field Pea Variety Trial Results

Tom Molloy and Ellen Mallory, University of Maine

Salamanca, the tallest variety at 49 inches, on July 10
Salamanca, the tallest variety at 49 inches, on July 10.


Interest in field peas in Maine stems from the need for viable rotation crops for organic grain production and from increasing demand for organic and non-GMO feed grains for dairy, chicken, and other livestock. Field peas can break small grain disease cycles, are grown with the same production equipment as small grains, and as legumes, fix all of the nitrogen required for the crop.

We conducted two trials, in 2013 and 2014, to assess the feasibility of organic field pea production in Maine. Because field peas are normally grown in more arid climates, there is concern that our humid conditions could exacerbate disease and lodging issues. In addition, field peas are thought to be less competitive with weeds, which under organic production practices could negatively impact yields and cause an increase in the weed seed bank.

Growing Peas with Cereals, 2013

In 2013, we conducted a trial at the University of Maine’s Aroostook Farm in Presque Isle looking at the practice of growing peas in mixes with barley or oats. It is thought that cereal/pea mixes could reduce the risk of lodging and improve crop competiveness with weeds. Yield results from this trial were encouraging, with monocrop peas yielding just under 4000 lbs/acre. Yields were similar for the oat/pea mixture and lower for the barley/pea mixtures (3000 to 3600 lbs/ac depending on barley variety). Weed pressure at this site was low and no major differences in weed biomass were observed among the treatments. Lodging was widespread, fairly uniform throughout the site, and could not be linked to any one seeding practice. See a complete summary of this trial.

Variety Trial, 2014

In 2014, we conducted a variety trial at the University of Maine’s Rogers Farm in Old Town comparing 15 varieties of monocrop field peas (Table 1). All of the varieties were determinate, semi-leafless grain types, meaning they tend to be shorter and have more tendrils then forage type peas, which makes them less susceptible to lodging.

Table 1. Varieties and suppliers for the 2014 field pea variety trial.

Variety Supplier (source) Cotyledon or
seed color
Abarth Pulse USA Yellow
AC Agassiz Meridian seeds (Leo Vojto Glenham SD) Yellow
AC Earlystar Meridian seeds (Canterra Seeds) Yellow
AC Thunderbird Meridian seeds (NDSU) Yellow
Bridger Legume Logic (Great Northern Ag) Yellow
Daytona Meridian seeds (Leo Vojto Glenham SD) Green
DS Admiral Pulse USA Yellow
Jetset Meridian seeds (NDSU) Yellow
Korando Pulse USA Yellow
Mystique Pulse USA Yellow
Navarro Legume Logic (Great Northern Ag) Yellow
Nette Pulse USA Yellow
Salamanca Legume Logic (Great Northern Ag) Yellow
Spider Legume Logic (Great Northern Ag) Yellow
SW Midas Pulse USA Yellow


The previous crop at this site was conventional potatoes and the soil type was Melrose fine sandy loam. The field was harrowed two times prior to planting. No fertility was applied and the peas were inoculated with a pea/lentil inoculant. The varieties were planted on May 9 with an Almaco small-plot cone seeder with 6.5-inch row spacing. The target plant density was 9 plants/ft2 or 390,000 plants/acre. Plots were tine harrowed with a Lely weeder on May 29 when the peas were approximately 4 inches tall, and harvested on August 19 with a Wintersteiger small plot combine.



Timely planting, early vigorous growth, and tine weeding may have contributed to the overall excellent level of weed control found within the plots. Background weed pressure was high at this site, with common lambsquarters, redroot pigweed, and hairy galinsoga found in high numbers in the alleyways and plot edges. However, weed biomass in the plots, ranked visually at harvest, was very low for all of the varieties tested.


Diseases are a concern for peas and can cause yield loss at all growth stages. This is particularly true in Maine where average rainfall is much higher than in the arid regions where field peas are typically grown. Few diseases were noted up through flowering with the exception of Rhizoctonia. This disease is a common root rot fungi found in soils and can attack susceptible plants at any growth stage. Small patches were noted at the beginning and throughout flowering, and the disease became more widespread as the plants started to dry down. No differences in Rhizoctonia incidence or severity were noted among the varieties. White mold (Sclerotinia) was found in the plots as the plants started to lodge.

Plant heights and lodging

Plant height, taken on July 10, toward the end of flowering, averaged 46 inches for all varieties (Table 2). None were shorter than 42 inches, which is on the extreme end for these shorter stature varieties and most likely contributed to lodging. Varieties with the most severe lodging included Navarro, Nette, and, Spider, while Bridger, Mystique, and Salamanca showed the least lodging.


Pea grain yields averaged 3517 lb/acre for the trial and ranged from 2706 lbs/acre for Navarre to 4426 lbs/acre for Spider (See Table 2). While there is little historical yield information for dry peas in Maine, yields from these trials compare with with other major dry pea production regions, and with our 2014 results.

Table 2. Days to flowering, flowering duration, plant height, lodging, test weight, and yield of field peas in 2014.

Days to flowering (DAP†) Flowering duration (DAP) Plant Height (inches) Lodging (0-9 scale‡) Test weight (lbs/bu) Yield§ (lbs/acre)
Abarth 46 14 45 6 61.0 3176
AC Agassiz 48 22 44 6 61.0 3069
AC Earlystar 52 18 46 7 61.6 4300
AC Thunderbird 53 17 43 7 61.9 3001
Bridger 48 11 46 4 61.3 3623
Daytona 53 10 45 8 60.5 3211
DS Admiral 52 10 48 7 61.2 4169
Jetset 52 10 44 7 61.6 3757
Korando 48 11 42 7 62.0 4144
Mystique 52 18 46 3 62.0 3403
Navarro 46 14 47 9 59.9 2706
Nette 48 11 43 9 62.0 3709
Salamanca 52 10 49 4 61.3 3310
Spider 52 10 48 9 61.6 4426
SW Midas 48 11 45 7 61.4 3133
Site average 50 13 46 7 61.3 3517
LSD (0.05) 7 1 1.0 1011

Days after planting
0 = no lodging, 9 = severe lodging
§ Yield at 13.5% moisture


Results from our two years of trials are encouraging for the feasibility of dry pea production in Maine. Overall yields were good to excellent in trials. While diseases were more prevalent in 2014 than in 2013, the impact on yield was limited because the diseases were not widespread until the plants started to dry down. Sites (soil drainage) and weather conditions most likely contributed to differences in disease rates between years. In both years, peas proved to be very competitive with weeds. Lodging occurred in both years and was severe in many of the varieties in 2014. Lodging and ease of harvest continue to be a concern for dry pea production in Maine. In addition, deer damage was widespread in the 2014 trial and should be considered in areas with high populations.

Variety trials will continue in 2015. Four to five varieties will be compared at the University of Maine Aroostook Farm in Presque Isle, the University of Maine Rogers Farm in Old Town, and on an organic farm in Benedicta as part of a SARE Farmer Grant project. At the latter two sites swathing will be investigated as a way to avoid lodging and speed up dry down.

Farmers Must File Conservation Certification Form by June 1

By June 1, 2015, farmers must file a Highly Erodible Land Conservation and Wetland Conservation Certification form (AD-1026) with the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) in order to become or remain eligible for premium subsidy on crop insurance policies in the 2016 reinsurance year (July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016). Farmers and any affiliated persons must be in compliance with the Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation provisions.

Farmers participating in USDA programs such as marketing assistance loans, farm storage facility loans, and disaster assistance may already have a certification form on file. However farmers, such as specialty crop growers who receive federal crop insurance premium support, but may not participate in other USDA programs, must now file a certification form to maintain insurance premium support.

Farmers should contact their local FSA office to verify their form is on file. Form AD-1026 is available at local USDA service centers or at the USDA website (PDF).

Visit the Maine Risk Management and Crop Insurance Program website.

Information on this website is provided purely for educational purposes. No responsibility is assumed for any problems associated with the use of products or services mentioned. No endorsement of products or companies is intended, nor is criticism of unnamed products or companies implied.

© 2015

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