Stand Count analysis is relevant in all the growing phases of a crop, but conducting it at the emergence stage is the best time. For accurate remote sensing stand assessment, plants will have to be at least 12 cm (or 4 inches) tall.
How is stand count calculated?
Stand Count involves establishing the number of plants in a field and comparing it with the expected crop numbers, whereas plant population records only numbers. The plant stand count report goes beyond plant counting and gives growers the percentage and numbers of missing plants.
Growers are often confronted with how to calculate plant population per acre. Ground counts can be expensive, unreliable, and depend on the area sampled. Stand count drone analytics such as those provided by Agremo through a combination of AI, machine learning, and computer vision can give farmers insights into the whole farm precisely and quickly.
Stand count evaluation allows growers to check the emergence rate and make data-driven decisions for the entire crop season, as listed below.
1. Evaluate Seed Quality
Stand counts at early emergence provide an accurate picture of germination rate and seeding assessment. Usually, growers will have to sow more to get the desired population. For example, a stand count for soybean can help ensure a minimum of 100,000 plants per acre to get 90% of the targeted yield.
2. Replanting Decisions
If growers find they have less than the recommended crop population, they can consider replanting. They will have to weigh in other factors like the percentage difference in stand count, plant spacing, date of replanting, and maturity time of variety to decide if replanting will provide enough benefits in increased yield and ROI to justify replanting costs.
3. Identify Problems
The stand count report, followed by scouting zones of poor emergence, can provide insights into plant spacing, seedling vigor, and emergence uniformity, which growers can use to identify potential problems in their fields.
- Inconsistent spacing points to planter problems, so growers should check their machinery.
- Small gaps can be due to seed germination failure, pest and disease infestation, or excess herbicide or fertilizer application.
- Large empty zones can be due to waterlogging. Delbert G. Voight, Jr, Senior Extension Educator-Agronomy from the PennState Extension, says, “As you assess your fields, you may find large areas of the field may be drowned out in low-lying spots.” If the stand count on wheat indicates waterlogging, he recommends replanting these areas with corn or soybeans.
4. Agricultural Operations
With a zonal management tool, growers can apply stand count results to create management zones based on potential productivity for appropriate management. Growers can plan future agricultural operations proactively based on the zones. Farmers can vary irrigation, weeding, pest control, and nutrient supply using variable-rate applications.
5. Estimate Potential Yield Loss
Stand count assessments can be necessary for estimating yield in some crops. Stand count for corn is crucial, as the population is critical in deciding harvest. Whereas soybeans can compensate for some loss of population.
Importance of the Seedling Phase in the Crop Cycle
Growers can conduct stand counts after the emergence for year-round crop monitoring to get insights on the success of replanting or crop health. The seedling phase is crucial for plants’ rapid and robust establishment to get the desired population. Yield and resource use will depend on crop population. So, the seedling phase provides growers the maximum insights about the future of the crop to take proactive actions throughout the growing season, making it the best time for stand counts.