Doing Plant Counts in Your Cereals

Yield potential in cereals is a function of three components:  number of heads per unit area (plant population), kernel number per head and kernel weight.  A decrease or increase in any of these components can directly impact final yields.  So the seeding operation is the critical first step in maximizing yield potential as it is important that you begin with an optimal plant population.

After your cereal crops emerges, evaluating plant stands is an important step to take in order to gauge crop productivity.  It is always a good idea to go back to the field and do some plant stand counts to assess your seeding operation or even your planting equipment.

May 10, 2016_de Rocquigny, Pam

Taken May 10, 2016 (Photo by: P. de Rocquigny)

A quick and easy way to do plant stand counts to determine the length of row needed to equal one square foot (see table below). Then count the plants in that length of row.  Do this several times in a field and calculate an average plant stand per square foot.  Try to choose random areas of the field and try to avoid selecting the ‘best’ or ‘worst’ parts of the field.

Length of row needed for 1 square foot.
Row Width (in) Row Length for 1 sq ft
(ft) (in)
6 2.0 24.0
7 1.7 20.6
7.5 1.6 19.2
8 1.5 18.0
10 1.2 14.4


Or if you don’t have the table handy, divide 144 (the number of inches in a square row) by the row width in inches. The answer is the number of inches of each row you need to count plants in to equal a square foot. For example, for 8 inch rows, 144/8 = 18 inches (once again, see table above). If you count the number of plants in 18 inches of row, you then know the plant stand per square foot.

Good luck with your plant stand counts!


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