So, when you say drilling, does that imply narrower rows? Like maybe 6 or 7.5 inches? If so, I think I get what you're saying now. I want to try your recommendations (130 lb/acre seed, no weeding) next year.
When I was planning back in November, I saw the rate of 130 lb / acre
that you recomend, but I also saw that the seed distributor recommended 85 lb / acre
. I wasn't sure which one was correct, and I went with lower rates for a few reasons:
The field manager warned me about the weed seeds in the field, so I wanted to be able to walk through and cultivate by hand. I also wanted to be able to walk through to apply pesticide and fungicide if required. I chose 14" rows based on research done in wheat
at Ohio State, indicating that yield only drops 5-15% when you plant 15" rows at 25 seeds / foot, compared to 7.5" rows at the same linear seeding rate (twice the lb / acre). I thought that I might easily loose more than 5-15% to hardy weeds, and that the wider rows would be worth it. I also assumed that barley would behave similarly to wheat. I didn't want to exceed the linear seeding rate in the study, to avoid the competition you mentioned. 14" rows at 25 seeds / foot equals 94 lb / acre, assuming 10,000 seeds / lb, a typical value for Conlon
So, I planted 1/3 of my field (the middle plot) at 24 seeds / foot, or 90 lb / acre. (This was the seeding rate that two passes down each row with my Earthway seeder gave.) I chose to plant the other 2/3 at 45 lb / acre (12 seeds / foot, or one pass with the Earthway) because light is limited by nearby trees. I was concerned that if I asked my shady field to perform at the high seeding rates recommended for open plains, I might actually reduce yield. I don't know if that assumption is true for barley or not -- what do you think?
The same NDSU article
as above states that planting Conlon at 50 lb / acre only decreases yield by 15% (not 50% or more), because of increased tillering at the lower density. To me, this justified the lower planting rate --I would be sure not to exceed the intrinsic yield of the shady field, but if I undershoot the optimal rate, tillering will still get me within 15% of the maximum yield. Anyway, If the crop works, I will separate the harvest from the two seeding rates and compare yields.
If I guessed wrong on all my assumptions, I'll only lose 15% yield due to underseeding and another 15% due to the worst-case losses with 14" rows, or 28% all together. At the time I planted, I figured that weeds and overseeding might easily decrease yield by more than 28%.
Your recommendation might still be the way to go. I'll try it next year and compare results -- I wish I had talked to you back in November!