Plant counts

The frostier weather this week might provide a good opportunity to carry out plant counts on winter crops.

Plant counts will allow you to manage your crops appropriately for the number of plants that have established.

Advice on plant counts from Teagasc is detailed on this week’s tillage pages 36-37. Take a number of plant counts across fields and average them out.

How to take a plant count

A very easy way to do a plant count is to take a measuring tape and count the number of rows drilled across 1m.

There are often eight rows in a one-pass system, but this will change with drills. Strip-till drills will be much lower.

You then take your measuring tape and turn it along the rows and count the number of individual plants along one side of the tape for 1m or for 50cm and multiply the number by two.

You then multiply the two figures by each other. The number of plants in 1m multiplied by the number of rows gives you the plant count per metre squared.


The wet weather continued this week and is not helping with fieldwork, but hopefully drier weather will come towards the end of the month and into March for spring planting.


As the seed shortage hits home, there will no doubt be some offers of seed from sources which are not your usual sellers. It is illegal to sell uncertified seed, so you should not purchase seed unless it has been certified by the Department of Agriculture. There is plenty of grain being tested in sheds, and this is no harm to see once it is for the farmer’s own use and royalties are paid to breeders.

However, germination is low on much of this seed and so quality will be questionable. If you think you have some grain suitable for seed, make sure you test that grain for germination. The Department of Agriculture’s seed lab will test samples for farmers. A germination test requires 1kg of seed, and costs €14.76 undressed, and dressed seed can be tested for €22.14.

Certified seed has a germination percentage of at least 85%. A derogation was secured this year to allow the germination percentage on certified seed to be as low as 75%. The seed rate will need to increase on this seed.

The best thing to do to try and secure high-quality seed is order it early and take delivery of that seed as soon as possible.


There have been no clarifications on the three-crop rule or how to deal with bare patches. There is no doubt that planting bare patches with spring cereal seed is somewhat of a waste. Hopefully sense will prevail and farmers will not have to move drills into those patches to meet conditionality requirements.


If you are still waiting on payments from the Department of Agriculture please let us know. Many of you were paid last week for numerous schemes. The tillage support payment of €50/ha on up to 100ha was issued last week.