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What’s Really in the Bag? Percent by Coverage vs. Percent by Weight

What’s Really in the Bag? Percent by Coverage vs. Percent by Weight

Every once in a while I’ll receive a frantic email from a concerned customer that reads something like this:

“I was checking out the information on the tag of the pasture blend you just sent me, and I noticed the percentages on the tag are very different from the percentages you advertised on your website! Are you trying to rip me off? Please explain!”

Now I don’t blame anyone for their concern. I would probably do the same thing. But there’s a simple explanation for this. We’re not committing false advertisement – we’re actually trying to save you from a mathematical headache by simplifying the seed buying process.

Percent by Coverage

The key to understanding the difference between our advertised blend contents and what the tag says is the concept of percent by coverage vs. percent by weight. For example, let’s look at our Intermountain West Honey Bee Pasture Blend. On the webpage, this blend is listed with the following contents:

  • 30% White Dutch Clover
  • 30% Yellow Sweet Clover
  • 20% Alsike Clover
  • 10% Sainfoin
  • 5% Lacy Phacelia
  • 5% Bluebells


These percentages are by coverage. This means that if you were to plant this blend, once established you could expect your honey bee pasture to contain 30% white Dutch clover, 30% yellow sweet clover, 20% alsike clover, 10% sainfoin and so on. Displaying a blend like this makes it easy for folks to quickly visualize what their future pasture will look like.

 

Percent by Weight

However, seeds come in many sizes and have different seeding rates. Some species have larger seeding rates than others. In order to produce a pasture that contains the above percentages, it’s necessary to take into consideration the unique seeding rates for each species. Once we calculate and apply these seeding rates, the blend suddenly transforms into this:

  • 49.96% Sainfoin
  • 17.34% Yellow Sweetclover
  • 11.44% Bluebells
  • 8.34% Alsike Clover
  • 7.75% White Clover
  • 4.63% Lacy Phacelia


These percentages are by weight and reflect the actual contents of our Intermountain West Honey Bee Blend. As you can see, there is quite a difference between the coverage percentages and the percentages by weight. Because white clover seeds are so small, if this blend actually contained 30% white clover by weight, once planted it would establish almost entirely as white clover. On the other hand, because sainfoin seed is so big, it needs to make up half the blend by weight in order to make up 10% of the pasture once established.

 

Simplifying the Seed Buying Process

So really, we’re not trying to rip anyone off or mislead our customers. We’re simply trying to make it easier for you to buy seed. By displaying our blend contents as percent by coverage instead of percent by weight, we make it easier for you to know what you’re getting when purchasing from Nature’s Seed.

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