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Deep Planting Doesn't Work For SoybeansDeep Planting Doesn't Work For Soybeans

Keep planting depth at two inches or above for soybeans.

Tom Bechman 1

June 4, 2013

2 Min Read

Research repeated two years in a row proves that at least with warm soil, corn planted four inches deep emerges nearly as well and performs as well as corn planted at two or three inches deep. Sometimes it performs significantly better than corn planted one inch deep, depending upon conditions.

However, the same trend doesn't translate to soybeans. Shaun Casteel, Purdue Extension Soybean Specialist, has outlined in Indiana Prairie Farmer in the May and June issues that planting soybeans more than two inches deep trying to get to moist soil is risky, even when soils are warm. He does not recommend planting deeper than two inches below the soil surface for soybeans.


The difference is in how the plants germinate, he says. Corn produces a shoot, the coleoptile, that moves up through the soil and penetrates the surface. Starch within the kernel of the seed can keep it going until roots supply the energy needed. There is not bending needed by the corn plant. The only time it might get in trouble is if the surface is severely crusted, or if an herbicide reaction causes leafing out underground. Otherwise, it can emerge from as much as four inches deep.

Soybeans, on the other hands, are dicots, not monocots, like corn and most grasses. So the soybean splits in half and the hypocotyl, the part of the soybean stem that develops, must pull the halves, the cotyledons, above the ground. This requires force and is also difficult if the soil surface is hard or crusted. In those situations soybeans sometimes break their necks, which is the arched part of the hypocotyl, before it can pull the cotyledons through the soil. That plant is then done and will not produce a viable plant.

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

Tom Bechman is an important cog in the Farm Progress machinery. In addition to serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer, Tom is nationally known for his coverage of Midwest agronomy, conservation, no-till farming, farm management, farm safety, high-tech farming and personal property tax relief. His byline appears monthly in many of the 18 state and regional farm magazines published by Farm Progress.

"I consider it my responsibility and opportunity as a farm magazine editor to supply useful information that will help today's farm families survive and thrive," the veteran editor says.

Tom graduated from Whiteland (Ind.) High School, earned his B.S. in animal science and agricultural education from Purdue University in 1975 and an M.S. in dairy nutrition two years later. He first joined the magazine as a field editor in 1981 after four years as a vocational agriculture teacher.

Tom enjoys interacting with farm families, university specialists and industry leaders, gathering and sifting through loads of information available in agriculture today. "Whenever I find a new idea or a new thought that could either improve someone's life or their income, I consider it a personal challenge to discover how to present it in the most useful form, " he says.

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