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Select best varieties, check quality

Soybean variety information has been available on the Internet for several months. If you have not made your selection, I advise you to do so. We had an excellent harvest season, so seed quality should not be a major issue. Varieties with the best performance history will go first.

To meet your needs, companies must plan a year in advance of when varieties will be needed. Although this is difficult, it is frustrating that we do not plan better than we do.

In addition to offering many different varieties, companies would be better off growing larger quantities of two to four of their best lines.

If their competitors could not meet market demand, they could.

Every year the most sought after varieties are never available in sufficient quantities. This is the major point where I disagree with patented varieties. If you want to hold a patent, you need to supply the market. I can not think of another example where the free enterprise system fails except in this regard. If you go to Wal-Mart and want item X, you can get it; if they are out, they will have some more next week. It is on this basis that I question our current seed supply scenario.

After you have made varietal decisions, find out as much as you can about the quality of your planting seed.

As a result of the favorable growing and harvest season last year, I expect two things to happen: (1) seed as a whole should be of fairly high quality, and (2) seed size should be larger than average.

Regardless, there are two things you should do every year to allow you to better know the varieties you have purchased.

First, ask for the germination. If the test was not conducted within the last three months, run a new germination test.

Ask for any additional vigor tests that can help you determine the quality of your planting seed. If no additional tests were conducted, you should have additional tests run.

Seed vigor is very important, especially when planting under less than optimum conditions.

Additional tests will help you verify which materials, such as Thiram, Vitavax, etc., are needed as a seed treatment.

If you have some seed lots that are of less quality than others, plant them last or under more optimum conditions.

Take delivery of seed early or obtain as much information as possible prior to planting.

Lower-quality seed will translate into poor-quality, slow-growing plants — a condition you will live with season-long.

Under adverse harvest conditions, materials such as Thiram, Vitavax, and Maxim (examples) can improve germination. With the early-planting system a full-spectrum seed treatment is necessary. I am shocked producers still attempt to plant a crop with little or no seed protection.

All seed treatments are not created equal. Do not take a chance. Utilize a broad-spectrum treatment that includes Apron, plus a product such as Vitavax or Maxim.

Most of the broad spectrum mixes also include Thiram, a seed protectant.

Use of a broad-spectrum seed treatment can help avoid replanting.

A combination of high-quality seed, proper seed placement, a broad-spectrum seed treatment, and in some cases a bed plays a major role in getting a stand the first time.

Using the proper seed treatment is insurance. If a seed treatment saves you a replant just one year you will have paid for 10 to 12 years of seed treatments. Replanting will cost you yield, time and expense.

To reduce seed treatment costs, many farmers are using only Apron and Thiram. This is fine (at times), but if seed possess seedborne fungi this is not broad spectrum enough.

If you are planting early or have to do a lot of replanting every year, plan to protect your crop at the start. Seed treatments may not result in an increase in yield, but failure to use the proper seed treatment may result in replanting and this delay will cost you yield.

Alan Blaine is the Mississippi Extension soybean specialist. e-mail:

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