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Establish A Good Soybean Stand

Establish A Good Soybean Stand

High yielding soybeans are achieved through improved and targeted management decisions. Establishing a uniform stand, and getting it off to a stress-free start, is very important. Agronomists offer guidelines to help growers achieve that goal.

Farmers are continually striving for higher yielding soybeans. The statewide average for Iowa is now more than 50 bushels per acre. There are a number of products being advertised and promoted that promise to help boost bean yields higher. However, putting more inputs into the management system will not improve your yield if the crop doesn't get off to a good start.

How do you establish a good, uniform stand of soybeans? Mark Grundmeier, soybean product manager at Latham Hi-Tech Seeds, has a few tips.

Pre-planting, use treated seed: The key to establishing a good soybean stand starts before planting with treated seed. Grundmeier says, "University after university study has proven the fact that seed treatments really are effective, and the benefits usually far outweigh the costs." He recommends a fungicide treatment to prevent damping off from the diseases Pythium, Rhizoctonia, Fusarium and Phytophthora, as well as for use in no-till fields in general.

Ideally, growers should use a fungicide plus insecticide treatment to help control wireworm, overwintering bean leaf beetles and early-season aphids.

Planting: Soybean plants are subject to 1,000 variables each growing season.  Proper planting is the most crucial variable and can have the most impact on performance. Grundmeier encourages growers to take the time to prepare their planter as they head into the field, and not to rush the crop into the ground when they do get there.

Many growers ask, "Just how fast is too fast?" when it comes to planting speed. Grundmeier says, "Remember, it's much more important to plant correctly than quickly." Below is a chart that shows the timing differences of seed placement when traveling 5.5 mph and 6.5 mph.

30" rows planted at 5.5 mph to achieve 30,000 seeds per acre

30" rows planted at 6.5 mph to achieve 30,000 seeds per acre

At this speed, each row unit is traveling 8 feet per second and dropping 14 seeds per second. If a seed is delayed 1/25th of a second, the seed will drop 3.2" late.

At this speed, each row unit is traveling 9.5 feet per second and dropping 16 seeds per second. If a seed is delayed 1/25th of a second, the seed will drop 3.8" late.

Soil conditions. It's vital to make sure your soil is ready to plant by checking the soil temperature and the condition of the soil. The ideal soil temperature should be no less than 50 degrees F at the 4-inch depth.  Wet soils are trouble from the start. Compaction resulting from wet soil can kill root growth. Grundmeier says, "Ensure that you are planting based on your soils' readiness, not the date on the calendar."

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