One of the main activities and services provided by the Indiana Crop Improvement Association from its office and lab facility in southern Tippecanoe County near Stockwell is to test various lots of corn and soybean seed submitted by seedsmen. Soybeans can be tested for germination in both cold warm tests, and if the producer desires, cold tests.
Many consultants recommend asking seedsmen how soybeans fared in the cold test. That mimics what could happen if soybeans lay in cool, wet souls for an extended period of time. As soybean planting date creeps forward whenever Mother Nature allows, it's important to know which varieties can withstand cold, damp weather and still take it in stride. There are definitely differences in how varieties react to environmental conditions.
Alan Galbraith, now executive director of the Indiana Crop Improvement Association, says so far germination and quality scores on seed samples for soybeans submitted to ICIA are running normal or above normal. The quality for samples he's seen so far is pretty good, he notes. Typically, germinations cores should be in the 90+ percentage rating for soybeans. For years, Purdue University seeding rate recommendations assumed 90% germination and 90% emergence. That's one reason the recommendations build in a large safety factor on the amount of beans that need to be seeded per acre. With better varieties and more sophisticated planting equipment, such as split-row planters equipped with residue-clearing wheels and elaborate closing systems, especially for no-till operations, most operations probably beat those numbers today.
Galbraith has worked at ICIA for decades. He replaces Larry Svagr, who was executive director of ICIS for decades. He recently retired to pursue other interests.
Galbraith also reports that seed size is relatively normal this year for most varieties. They judge that by seeds per pound. In past dry seasons, the count is often above 3,000 seeds per pound. That means adjustments in the planter or drill are necessary to prevent overplanting.
This year, however, seed size appears to be about normal. Many varieties are in the 2,700 to 3,000 seeds per pound range. Be sure you check the tag or ask your seedsman how many seeds per pound are in each variety and each lot of seed before calibrating planting rate. Otherwise, you could plant too much, wasting seed and actually setting up situations for lodging on good soils in good years.