Shaun Casteel at Purdue University wrote about how soybean emergence and soybean establishment weren't the same thing when he penned his May column. If you've already planted soybeans and they've emerged, know is the time to find out the difference between emergence and establishment for yourself.
A big key according to Casteel is if emergence is even and uniform. Plants which emerge one to two growth stages later won't contribute as much to yield, if they contribute at all. They may help close canopy quicker, which can help on weed control and in conserving moisture, but it's not like having a uniform stand of plants.
You can check stands using the hula-hoop method. We're going to do it too, and then report on it in the June Exclusive feature coming up on the Web, and in later articles in Indiana Prairie Farmer. We will check for stand establishment in three types of seedbeds. One will be straight no-till with a split-row cornplanter into corn stalks that haven't been disturbed. Another will check out the established stand in a field where the same farmer planted into a stale seedbed. The corn stalks were worked at shallow depth with a vertical tillage tool last fall.
Finally, we'll took the hula-hoop and our camera to a field worked both last fall and this spring with the vertical tillage tool. It was also in corn last year. This field was planted with the same planter too. The same variety of Roundup Ready 2 soybeans were planted in all three fields.
Take advantage of what we find to learn how various types of tillage can impact soybean establishment. Meanwhile, you may want to take a hula-hoop to your own fields to see what's happening there.