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Don't rush soybean plantings in cool, wet soils

Agriculture.com Staff 05/01/2008 @ 10:13am

Spring rains and cool temperatures are likely to delay soybean planting past the optimal planting dates where soybeans produce the highest yield. Even so, the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) urges soybean growers not to rush their planting this spring.

"It's easy to make mistakes when we're feeling the pressure of watching the days pass by without getting seed in the ground," says ISA President Curt Sindergard, who grows soybeans and corn near Rolfe, Iowa. "It's best to wait until conditions are right if you can."

ISA and Iowa State University Extension Agronomist Palle Pedersen urges growers to wait until seedbed conditions are right, handle seed carefully and plan ahead for a forecasted drought. Here are three tips for making the best of a difficult situation.

  1. Wait for the right conditions.
    "The optimal date for planting soybeans in the southern two-thirds of Iowa was April 25. Farmers who were not able to plant during this timeframe understandably get impatient, says Pedersen. "(However,) planting into a seedbed that is too wet can cause problems later in the season. Sidewall compaction is only the beginning of growers' problems if they plant in a seedbed that is too wet."

    In addition, a disease like sudden death syndrome (SDS) seems to be worse when soybeans are planted into a wet seedbed.

    "We only need to go back to 2007 where we also had a wet spring to see what damage SDS did in many fields later in the 2007 season," Pedersen says.

  2. Protect fragile seed.
    Seed quality is an issue this year throughout the United States. "The supplies of many popular soybean varieties are extremely tight this year, and the opportunity to replant with high yielding varieties may be limited," Pedersen says. "We want to wait until the conditions are right to plant to give the seed every advantage we can.

    Moreover, we don't want to have to replant. If we get into a replanting situation, seed quality may be worse."

    In addition, seed may be fragile this year and should be handled carefully. Pedersen suggests that growers may want to consider the use of a fungicide seed treatment to ensure a good stand.

  3. Plan ahead for predicted drought.
    If we experience a drought this summer, as many climatologists are predicting, the restricted root development from sidewall compaction may haunt us later in the season, according to Pedersen.

    "We want an optimum seedbed to obtain early vegetative growth and canopy closure," adds David Wright, ISA director of contract research. "Early weed control is also important so weeds don't rob moisture from the soybean plants."

Spring rains and cool temperatures are likely to delay soybean planting past the optimal planting dates where soybeans produce the highest yield. Even so, the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) urges soybean growers not to rush their planting this spring.

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