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SpecialistSoil conditions at planting important for high soybean yield

Agriculture.com Staff 05/07/2009 @ 7:01am

Remembering last year, many Iowa soybean farmers are wondering whether this spring’s rain has already delayed planting enough to hurt yield potential, but it's not yet time to worry, according to Palle Pedersen, Iowa State University (ISU) Extension soybean agronomist.

"In Iowa, we're not doing too badly," Pedersen says in a report from the Iowa Soybean Association. "The rain has been sporadic and farmers have been able to do some work. Currently, we have two-thirds of the corn planted and a few soybeans."

Pedersen emphasizes that it's important for soil conditions to be right for planting. While he acknowledges that in a normal year, he stresses in general planting corn by May 10 and soybean by May 15 to reach full yield potential, Pedersen emphasizes that it doesn't pay to plant when the soil conditions are not suitable.

"If you plant in a wet seedbed, it will often lead to sidewall compaction. That keeps a good root system from developing and that will affect nutrient and water uptake. A fully developed root system is critical, particularly if we get into a hot and dry summer," Pedersen says.

He uses last year as an example. "Last year many farmers were forced to plant soybeans into non-optimal seedbed conditions, and we saw a lot of sidewall compaction because of that. But fortunately, because there was enough rain throughout the summer and it was cool enough, we still got a crop," Pedersen says.

Right now, there is still time before the situation becomes urgent, he adds.

"Seedbed conditions are critical. We still have more than a week to plant our soybean before we start losing significant yield, and Iowa farmers have the capacity to put in a million acres in a day. We saw this in the third week of April when the weather was good and a lot of corn was planted in a short time. It's too early to worry and compromise on wet seedbed conditions," Pedersen says.

"It's early enough that I don't think we in Iowa should worry yet. In other states, including Illinois and Indiana, where they barely have any corn planted, it’s a whole other story."

Remembering last year, many Iowa soybean farmers are wondering whether this spring’s rain has already delayed planting enough to hurt yield potential, but it's not yet time to worry, according to Palle Pedersen, Iowa State University (ISU) Extension soybean agronomist.

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