Soybean Seed Germination Concerns

Soybean farmers are facing a challenge with seed quality this year. The Nebraska Crop Improvement Association tested new crop soybean seed and discovered some is falling below the normal germination rate of 88%-98%. Some of this year’s samples fell as low as 43%.

Tamra Jackson-Ziems is an extension plant pathologist at the University of Nebraska. She says most of the seed comes from Iowa, Illinois and Indiana, states that had delayed harvest last fall because of extreme weather conditions.

"The beans were in just wet, terrible conditions for awhile, and there were a number of diseases that were much more common and severe. Things like Phomopsis seed decay developed and anthracnose," says Jackson-Ziems. "And so, that’s likely the reason that we’re seeing this impact."

There are a couple of things soybean farmers can do. One is to pay attention to the germination percentage rate listed on the seed bag.

"And, if it’s lower than you would expect, I would say lower than 80%, people might want to adjust their seeding rates to get the stand, the plant population that they need to have," she says. "The second thing is, seed treatment fungicides might be a good idea because some of the fungi that we know causing problems last fall can be seed-borne and might be an issue in some of this lower-quality seed that we’re seeing come out."

A fungicide treatment won’t improve germination of dying or dead seeds, but it can help protect seedlings under stress which could help ensure a better stand.