To Inoculate, or Not to Inoculate?

With the extremely stressful weather conditions we experienced last year, growers are starting to inquire about using soybean inoculants going into the 2013 planting season. While there is no definitive answer to this question, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  1. Soybean inoculant is comprised of living bacteria (Bradyrhizobia japonicum), which is necessary for the establishment of the nitrogen nodules on the roots of young soybean plants. Soybeans can require more than 300 pounds of nitrogen per acre and most of it is needed during the initial flowering through seed-set stages. Living organisms do need adequate moisture to thrive.
  2. Inoculate the seed if soybeans haven’t been grown in your field for four or five years. If the field is sandy or in the event of severe weather problems (e.g., flood or drought), you might consider inoculating if the field has not been in soybeans for as little as three years.
  3. Nitrogen is essential to photosynthesis. Nitrogen is usually supplied to soybean plants by a process called nitrogen fixation, which is associated with Rhizobia bacteria in the soil. It’s important to note, however, these bacteria are not always present – especially if soybeans haven’t been grown in a field for a few years. In this case, consider adding an inoculant to your soybean seed.
  4. Scouting your fields and digging up plants to assure proper nodulation is crucial for achieving top-end yields. If you decide to use inoculants in your own fields, be sure to study whether the inoculants benefitted your production levels.
  5. Get to know your local Latham sales representative, who can introduce you to our Seed-2-Soil program. This program helps determine the best varieties to plant in your fields, giving you the best possible chance to achieve high yield.