Taking a Chance at One Good Soybean Stand

Matt Moore

Matt Moore, Soybean Product Manager

Many important decisions go into growing a successful soybean crop each year. There are choices to make regarding fertility, crop protection products, equipment and countless other things. I would argue that one of the most important decisions is placing the right soybean variety on the right acre. This is something we at Latham Seeds strive to do with every bag of seed we sell.

After you’ve selected the right variety for your farm, the next decision to make is when to plant it. Today’s modern equipment allows for corn planting to be completed in less time than ever before, so there is often a temptation to keep that planter rolling right along into soybeans. In cases where weather and field conditions remain favorable during and immediately following planting, the potential for increased yield does exist. However, anyone who has been farming in Latham Country knows there is a risk for a sudden onset of unseasonably cold temperatures and/or a prolonged rain event.

One significant risk of early planted soybeans comes from imbibitional chilling injury. A soybean seed must imbibe, or take in, 50% of its weight in water to germinate. When the water that is imbibed is 45 degrees or colder, injury to the seed can occur. This typically happens within 24 hours of the soybean being in the ground. Poor germination and emergence are symptoms of this type of injury, and the effects will keep the soybean plant from reaching its full yield potential.

You can avoid imbibitional chilling injury by waiting to plant soybeans until soil temps are consistently at least 50 degrees with a forecast for a continued warming trend. A soybean seed sitting in cool, wet conditions also is more prone to damage from seedling diseases caused by soil-borne pathogens like phytophthora, pythium and fusarium.  While Latham’s proprietary SoyShield® seed treatments protect against these diseases, the best management practice is always to wait until field conditions allow for the plant to get off to a healthy start.

The less stress on a soybean seed will lead to a greater chance of that soybean plant reaching its full yield potential this year. That means waiting until planting conditions are favorable for a successful stand.  After all, we only get one chance at it!