Tag Archives: planting date

Planting Tips for Profitable Double-Crop Soybean

   Before I get into tips for soybean, I must emphasize one must focus on the entire double-crop wheat-soybean system.  Both crops must contribute to profit; one crop cannot carry the other.  You will may save some input costs such as lime, fertilizer, and rent (making those seasonal cost spread over two crops) with the double-crop system, but certain costs such as soybean seeding rate will increase.  In the end, these inputs roughly equal out with the exception of land rent that can vary greatly over Virginia.

   With that said, the most important thing to insure a profitable double-crop system is yield, yield of both crops.  Without a minimum of 80+ bushel/acre wheat and 33-35+ bushel soybean, the system will not likely be as profitable as the full-season soybean system, especially with today’s low prices. 

Assuming that you will intensely manage both crops during the growing season (note that intensely managing does necessarily not equate to greater input costs, but instead greater attention), the most important thing that anyone can do right now for greater yields is to harvest the wheat crop as soon as possible, and then immediately plant the soybean.  Our 3-year, 5-state (PA, MD, DE, VA, NC) project conducted just a few years ago clearly confirmed that this is one of, if not the most important decision that a double-crop farmer can make.  In that project, we generally showed a rapid decrease in both wheat and soybean yield with delayed harvest and planting after mid-June.  Wheat yield declined anywhere from 0.5% to 2.5% per day, depending on location and year, versus wheat that was harvested at 18-20% moisture.  This was largely due to rapidly declining test weights afterwards.  And we also noted that quality decreased in many test locations. Note that if wheat is harvested this wet, then it will need to be dried almost immediately.  I don’t recommend this unless you have a continuous-flow drier or have a buyer willing to take the high-moisture wheat without severe price dockage. 

Although we found a benefit to the wheat crop, probably the bigger benefit however to harvesting wheat at high moisture is earlier planting of the soybean.  On average the soybean yield began to decrease about ½ bushel/acre per day by mid-June, but this increased to 1-2 bushels per day once we got into late-June (more northerly Mid-Atlantic states) and early-July (more southerly Mid-Atlantic states).   This resulted in a major income difference. 

Just to re-emphasize this most important point, harvesting the wheat and planting the soybean ASAP is the most important thing a farmer can do to make this system as or more profitable than a full-season soybean system.  The current weather is not helping with this (we could have harvested much of our wheat this week), but hopefully next week will bring drier weather.

Here are some other tips that are very important when planting double-crop soybean.

Variety Selection. Select the latest maturing varieties that will mature before the frost.  This will assist with growing as much leaf area and having as many reproductive nodes as possible.  Plant the earlier maturing varieties in this maturity range on your best soils and the later relative maturities on the poorer-yielding land.

Always Plant in Narrow Rows.  I prefer 15 to 20 inch rows seeded with a planter that singulates the seed.  Seed singulation insures uniform seed placement within the row and no big gaps between plants.  The other option is to plant with a drill, which achieves the narrow rows but results in what many refer to today as a “controlled spill”.  This results in many gaps, 2 or 3 seed planted in the same place, and generally lower yields (we proved this in some on-farm double-crop studies in the early 2000s).  Still, a drill is better than 30-inch (or wider) rows at such a late planting date.

Seeding Rate. Beginning next week in Virginia, plant 140,000 to 160,000 seed/acre and increase that rate by 20,000 seed/acre with each successive week.  This will of course put the seeding rate up to 200,000 to 220,00 plants by the first full week of July, sharply decreasing your profit with greater seed costs and lower yields.  Again, this is to insure maximum leaf area and node development.  Note that as one moves north and west, greater seeding rates may be needed due to the shorter growing season (e.g., northwest Virginia may require a greater seeding rate than southeast Virginia, or North Carolina). If using a drill, I suggest increasing these rates by 10%.

Insure Good Soil-to-Seed Contact. First, adequately spread the wheat residue.  No planter will uniformly plant through inches of matted residue. Then make sure the planter is properly set to 1) cut the residue, 2) penetrate the soil to the proper seeding depth, and 3) ensure good soil-to-seed contact.  These steps must take place in order. And they affect each other; a mistake in accomplishing one of the steps can result in mistakes in the other two.  I suggest waiting until late morning to begin planting to insure that the small grain residue to dry – unless the residue is dry, cutting through it will be a problem, resulting in hair-pinning of the residue and prohibiting proper soil-to-seed contact. 

Plant into soil moisture.  If there is plenty of moisture, you can plant as shallow as ¾ inch and get good and rapid emergence.  If a little dry on top, you can plant as deep as 1.5 inches.  With warm soil temperatures, soybean will generally emerge well from this depth and may even emerge from even deeper depths (but I don’t recommend).  Unless you farm in wet, poorly drained soils or are growing continuous soybean, I don’t usually recommend a fungicide seed treatment during June and July due to warm soils.  Double-crop soybean usually emerge quickly if planted into soil moisture and will “out-grow” any seedling disease.

Insure Nitrogen Fixation. If soybean have not been grown in a field for the past 3 years, then be sure to apply inoculate to the seed with the proper bacteria.  This will insure adequate nitrogen fixation by the soybean plant. There is no need to apply nitrogen; definitely don’t apply more than 25-30 pounds/acre or you will inhibit this vital biological process. As a side note, we did find a fairly consistent 1 bushel yield increase with starter N at 25 lbs/acre due to slightly better early-season growth; but this did not pay for the cost of the N – so I don’t recommend.

Fertility (P, K, S, etc.).  Keep in mind that the straw contains quite a bit of nutrients.  If the straw is harvested, make sure that you are replacing those nutrients that are leaving the field.  For more information, see our VCE publication,  The Nutrient Value of Straw.  And make sure that you are being paid more for the straw than these nutrients and organic matter is worth!

Seeding Rates for Late-Planted Soybean

The cool and wetter weather earlier in the month has delayed some soybean planting into June. In addition, some cotton growers have switched to soybean due to the same reason. The question that came to me often this week was “Should I increase my seeding rate?”

In general, our research has not found a dramatic yield response to more seed per acre until mid-June. This largely reflects the lack of decrease in yield due to late planting dates until about the same time. If planted by the first week of June, the soybean usually has time to build a canopy great enough to capture most of the light by flowering, and does not need the extra plants.

However, I usually recommend that you begin increasing seeding rates by about 20,000 seed per week beginning the first of June.

Therefore, I would suggest the following:

This week (June 1-6): 120,000 – 140,000 seed/acre

June 7-13: 140,000-160,000 seed/acre

June 14-20: 160,000-180,000 seed/acre

June 21-27: 180,000-220,000 seed/acre

On your better soils or with later maturing varieties, use the lower seeding rate. On your less-productive soils or with earlier varieties, use the higher rate. This will insure that you you have enough leaf area to maximize the yield for those planting date.

Full-Season Soybean Planting Dates, Maturity Groups, Seeding Rates, and Seed Depth

Best Planting Dates & Maturity Groups (MG). If you’ve seen some of my presentations in the past, the best maturity groups will largely depend on location, but also on field productivity. Still, we cannot talk about maturity groups without a discussion on planting date, as they influence each other. Here are some general full-season guidelines:

Planting Date x Relative Maturity Experiment in Caroline County, VA, 2019

Planting Date. On average, there is little advantage, although no disadvantage, to planting in April if using adapted varieties. My data indicate that late-MG 4s and early 5’s are generally the best choice at both planting dates. But note my comments below regarding field productivity.

Location and Maturity Group. On average and most consistently, late-MG 4 and early- to mid-MG 5 varieties have yielded more than other relative maturities when planted in May in most of Virginia. Exceptions are the Northern Piedmont and Eastern Shore. In the Northern Piedmont, late-3s through late-4s yield more than 5s. On the Eastern Shore, early- and mid-4s appear to have the advantage.

Note that these comment are based on relative maturity and planting date studies over the last 3 years and from 10 years of variety test data. This does not mean that you will see similar results every year on every field. There are always exceptions, including the following.

Early planting dates and maturity groups work best on the most productive field. By planting early with an earlier-than-adapted relative maturity will place the most critical time of soybean growth and development, the pod and seed stages, earlier in the year. We generally experience more water and heat stress earlier in the summer; therefore, a more productive field/better soil type will better tolerate the stress (and better take advantage of the longer days).

Later planting dates and later maturity groups work best on less productive soils. By planting later (up to the first week of June) and with later maturity groups (mid- to late-5s), we can avoid the most stressful time of the year, placing the critical pod and seed development into a less stressful time of the year.

Full-Season Seeding Rates: In general, 100,000 to 140,000 seed/acre (assuming at least 75% emergence) is enough to maximize soybean yield when planted in April and May. I’ve even maximized yield with less seed when early-season growth is good. All we are trying to do is grow enough leaves to get 90 to 95% light interception by early pod fill (R3).

A more detailed analysis of my data however revealed that under relatively low-yielding conditions (less than 35 bushels/acre), we need the greater seeding rates. And the lower rates sufficed under higher yielding conditions. Others have found the same thing in the Midwest and South America. What does this mean as far as adjusting your seeding rates?

First, on historically poor-yielding land, use 130,000 to 140,000 seed/acre. On historically better-yielding land, you can reduce that rate down to 100,000 to 110,000.

Note that the later you plant, as you approach June, greater seeding rates will more likely insure maximum yields.

Also note that plant emergence may be less when planted on cold, wet soils; therefore, increase the seeding rate by 10% or so.

Seed Depth. My philosophy on seed depth is plant into moisture at a depth that will give you the best and fastest emergence. Note that the longer the soybean is in the ground, the more likely it will be affected by a seedling disease. I usually recommend 1 inch deep to the bottom of the seed. Under cool and moist soils, plant as shallow as 1/2 to 3/4 inch deep. This will hasten emergence.

Once the soil warms up, you can plant deeper since germination and emergence will take place faster. But, try not to plant over 1.5 inches deep, especially in April or May. Only do so if the soil is very warm and there is little moisture in the top 1 to 1.5 inches.

To Plant or Not To Plant Into Dry Soils

Rachel Vann, Extension Soybean Specialist – N.C. State University & David Holshouser, Extension Agronomist, Virginia Tech

Now that the weather has turned hot and dry, and with limited rainfall in the forecast over the next ten days, we are starting to get questions about continuing to plant soybeans or halting planting until we catch a rain. There is no consensus on what to do in this situation, but we aim to discuss the pros and cons of the different approaches in this blog post.

Soybean seed must take in 50% of its weight in water to initiate the germination process. Germination is not affected if the seed has imbibed water for 6 hours (seed is swollen, but seed coat in not broken), then it dehydrates to 10% moisture. If the seed has imbibed water for 12-24 hours (seed coat is broken but no radical has emerged) then dehydrates to 10%, germination may be reduced 35-40%. If the radical has emerged and the seed dehydrates to 10% moisture, few if any seedlings will survive (Holshouser, 2012). What we want to avoid with any approach discussed below is exposing the seed to enough moisture to start germination but not enough for the seed to get out of the ground.

The general optimum planting date range for planting soybeans across North Carolina was identified by Dr. Dunphy as May 1 to June 10. This optimum planting range varies from year-to-year based on rainfall, soil water holding capacity and soybean maturity, but the goal is to get the soybean plants to lap the middles before reproductive growth begins. We still have 10 more days before we get to the end of that optimum range this year and parts of the state have a chance for rain before June 10. Continuing to wait to plant is more of a concern for our growers who still have seed from early maturing varieties to plant (<MG5), as these varieties will have less time for vegetative growth prior to the beginning of reproductive development. The three major options growers in the region are facing are discussed below.

  1. Plant shallowly in the dry and hope for enough rain to get the seed out of the ground. If you decide to take this approach, you want to ensure you achieve uniform seed depth and that you are not allowing the seed access to moisture below the seed that could lead to variable emergence. This approach would be less risky in clean-tilled situation where you are more confident that you have dried the soil out at shallow depths. Dr. Dunphy said he has seen soybeans planted shallowly into dry conditions before that have sat in the ground >5 weeks and still had excellent emergence when rainfall occurred. The biggest risk with this approach is that you catch a small rain that allows the soybean seed to imbibe water but does not provide enough moisture to get the soybeans out of the ground. We would also suggest you exercise caution using this approach in a no-till situation where you would be more likely to see problems with lacking uniformity of moisture across the field leading to variable seed access to moisture and ultimately emergence variability. In many cases, part of the field will have adequate moisture to get the soybeans out of the ground, other parts will be completely dry as in tilled conditions, and much of the field will be in between. Those in-between areas are likely to have enough moisture to swell the seed and/or initiate germination but not have enough moisture to allow the seedling to emerge.    We have had several inquires on the impact of planting into dry conditions on soybean seed treatments. What we can say is that fungicidal seed treatments are less likely needed in this situation where we already have high soil temperatures and lacking soil moisture than they are in earlier planting situations where the soils are cool and wet.
  2. Plant deep to the moisture. Under most conditions, soybeans should be planted 0.75 to 1.5 inches deep. Soil temperatures are high enough right now to germinate and emerge quickly, even at deeper depths than recommended. But soybeans should not be planted deeper than 2 inches. We’ve talked to several growers and County Agents across the region who are not finding soil moisture until 3 to 4 inches deep; we definitely do not recommend planting this deep.  Growers should exercise caution using this approach if your soils are prone to crusting, because a heavy rainfall could seal the soil before the soybeans emerge. In addition, if the planter pushes the soil down a little in tilled conditions, creating a ridge of fluffy soil on each side, a heavy rain will cause this fluffy soil to move into that furrow and possibly add another ½ to 1 inches of soil to your depth.  If you are going to go this route, check the emergence score on the variety.
  3. Keep the seed in the bag until the next time we catch rain. This is the safest approach at this point. Based on historical data, we have another 10 days or so before we start seeing yield declines from delayed planting. Parts of the state have a chance of rain in the next 10 days. Data from recent research throughout the Mid-Atlantic shows that each day delay in planting past mid-June can result in a ½ bu/A or more yield loss and in general these yield declines begin in the second or third week of June; we still have some time before we get to that point.

Whatever decision a grower makes, uniform seed placement in critical to achieve uniform emergence and ensure each seed has as equal of access to water as possible. We have discussed the importance of uniform emergence in soybeans here: https://soybeans.ces.ncsu.edu/2019/04/how-important-is-uniform-emergence-in-soybeans/

In conclusion, there are advantages and disadvantages to each planting option discussed, but we still have time to plant soybeans in our region before we see drastic yield declines. All options discussed will likely result in delayed emergence due to environmental conditions.

Would Soybean Yields Rise If We Started Planting in April?

April planting is thought to have an advantage over May planting because we can shift the development of soybean to an earlier time of the year  where there is more sunlight.   More total sunlight per day should result in greater yields.  But, does this hold up in Virginia?  Likewise, an earlier variety will also shift maturity, and the critical stages of development, to a time of the year when the days are longer.  So in theory, planting early-maturing varieties early should result in the greatest yields.

My concern is that when you shift your development to earlier times of the year, you are also placing the most critical pod and seed development stages in a hotter and drier time of the year.  While you could possibly alleviate the dry part with irrigation, I know of no way to keep the temperature from rising.

To test these hypotheses, we planted 10 to 12 varieties ranging in maturity from late-3’s to early-6’s in April, May, and June at three Virginia locations in 2017 and 2018.  I’m not going to show the data because we found relative maturity responded differently depending on location, and it would just take up too much room to show all the graphs.  However, we have seen no benefit to planting soybean in April versus May, although April plantings did not usually yield less than May plantings.  Maturity group response depended more on location and when the rain fell.

So, I suggest that you base your planting date and or relative maturity decisions on your need to spread out planting or harvesting.  April planting date is OK, but not necessary for greater yields.  Keep in mind that soils are usually cooler in April, so it will normally take soybean longer to emerge than when planted in May.  Fungicides will be needed for April and early-May plantings.

Planting a slightly earlier maturing soybean is usually OK also.  For more information on maturity selection, see my previous blog, “Improving Your Soybean Variety Selection Decisions – What maturity is best?

If you do plant in April and/or want to use early-maturing varieties, then do this on your best soils.  If you move the critical stages of development to a hotter and drier time of the year, you’ll need the greater water-holding capacity of those soils.

Steps to Estimate the Profitability of Replanting Soybean

Determining whether or not to replant is hard.  To ease the pain, I’ve summarized some relatively simple steps to help in your decision.  One should incorporate 2- to 3-foot gaps into your decision to improve the estimation of yield loss.

  1. Determine the cause of the poor stand.  Was the poor stand the result of poor seed quality, cold wet soils, hot dry soils, planting too deep or shallow, soil crusting, herbicide injury, insect or slug feeding, poor soil to seed contact, or disease infection?  Determine if the cause can be corrected to avoid a similar situation.  If slug or insect feeding or disease is the cause, then you might expect poor stands again.
  2. Estimate the stand and percent stand loss due to gaps.  Pace off the sections of row 20 paces long in at least 6 areas of the field.  Determine (in number of paces) the total length of row lost to 2- to 3-foot gaps.  For drilled soybean, this can be interpreted at 2- to 3-foot diameter gaps.  Then determine the percent of row lost to gaps.  In addition, count and determine average number of plants per foot in sections of row not reduced by gaps.  The simplest method is to count the number of healthy plants (capable of recovery) in a length of row equaling 1/1000 of an acre.  For instance:
  • 36-inch rows = 14.5 feet
  • 30-inch rows = 17.5 feet
  • 20-inch rows = 26 feet
  • 15-inch rows = 35 feet
  • 7.5-inch rows = 70 feet

Then, just multiply your counts by 1,000 to get plants per acre.

Or, use the Tables 1 or 2 to determine remaining plant population.  The “hula hoop” method (Table 2) is valuable with drilled soybean or when rows cannot be distinguished.  This involves placing a circular measuring device such as a hula-hoop on the ground and counting the plants contained within.

Table 1. Plant populations of different row spacing with different plant counts per foot.
Plants/ foot Row Spacing
36 30 24 20 15 7.5
Plant Population (1,000’s/acre)
1 15 17 22 26 35 70
2 29 35 44 52 70 140
3 44 52 65 78 105 210
4 58 70 87 105 139 278
5 73 87 109 131 174
6 87 105 131 157 209
7 102 122 152 183 244
Table 2. Hula-hoop method for determining drilled soybean populations.
No. ofPlants Inside Diameter of Hula Hoop
30” 32” 34” 36” 38”
Plant Population (1,000’s/acre)a
6 53 47 41 37 33
10 89 78 69 62 55
14 124 109 97 86 77
18 160 140 124 111 100
22 196 172 152 136 122
26 231 203 179 160 144
aPlants/acre = no. plants ¸ (3.14 x r2 ¸ 43,560 ft2) where r = radius of hula hoop in feet.
  1. Estimate the yield of the poor stand.  Use Tables 3 and 4 to determine percent of yield potential for full-season and double-crop plantings, respectively.  Note that Table 3 is data from Illinois from the 1980’s. In my opinion, the remaining plant population numbers are too high.  Although I have not conducted full-season plant population studies that have included gaps, I suggest that you change those numbers to  60, 90, and 120 (based on Virginia data).  Multiply this percentage by the expected yield. This is the yield to expect from the deficient stand.
    Table 3. Yield response (% of maximum) of full-season soybeans to deficit standsa.
    % Stand lost to gapsb Remaining Plant Pop (1,000’s/A)
    70 105 140
    0 95 97 100
    10 93 96 98
    20 91 93 96
    30 88 90 93
    40 83 86 89
    50 78 81 84
    60 73 75 78
    aSource: Pepper and Wilmot.  Managing Deficit Stands. 1991. Illinois Cooperative Extension Cir. 1317.bGaps of 12 inches or more; 30-inch rows

    Note that these data are from Virginia.

    Table 13.4.  Yield response (% of maximum) of double-crop soybeans to deficit standsa.
    % Standlost to gapsb Remaining Plant Pop (1,000’s/A)
    100 140 180 220
    0 80 88 95 100
    20 71 79 86 91
    40 61 69 76 81
    60 48 57 64 69
    aSource: 2001-2004 experiments, Suffolk, VA.bGaps of 3 feet; 15-inch rows; MG 4 variety
  2. Estimate the yield from replanting.  After mid-June, decrease the expected yields an additional half of a bushel per acre per day delay in planting.  This is the yield to expect from delayed planting.
  3. Determine the gain or loss from replanting.  Subtract the expected yield of the poor stand (step 3) from the yield expected from delayed planting.  This is the gain or loss in bu/A from replanting.  Multiply this number by the expected price ($/bu), using future prices, to obtain gain or loss in $/A.
  4. Estimate the cost of replanting.  Include per acre cost of tillage, herbicide, fuel, seed, and labor.
  5. Determine profitability of replanting.  Subtract your cost of replanting from your estimated gain from replanting.

 

 

Be Careful Planting Into Wet Fields – We Still Have Time to Maximize Soybean Yield

Recent heavy rains have led to temporary flooding of numerous soybean fields throughout Virginia and put us behind with soybean planting .  Only 26% of the crop was planted as of last week.  And it looks as if we will have another bout of rain this weekend.

Although you will be tempted to get back into these fields as soon as possible, I caution you to hold off until the entire field dries to a point where you will not damage the soil, especially around the seed.  Planting into wet soils can compact the soil around the seed, making rapid seedling growth difficult.  For continuous no-till fields, you can also cause some long-term compaction that will not be easily removed without tillage.  I usually advise to wait another half or full day before you think you can get back into the field.  In the long run, it will likely pay off.

When should we get into a big hurry to plant?  Planting date research indicates that we usually don’t see a rapid decline in yield until mid-June.  Below is some Virginia research to verify this.

Although the below multi-state data is double-crop soybean, it also illustrates the point well.So, you are likely to lower your yield much more by planting too wet than delaying the planting (or re-planting) until the last week of May or the first week of June.  Still, only you know your operation.  If you still have hundreds, or maybe even thousand acres to go, you may not want to wait too late.

Soybean Planting Dates, Seeding Rates, Re-planting, Weeds, etc.

June is usually the time of the year when full season soybean is kicking into high gear and we begin planting double-crop soybean.  And like always, various issues are beginning to arise, whether its the weather or finding out mistakes made a few weeks earlier.

Unbelievably, double-crop soybean is wrapping up in many areas due to small grain maturing earlier than normal.  Out of necessity, we were forced to harvest wheat and plant soybean at the same time we were trying to make timely postemergence herbicide applications and generally trying to pay attention to the rapidly growing soybean that we planted in April and May.  But, issues such as these are not unusual.

This week, I thought I’d mention a few things that we are facing and continue to remind you of the need to plant as soon as possible and adjust seeding rates accordingly.

Planting Date.  We are now losing about 1/2 bushel per acre per day with each delay in soybean planting.  Plant as soon as possible, but don’t cause more serious problems by planting into too wet or dry soils.

Seeding Rate.  My data indicates that seeding rates now need to be at least 180,000 seed per acre, even on the best of soils.  I would bump those up about 20,000 seed for each week’s delay in planting.  See Soybean Seeding Rates for June and Later for more information.

Replanting.  Generally, replanting does not pay this time of the year (due to the planting date penalty) unless the stand is horrible.  For more information, see Soybean Replant Decisions or contact me.

Seed Treatments.  I’ve seen few benefits of fungicide or insecticide seed treatments this time of year.  Plants usually emerge and grow quickly.  The exception is wet soils – soybean will emerge very slow when soils are saturated.  With that in mind, you may consider a fungicide on the seed if you have poorly-drained soils, your soils are already wet, and rain is predicted.

Seeding Depth.  Those of you know that I usually don’t like to plant soybean greater than 1 inch.  But, I’ve found that planting soybean at 1.5 inch (and occasionally 2 inches) works just fine when soils are warm.  Sometimes, it’s better to plant deeper to hit moisture than to plant into dry soils.

Weeds.  First, Drs. Charlie Cahoon and Mike Flessner is who you need to consult regarding weeds, but here are a few of my observations.  We may have let a few weeds get too big for adequate control – this is especially a problem with glyphosate-resistant weeds.  Marestail continues to be a problem.  When this weed is glyphosate resistant and you’re not growing Liberty-Link soybean, about the only somewhat effective herbicide that we have left in our arsenal for Roundup Ready soybean is FirstRate, although a few other herbicides may burn the weed – just don’t expect very much from anything.  I’ll let you mull over your other options if you have planted Xtend soybean.  Finally, don’t depend on glyphosate alone – even if you weeds are not yet resistant, its a good practice to diversify to insure that they do not become so.

Greater Yields are Possible for Double-Crop Soybean in 2017!

It appears that wheat harvest will be 1 to 2 weeks ahead of schedule this year.  We actually harvested some high-moisture wheat and planted soybean plots behind it today (May 31) in northeast N.C.  This is good news for soybean.  Earlier planting means greater yields!  This is clearly shown by the recent data obtained from our multi-state, multi-year double-crop project.

With earlier planting, have my recommendations for double-crop soybean changed?  In general no.  But below are a few things to consider.

Seeding Rate:  In general, you can probably back off on your seeding rates from what you were planning if you get your double-crop soybean in by mid-June.  I’d suggest that you start out with 120-160,000 seed/acre (depending on when you start planting) and gradually ramp that up by 20-30,000 for each week delay in planting.  For more information, see my recent blog, Soybean Seeding Rates for June and Later.

Relative Maturity:  Actually, my standard recommendation still stands, more or less.  Plant as late of a relative maturity (RM) as possible that will mature before the frost.  However, there are now some caveats.   By planting a week earlier, you’ll gain about 3 days in maturity.  Although a slightly later RM may work, I wouldn’t count on it – frost date will affect this more than planting date.  So, don’t plant a later RM.

But, can you plant an earlier RM, say go from an early-5 to a late-4?  Possibly.  Why do I say this?  Two things.  First, by planting a week or two earlier you have greater yield potential (see the above graph), which is due to the ability to grow more leaves.  So your yields are not necessarily so dependent on leaf area as they are with a late-June to early-July planting.  A slightly earlier RM planting in early- to mid-June will only have slightly less leaf area than a later RM.  And, we have generally found that under greater yield potentials, early RM will yield more than later ones.  Still, these are not great reasons to change your RM.  Generally, stick with what you planned.

Soybean Seeding rates for June and Later

Due to the rainy weather over the past two weeks, we are still planting full-season soybean in some areas.  In addition, it appears that wheat harvest is not far off (some wheat at the Tidewater AREC was at 23% moisture today!).  So, should we be increasing our seeding rates?

In general, yes.  But, big increases probably will not be needed until late-June.  Below are some seeding rate data that we collected from soybean planted in early-June after barley.  First, we don’t have a lot of data of soybean grown after barley, so I don’t have as much confidence in the exact seeding rate needed.  Note that there is a wide range in the optimal seeding rates, illustrated by the area between the dotted lines in the graph.  Although, these data may not directly apply to full-season soybean (no small grain), it should be close.

I think that we should now be using 120,000 to 160,000 seed/acre.  The range will depend on the planting date.  In general, I’d suggest bumping up your seeding by 20-30,000 seed/acre per week through June.

If you remember the seeding rate data that I shared in this blog last month for May-planted soybean (see Soybean Seeding Rates – How Low Can We Go?), I stated that maximum yields could be obtained with only 95,000 to 110,000 seed/acre when the yield potential is greater than 40 bushels/acre.  That’s pretty low, but was adequate for maximum yield under good growth conditions.  For less than 40 bushel potential, seeding rates needed to be a little higher.   In the above graph, it appears that more seed is needed to obtain 55 to 70 bushels/acre after barley, I cannot fully explain why; therefore, I would assume that this response is primarily due to the location that we obtained the data (again, we don’t have a lot of data).

Once we get into mid- to late-June, I’d rather see a seeding rate of 180,000 to 220,000 seed/acre, depending on planting date.  This is based on the data to the right.    You’ll notice that, like full-season soybean, the optimal seeding rate falls with greater yields.  This is most likely due to greater leaf area with those high-yielding locations.  As I’ve stated often, the seeding rate response can usually be traced back to whether or not the crop developed enough leaf area to capture 90-95% of the light by early pod development.  Unfortunately, I don’t have any double-crop data planted following wheat with yields greater than 55 bushels/acre.  I hope to solve that problem this year with new experiments.