How Soon is Too Soon for Soybean Planting?

April 30, 2010 10:34 AM

With corn planting nearing completion in many areas of the U.S., you might be itching to switch over to planting soybeans. This could be a fine idea, as long as the conditions are right.

"In the last few years, soil temperatures have been slow to warm up," says Chad Godsey, Oklahoma State University cropping systems specialist.

Wait Until the Conditions are Just Right

Godsey says the two most important factors when determining soybean planting date are soil temperature and moisture levels. In Oklahoma, Godsey says, farmers should wait for soil temperatures to be in the mid-60s.

As far as moisture, he says you don't want to plant seeds into cool, wet soils, which increases the threat of seed rot, seedling diseases and late germination. "You want the plant to get off to a healthy start." 

The Risks of Early Planting

In a recent article (Vince Davis, assistant professor of soybean production systems at the University of Illinois, wrote that earlier-than-normal soybean planting is always associated with greater risks.

To combat the increased risks of emergence issues and pests, Davis offers this advice:

  • Enhance the warming and drainage abilities of your soils by preparing your seedbed with tillage or even strip tillage to remove residue from the seed furrow.
  • Plant in darker soils first, since they warm faster than lighter soils.
  • Save the fields with past histories of seedling or fungal diseases for last.
  • Scout your early-planted soybean fields quickly and often to keep an eye out for potential problems.


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