Soybean School: Is it too cold to plant soybeans?


Soybeans can handle cold, dry conditions at planting, but growers need to be careful when a cold, wet forecast is bearing down on their farm.

Planting is proceeding quickly across Ontario, but many growers are asking if they should park the planter as an early-May polar vortex approaches the province — daytime highs of 3 degrees C are expected and nighttime lows could dip to minus 3.

“My theory is you should not let a window pass if the ground is fit,” says Horst Bohner, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs soybean specialist. In this episode of RealAgriculture Soybean School, we catch up with Bohner as he’s inspecting early-planted soybeans (April 22) at the Ontario Soil & Crop Improvement Association research site in Bornholm, Ont.

Bohner notes that these soybeans are “coming along really nicely” despite being planted into cold soils on a day that saw the mercury dip to minus two that evening. This is more evidence, he says, to support his belief that growers can plant as long as soil conditions are fit.

“When we plant into cold soils, we don’t seem to get that shock, but if you get a cold rain, it can be a real problem.” That’s when imbibitional chilling injury, the rapid uptake of chilled water in the first 24 hours after planting, can lead to extensive injury. Check out more cold insights from Bohner on Field Crop News.

Based on current forecast information, Bohner will continue to plant test plots until Thursday, May 7, and then park the planter. That’s the prudent thing to do,” he says.

Why not just wait until next week to start planting — there’s plenty of time, right? Bohner says that’s a fair comment, but he feels many farmers share his belief that when it comes to the weather, you never know when the next planting window will be. It could be next week; it could be next month.

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