Soybean School: Planting soybeans before canola

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Once soybeans are up and out of the ground, the crop can be quite resilient. What’s more, soybeans are proving hardier than first thought, and new research suggests that planting earlier — even before corn or canola — can yield good results.

In this episode of the Soybean School, Laura Schmidt, production specialist with the Manitoba Pulse & Soybean Growers, explains how soybeans can really surprise even in challenging spring conditions. From overcoming crusting, to cool soil, and even very dry conditions, soybeans can still achieve top yields if planted early, even ahead of corn or canola. (More below)

If growers do want to go ahead with early planting, at least two weeks after the average last frost for the area, the research shows that soybeans can offer top yield potential planted throughout the month of May.

“Occasionally, we’ll even see a bit of that yield bump from planting in the second week of May. However, when we start delaying seeding to that fourth week of May or later, that’s when we’re really starting to see reduced yield potential,” Schmidt says.

In the first week of May, there is an increased risk of frost — which could spell death for seedling if the frost damage occurs below the cotyledons or a the hook stage. Frost that early can decrease plant stand populations.

Seeding rate also plays a role in ending up with that ideal stand of between 140,000 to 160,000 live plants per acre.

“Seeding rates of 150,000 to 190,000 seeds per acre have maintained yield while minimizing those seed costs. But when we’re thinking about seeding soybeans earlier into some of these tougher conditions, we do want to establish a strong crop and we’re putting them into a more challenging scenario in some of those cases,” Schmidt says. “So in that instance, I think we want to stay on the upper side of that seeding rate range, we’re not seeing that benefit of going above 190,000 seeds per acre in those scenarios, but we do want to stay on the upper end of that range.”

The research also looked at what factors contribute to the success or failure of an early planted crop, including seed size, but temperature conditions had the biggest impact on seeding success.

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