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Soybean Establishment (06/07/18)

To maximize yield in North Dakota production fields, NDSU recommends an established soybean plant density of 150,000 plants per acre, regardless of row spacing.

Soybean Establishment

To maximize yield in North Dakota production fields, NDSU recommends an established soybean plant density of 150,000 plants per acre, regardless of row spacing. At a fixed seeding rate, row spacing influences the plant spacing within each row. The seeding rates that will provide the recommended plant population will vary by factors such as seed germination percent, management practices, and planting conditions. Based on previous research, NDSU recommends to increase the seeding rate in order to achieve the desired plant population (150,000). Various factors influence how many seeds will make it into established plants, for instance not all seeds germinate. The seed metering system of grain drills must be adjusted carefully to avoid seed damage, which may reduce the ability of the seed to germinate. In addition, planting soybean seeds deeper than two inches or in a soil with tendencies of crusting may result in poor or slow emergence.

This year we evaluated how quickly the plant establishment phase took place, for a range of seeding rates. Figure 1 indicates there is some variability in the rate of plant establishment based on seeding rate. This year with good soil moisture and high air and soil temperatures, it took approximately 8 days to progress from the first plants emerged to maximum plant establishment.

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The 2018 spring provided near ideal conditions just after planting. The percent of live seeds developing in an established plant varied from 86%, 100%, to 95%, for the 100,000, 160,000 (Photo 1), and 220,000 live seeds planted per acre (Figure 2). Across all seeding rates in the 2018 trial, with near ideal growing conditions, we observed 95% plant establishment. This is higher than during previous studies. Farmers and consultants are encouraged to scout soybean fields, take stand counts, and determine what the established plants are as a percent of the seeds planted. If the number of established plants is low compared with the seeding rate, it would be important to evaluate why that might be and use this knowledge to increase seeding rates and improve plant establishment in 2019.

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Hans Kandel

Extension Agronomist Broadleaf Crops

 

Peder Schmitz

Graduate Research Assistant


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