9 Factors to Consider When Making Early Soybean Planting Decisions | AgriGold

9 Factors to Consider When Making Early Soybean Planting Decisions

9 Factors to Consider When Making Early Soybean Planting Decisions

It may be tempting to plant earlier this year – and for good reason. There are plenty of benefits to getting soybeans in the ground early. But one stands taller on the pedestal: higher yield potential

Planting soybeans early ensures full-season canopy photosynthesis, which leads to the complete absorption of solar radiation during the critical stages of pod set and seed fill. This, in return, maximizes yield potential and ultimately results in a more successful harvest.

Here’s what to consider before getting out in the fields early this spring:

1. Variety selection:

Based on soil types, disease and pest tolerance, yield goals, and nutrient needs, look through and choose from the many soybean varieties AgriGold offers. For the best performance in a specific geographical area, check out our Soybean Yield Results data and work with an AgriGold agronomist to choose the best seed for farm-specific needs. 

2. Maturity groups:

The best agronomic package and yield potential for each geographic region should drive variety selection. However, when planting early, be sure to choose varieties that also offer long maturity dates. To maximize yield, avoid shorter-maturity varieties when planting early – as this may cause the crop to enter the reproductive stages during the most stressful period of the growing season. 

3. Planting Date:

Soil temperature and weather can make or break successful soybean germination. Typically, planting soybeans early in April (instead of May or June) results in higher yield potential. However, it is crucial to monitor weather forecasts and soil temperatures before planting to ensure optimal conditions for germination. 

4. Soil Temperature:

Soil temperatures for planting should be 50°F. In no-till or high-residue soils, it is possible to opt for planting at slightly cooler soil temperatures, as residue will allow for seed trench warmth. Check soil temperatures at a depth of two to four inches for three consecutive days to get the most accurate reading. 

5. Tillage practices:

Tilled fields in the spring are typically safer for early planting, as they warm up more quickly and provide a consistent seedbed. No-till and high-residue fields also provide benefits because they warm up and dry out faster than conventionally tilled soils. 

6. Seed protection:

When planting soybeans early, choosing the proper seed treatment is critical, as unpredictable environmental factors can leave seedlings more susceptible to disease and pests. In the eastern part of the country, Phytophthora can significantly affect stand establishment, making close monitoring vital during early planting. Additionally, prioritizing Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS) tolerance is crucial when selecting seed for early planting. Opt for a variety with high SDS ratings and apply a comprehensive seed treatment to safeguard against diseases in early planting situations. Selecting the appropriate seed treatment and variety enhances germination success and protects your crop from potential hazards. 

7. Planting populations and row spacing:

For early planting, consider lowering the planting population. Recommended seeding rates vary based on location and conditions, so work with an AgriGold agronomist to best determine the ideal population for specific varieties. Along with planting populations, row spacing for most farmers is either 15 or 30-inch row widths. However, narrower rows can improve yields by offering complete canopy cover and increased sunlight interception. 

8. Planting depth:

Plan to plant soybeans between 1-1.5 inches deep. In general, in early planting situations, working in high-residue conditions, or tilled or moist soils, plan to plant at the shallower end of the depth range. This is especially important in fields where soil crusting is an issue, to ensure the seed can push through the soil. 

9. Replant options:

A backup plan is crucial when planting early or under any conditions due to unpredictable environmental challenges. Stay informed of your area’s insurance planting date cutoffs for replant decisions and with a local AgriGold agronomist to develop a worst-case scenario backup plan for seed selection in case of replanting. It’s always better to prepare for unforeseen circumstances and have contingency plans to mitigate potential losses. 

While there may not be a one-size-fits-all plan for planting soybeans (earlier or not), our team at AgriGold is equipped with the knowledge and resources to help maximize crop success. Reach out to a local AgriGold agronomist for any questions.