How to Approach Soybean Seed Selection
Seed selection is one of the most important decisions farmers make each year. It involves reviewing the latest private and university research, paying close attention to what’s happening in their fields and talking with a trusted seed advisor or agronomist about options to match overall management plans. With so much innovative trait technology out there, balancing the opportunity to test new varieties and planting ones that yield proven results can also be a complex.
Though seed alone doesn’t guarantee a successful growing season, it is a key first step. Northwest Ohio farmer and seed representative, Scott Gillen, and Pioneer Territory Manager Chasitie Euler have a combined 44 years in the seed industry. They’ve outlined an approach to help Ohio growers get their next soybean crop off to the right start.
Select Soybean Varieties for Yield Potential
Yield is still the top factor to look for when it comes to selecting soybean varieties. Gillen looks at several sources to evaluate top performers, including company websites and university publications. He also talks with other dealers to find out how their plots performed before making decisions for his farm.
Align Seed Choice With Herbicide Strategy
While it should not be the deciding factor, it’s important to make sure seed traits align with weed control strategies. Herbicide resistance is becoming more of a challenge across the U.S. With the complexity of rotating chemistries and using overlapping residuals, farmers need to ensure seed and chemicals are working together for high yields.
No matter what weed control system is chosen, Euler says it’s critical to start with a weed-free farm before planting. Incorporating a fall herbicide plan followed up by strong residual just before planting will lessen the chance of taking down larger weeds in-crop.
Consider Soil Types and Defend Against Diseases
Next, consider the different soil types and diseases that can harm plants. According to Euler, Ohio is “king” for phytophthora, which is prone to popping up in heavy, clay soils. Sandy, light soils are breeding grounds for white mold, sudden death syndrome and soybean cyst nematodes (SCN). Selecting seed traits and treatments that combat these yield robbers is key to keeping them in check for the growing season.
Euler also suggests spending time testing soils in the fall to truly quantify SCN populations. Since there is a high correlation between nematode infestations and sudden death syndrome, it might be smart to select varieties that protect against both or switch up your crop rotation and plant corn instead. Growers can select the “Peking” or “PI8878” trait for SCN resistance and identify nematicide seed treatments to provide the best protection against the pest.
Account for Row Width, Plant Height and Canopy
Select seeds that will thrive according to selected row spacing. For most Ohio soybeans, the sweet spot is 15-inch rows. Identify varieties that have strong standability in narrow or wide canopies or select varieties that will bush out more in wide rows. However, Euler notes some farmers are starting to go wider and plant lower populations (120,000 vs. 180,000) in their more productive soils with good results. Keep in mind that air movement between plants is ideal for combatting white mold.
New Seed Trait Technology
When it comes to testing new seed technology, there’s plenty to get excited about. However, it’s good to test new seed on a limited number of acres the first year. Gillen plants test plots to see how new varieties perform on his farm before making large-scale purchases. He also talks with dealers and reads trial information to compare his results with others. If the technology performs well consistently in different environmental conditions, he’ll plant more acres in the future.
Both Euler and Gillen acknowledge that price and economics can also drive seed purchase decisions. For farmers that need to plant beans on beans, they highly suggest working with a dealer to choose seeds with strong disease tolerance.
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