How Soil Sampling Can Influence Seed Decisions


When it comes to selecting hybrids and varieties in your fields, soil sampling should be a critical factor to consider – with pH being especially important. That’s why Golden Harvest breeders have been testing corn and soybean response to pH for nearly 20 years. pH measures relative acidity or alkalinity of the soil, and soils typically range on a scale from 3.5 to 10, with the optimum target being from 6 to 7. Nutrients such as phosphorus, manganese and zinc become less available when pH exceeds 7.5. Here are the 3 different pH levels and what you can do about your test results:

·         Low pH: Soil acidity increases as pH drops below 7 (neutral pH), so if you see field results below 5.5, you may want to consider a lime application.
·         High pH: Soil alkalinity increases as pH rises above 7 (neutral pH), so in instances of field results above 7.8, using the proper combination and placement nutrients is important to aid in plant uptake. Varietal selection tolerant to high pH in both corn and soybeans is critical to a successful crop.
·        Ideal pH: Levels between 6 and 7 are optimum, so when your fields test within this window, you’re right where you should be.
Before Golden Harvest corn and soybeans are released with a high pH tolerance rating, uniform testing is conducted in Nebraska 4 times a year on a 10-acre plot. Not a Golden Harvest hybrid or variety goes untested, and even competitor products such as those from DeKalb and Pioneer undergo standardized testing. Hybrids and varieties are measured for pH levels at 4 stages: emergence, V5-V6 and twice during the reproductive stages.
Taking a closer look at the pH levels on your own farm, collect soil samples from a depth of 6 to 8 inches every 2 to 4 years. Sampling soil 3 to 6 months before planting the next crop allows enough time to develop a nutrient plan to address what your pH might demand. Late fall or early winter is the perfect time to discover what is going on in your fields. As a guideline, obtain 15 to 20 soil cores for an area of 20 acres or less, and make sure to clean your sampling instruments to avoid contamination as you go from one area to another.
Knowing how a variety or hybrid responds to pH helps ensure proper product placement in your fields so you can maximize both plant health and yield. Once you have a clear understanding of your fields’ pH levels, then you are several steps ahead of starting off on the right foot come planting. For more help determining soil solutions for your fields, contact Golden Harvest Seed Advisor with questions or for additional agronomic insights.
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