Soybean Seed Quality Management

Categories: PLANTING, SOYBEANS
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Seed coat quality, lower germination tests and poor seed appearance are the major seed issues observed. Such developments are mainly due to hot and dry summer growing conditions, and/or wet conditions prior to harvest.
The standard industry germination rate is 85%. However, the Golden Harvest standard is higher than that – we aim for a 90% soybean germination rate. This season, it’s more likely seed will germinate at a rate of 80 to 85% across the industry. To help manage this year’s soybean seed quality concerns, here are some management tips and considerations for treatment, handling and seeding rates.

Seed Handling and Seed Treatment:
When handling soybeans or treating with a seed treatment, there are a few helpful reminders to maintain quality:
  1. Minimize the number of times the seed is handled
  2. Minimize seed drop height to less than 24 inches
  3. Belt conveyors should not reach speeds exceeding 300 feet per minute
  4. Seed should not impact the conveyor head as it discharges from the belt
  5. Try to keep the water content of the slurry mix as low as practical, to reduce damage from wetting and drying of the seed coat
How Seeding Rate Affects Yield and Profit Potential:
Minor seeding rate adjustments may be considered based on your current labeled germination rate, but soybeans often require much lower final stands than what is typically targeted. Golden Harvest Agronomy in Action research evaluated seeding rate response in 35 Midwest trials to better understand the minimum stand required to maximize both yield and return on investment.

The data from these trials showed no statistical yield response once seeding rates increased beyond 100,000 seeds per acre. In fact, the return on investment was maximized 57 to 70% of the time with seeding rates ranging from 100 to 140K, depending on the grain market price. Based on this data, slight seeding adjustments based on actual germination rates to target final stands greater than 100K will maximize your soybean yield, as well as return on investment.


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These recommendations are similar to prior research findings by Iowa State University.

Regional Optimal Seeding Rates:
There are regional differences relating to the lowest optimal soybean populations needed to maintain soybean yield potential. Corn and Soybean Digest published a three-part series summarizing about 400 published soybean population yield trials to observe regional differences. Results further support the previously listed Midwest-based trials, and also illustrate slight variations in longer and shorter growing season areas. Refer to the following articles for more data:
  • Part 1: Thanks to soybean’s forgiving physiology, fewer plants may bring better results
  • Part 2: The impact of location and timing on optimal growth
  • Part 3: Adjusting seeding rates based on multiple factors​​​​​​​
Contact your Golden Harvest Seed Advisor with questions or for additional agronomic insights. 


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