Soybean farmers have long known the earlier they can get their seed into the ground, the more opportunity it has to develop a bountiful yield. But crop planting is challenging business. In most climates, soybean planting season overlaps with unpredictable weather. Conditions could be ideal for seed germination one week, then rainy and cold the next. Farmers who wait for more consistently favorable conditions could sacrifice yield. But planting too early can expose seed to diseases, insects and nematodes that thrive in cool, wet soil.
Recent advances in seed treatments are addressing these challenges, allowing farmers to plant early while protecting soybeans from common threats, so they can have more flexibility in their season and bring in more bushels at harvest.
Advantages of early planting
Soybeans benefit from time in the sun. When planted early, they’re able to make the most of long daylight hours in summer. Early planting also creates a longer reproductive window. Since that’s when soybeans produce the nodes that lead to pods and seeds, this can improve yield. In one study in the U.S., soybeans planted early yielded an average of six more bushels per acre.1
Threats to early-planted soybeans
Seed that goes into the ground early faces a number of challenges. First, the cold itself stresses the seed. In cooler soil, the seed is also slower to germinate. The longer the seed is underground, the more time pests have to attack it. Wet soils—common in the early part of the season—add to disease susceptibility.
Seed treatments protect early-planted soybeans
New seed treatment technologies provide effective protection for soybeans, helping them get off to a healthy start even if early-season conditions are less than ideal. Different seed treatments protect against different threats. Advanced seed treatments from Corteva Agriscience can be applied individually to seed or used in combined formulas. This helps farmers customize their seed protection based on the pressures in their fields. For example, Corteva seed treatment blends can include products that protect against fungal diseases like Phytophthora (the leading yield-robbing disease in soybeans), feeding insects such as grubs and soybean cyst nematodes that damage roots. This gives the seed thorough protection during its most vulnerable time and can increase yield potential.
Seed treatments contribute to reducing a farmer’s environmental footprint as well. With seed already protected against various threats, farmers may not need to apply as much crop protection product once the plant emerges. This is good for the farmer’s bottom line, too—requiring fewer resources and less labor.
Early planting has always been an option for soybean farmers looking to maximize the potential of their season. Now, thanks to advanced seed treatments, it’s a choice farmers can make with less worry about risk and more opportunity for reward.
1 Ryan Van Roekel, “The Importance of Early Planting for Soybeans in the Midwest,” Pioneer Seeds. May 7, 2019, https://www.pioneer.com/us/agronomy/early-soybean-planting.html.