Best Conditions for Successful Seeding

April 28, 2022

For good seeding that in-turn will produce good harvests, every effort must be made to provide the best possible conditions for our seeds. Here are four aspects that must not be overlooked:

1) Soil preparation

2) Planting date

3) Variety selection

4) Seeding depth

Adequate soil preparation

Soybean culture is especially sensitive to soils in poor conditions, which can include: pulverization of soil particles due to over-tilling; poor aeration; poor drainage; and compaction. It is therefore important to evaluate the conditions of each field the soil conditions, so you know what challenges you face before you sow your seeds, in order to maximize your chances of good a good stand establishment.

Adequate soil moisture levels allow seeds to develop properly, so it is preferable to roll your fields after seeding to conserve the soil’s moisture. If the seeds are to germinate, they must absorb 50% of their weight in water.

Several cover crop species in the legume, grass, and Brassicaceae family can be planted for long-term soil structure and biodiversity improvement in Eastern Canada. Before you make your choice, several elements must be considered, depending on your goals. For example, fall rye is a good way to prepare your soil before you drill soybeans, because it improves the soil structure, protects it from the cold and prevents erosion. It also works together with other methods for weed suppression. According to several studies, rye termination on soybean planting day is responsible for adding more biomass to your soil than if the cover crop is terminated two weeks before. In short, the rye forms a protective mulch, while enriching the soil with organic matter.

Best timing for spring planting

Weather conditions in Eastern Canada are often unpredictable in spring and can lead to planting delays. For proper seed germination, soybeans must be sown in soil that has the right moisture level and at a temperature ranging between 10-13°C. If seeding early, it is preferable to plant in the early afternoon since soil temperature rises as the day goes on. It is important to check the soil temperature in several spots in the field, as the temperature can be different in some sections.

Before planting your field, check the weather forecast for the next 24 to 48 hours, to avoid exposing your seedings to heavy showers or overly cold temperatures following planting. Exposure to these conditions could have consequences, such as damping-off, or encourage insect pests like seedcorn maggot. Seeding in wet soil conditions is also to be avoided, since soil particles can cling to the tilling equipment, subsequently depositing clods of soil on the seedbed while compacting your soil.

With regards to yield, seeding in May is recommended. The later the planting date, the greater the risk of an impact on yield. Sowing in mid-June can lower your yield potential by 10 to 20%. In the event of a late spring frost after planting, if the unifoliate leaves are affected, but the cotyledons are not, there is a good chance that the soybean plant will recover. The soybean’s growing point is above ground, which explains why the cotyledons must not freeze. In the opposite case, if the cotyledons have frozen, your plants are likely to die; you will therefore have to assess the number of plants that remain afterwards, to decide whether reseeding is necessary.

Soybean variety selection

Choosing the right soybean variety for your farm before you plant is very important because it will help you maximize yield. When choosing a cultivar, be sure to base your selection on your needs in terms of disease and insect resistance, and make sure that the variety is recommended for the region where the crop will be established. As well, you will need to choose between an early or a late maturing variety, depending on your scheduled planting date and your harvest date, while also considering your maturity zone and the variety’s yield potential.

Sometimes it isn’t easy to be faced with all these different soybean varieties but know that our team is available to help you make the best possible choice.

Seeding depth

Good seeding practices are essential to the emergence of your soybean seedlings. The required depth, when field sowing your seeds, is 1.5 inches deep; and 1 inch in the case of No-Till planting in wet soil conditions. These data points will favour good seed germination. If sown too deep, the seed will have difficulty emerging from the soil and will be more vulnerable to diseases and insect pests. On the other hand, sowing too shallow in dry soils will not allow the seed the necessary moisture to germinate properly.  

A few tips

  • Remember to check your seeder’s performance in different fields, to ensure uniformity and good seed placement. (Ideally 1 to 1 1/2” depth)
  • In direct seeding, it is preferable to increase the plant population seed quantity by 10% to achieve good emergence, because the seeds are subject to more difficult conditions.
  • Weed suppression is important throughout the growing season to allow adequate soybean development.
  • Crop rotation is essential to nourish your soil and protect it against pests. For instance, a corn-soy rotation is the most widely practiced in Québec; however, increasingly, we are recommending a three-crop rotation, such as corn-soy-wheat.
  • Make sure that the seeds have enough moisture for healthy development in the early days after planting. (Always roll your field after planting to conserve moisture).

Hopefully, this article will help you successfully navigate your soybean seeding operation.

Wishing you an excellent 2022 growing season!