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Soybean Seeding Rates - from Mike Roegge

Posted by John Fulton -

During the past few years, producers have seen seed costs rise to record levels. Last summer's record crop prices no doubt led seed companies to believe producer incomes would allow these higher prices. However we've seen corn prices retreat almost 50% from those summer highs. And incomes based upon these lower prices just don't allow for much in the way of input price increases. Consequentially, we've seen a retreat of seed prices in many instances.

Producers are investigating any and all ways in which to improve efficiencies. And seeding rates are one of those concerns. In the Midwest over the past few years, there have been several studies to examine soybean seeding rates. And they've all led to the same conclusion- most producers overplant soybean seed, some by a great deal.

Eric Adee, at the U of I Monmouth Research Center ran a soybean seeding rate study for 3 years. He determined economic seeding rates based upon yield, soybean seed price and soybean selling price. These were seeding in 15" rows, using a pre-emerge herbicide, followed by one application of glyphosate (the key here is use of a pre-emerge herbicide to keep weed populations low). Stand counts ranged from 75,000-145,000 plants per acre, but yields only varied by 4 bushels/acre. These results are not much different than many other studies.

So, figuring economic seeding rates based upon seed cost and price received is a simple calculation. Using a seed cost of $40 per 150K seeds and a selling price of $9, the optimal final stand would be 114K plants. At a seed cost of $50 and selling price of $8, the optimal final stand would be 102K.

These are final stands, not seeding rates. You'll need to compensate for those seeds that don't germinate. You'll also need to use a pre-emerge herbicide (you should anyway to reduce weed resistance) to allow maximum yields by keeping weeds to a minimum in these stands.



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