The days are longer, the birds are chirping and the trees are beginning to bud. For soybean farmers, it can only mean one thing: Planting season has arrived. And with planting season comes a wave of information; some of it helpful, some maybe not as much. Because everyone needs their lives made a little easier this time of year, here are the top six planting tips you should keep in mind.
- Know your soil type and condition. Coarse? Dry? High-residue? Knowing your soil is crucial in determining a range of factors when planting this season, including the right depth to plant. It’s desirable to plant deeper, closer to 2 inches, in sandy soils. In fine-textured soils, keeping seeds at shallower depths, between 1 and 1.5 inches, is best.
- The early farmer gets the yield. Soybean yields respond to early planting, so get those seeds in the ground as early as possible. However, soil condition trumps timing. Wait out extreme weather forecasts and exceedingly dry soil. And avoid the risk of a late frost or freeze by considering your emergence date, which usually comes seven to 10 days after planting.
- Weeds can “spring” back to life. After a harsh winter, it’s hard to believe anything could survive, but several species of weeds can lay dormant over the cold months and make unwelcome appearances before planting. Research funded by the Louisiana Soybean & Grain Research & Promotion Board has shown that maintaining weed-free soybean fields for the first five weeks after planting maximizes yield. For more weed-management tips, visit www.TakeActionOnWeeds.com.
- Stick to the straight and narrow. While some farmers are moving away from narrow rows, research shows return per acre can be maximized by planting rows narrower than 30 inches. “By widening rows, farmers are giving up more yield than they choose to believe, and this yield loss cancels any yield gains from inputs, based on our data,” says Seth Naeve, Ph.D., University of Minnesota.
- Save the worst for last. Did you know that soybean sudden death syndrome (SDS) is now among the top yield-robbing diseases in the U.S.? Soy-checkoff-funded studies show SDS cost U.S. farmers in excess of 25 million bushels in 2013 alone. While there are no varieties with complete resistance at this time, when conditions are warm and dry, be sure to plant fields with a history of SDS last.
- Stay safe out there. Every day, about 167 agricultural workers suffer a lost-work-time injury, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Five percent of these injuries result in permanent impairment. And farming is one of the few industries in which families are also at risk. Keep yourself and your loved ones safe this season. Know your surroundings, don’t skip out on sleep or operate any heavy machinery while drowsy and keep your equipment properly maintained.
This article originally appeared in United Soybean Board’s News from the Checkoff and has been reposted with permission.