Yield potential is never as high as the day your soybeans are planted.  Thanks to the advances of modern soybean genetics, soybeans now come packed with greater yield potential and built-in resistance to herbicides, diseases and pests than ever before.  But realizing the full potential of these genetic powerhouses requires a strong start from the very beginning of the growing season.

What’s the secret to starting strong?

Using fungicidal, insecticidal and plant growth regulator seed treatments to protect crops and enhance seed emergence.  In fact it’s one of the “Six Secrets of Soybean Success,” a checkoff-funded research project by Jason Haegele and Fred Below, University of Illinois.

According to Below, the benefits of seed treatments shine through from the day the seedling emerges all the way to harvest.  Stands are better, seedlings stronger and even at R2, the plant with seed treatments is larger, better nodulated and appears more vigorous.

Thinking about lowering your plant populations?  Better plan on adding seed treatments to the management mix to ensure you get a solid stand.  In fact, Below estimates that seed treatments can help boost yields an average of 2.6 bushels per acre.

Tips for nipping seedling diseases in the bud

For 2014, Jason Bond, University of Illinois, offers the following advice to keep seedling diseases from dragging down yields:

First, remember that both planting date and soil temperatures can affect the likelihood of a problem with seedling diseases.  Cool, wet springs and planting into cool soil temperatures can increase the likelihood of problems with seedling diseases.

If you’re tempted to get a jump on the season and plant while it’s still wet and cool, don’t skip the seed treatments.  You can also think about spreading out your planting window to reduce disease pressure.

Bond advises that if you do use seed treatments, keep in mind that results may not be the same in every field.  “Even though seedling diseases may look the same to you, that doesn’t mean they are the same.  Fields also may have the same pathogens, but in different percentages,” he adds.

If you have problems with seedling disease, contact the University of Illinois Plant Clinic.  Visit www.extension.illionois.edu/plantclinic to learn more.

Adapted from the February 2012 issue of Illinois Field&Bean.

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