​​Determine Your Depth

Successful Seed Placement

Seed placement can affect emergence, yield potential, crop health and more. The first thing to consider is how deep you plant your seeds. Optimum seeding depth for a majority of soybean seeds and environmental conditions is 1 to 1.5 inches.

  • Cool, moist soils: plant 1 inch deep.
  • Heavy clay soils: plant 1 to 1.5 inches deep.
  • Sandy soils or soils low in moisture: plant 2 inches deep.
  • Seldom should soybeans be planted more than 2.5 inches deep.
It's not quite deep enough.  
Planting Depth:

Shallower than 1"

It's not quite deep enough.

Planting too shallow can limit moisture absorption and reduce emergence. It's important to plant soybeans into the right amount of moisture, so ideal planting depth is between 1" and 1.5".

You've hit the sweet spot for soybeans!  
Planting Depth:

Between 1–1.5"

You've hit the sweet spot for soybeans!

When planting, always try to plant soybeans between 1" and 1.5" deep. Above or below that range and your beans could suffer from emergence issues. And if you can't find moisture at this level, check another field that may be more appropriate for your beans.

Stop. You're in too deep.  
Planting Depth:

Deeper than 1.5"

Stop. You're in too deep.

Planting deeper than 1.5" can make it difficult for soybeans to emerge strong which makes them more susceptible to insects and diseases. The ideal planting depth is between 1" and 1.5" unless you are planting in sandy soils, which you want to plant around 2" deep.

Consider Your Row Spacing

Effect of harvest population on yield of soybeans grown in 15 inch and 30 inch rows.

Eight environments, 2004 to 2006, LSD (5%) =1.4 Bu/A) Source: 1Pedersen, P, Iowa State University Extension


Determine the Optimum Planting Date

Plant at the optimum time for your geography — don’t base it off of your corn planting schedule. Planting when soil temperatures and conditions are favorable is important to give your crop the best chance of successful emergence and a strong start. Waiting for proper soil temperatures and field conditions can also help avoid chilling injury, disease, lack of oxygen to the seeds and restricted plant growth.

  • Early planting can result in:
    • Increase in canopy photosynthesis throughout the season.
    • Greater number of main-stem nodes.
    • More rapid crop growth rate during pod set.
    • Potential for earlier flower and therefore longer reproductive period.
    • Greater seed filling rate.
  • Late planting can result in:
    • Reduced crop growth rates during reproductive periods.

Plan for Seed Germination

Calculate seeding rate using the pure live seed percentage found on certified seed tags or quality assurance paperwork.

Assess Field Conditions to Determine Seeding Rate

Your seeding rate depends on the conditions below. Use the checklist to assess your fields, then follow the recommended seeding rates to get a final stand of 100,000 plants per acre using a planter.

Planting Conditions

  • Good seedbed ("tillage")
  • 1- to 1.5-inch planting depth
  • Relatively new planter (<5 years old) or well maintained planter
  • Moderate planting speed (<6 mph)
  • Excellent seed quality

Recommended Seeding Rates

If you have 5 of the planting conditions above, the seeding rate should be 125,000 seeds per acre.
If you have 4 of the planting conditions above, the seeding rate should be 140,000 seeds per acre.

Source: Pedersen, P. Iowa State University

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