Assessing Corn and Soybean Stands

  • Early assessment of corn and soybean stands can help identify potential crop concerns early in the season. 
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  • Once seedlings emerge, stand counts and visual inspection of the plants can help to identify problems from planting, insects, and/or diseases. 
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  • Three common methods for taking stand counts are the 1/1000th acre method, the wheel method, and the hoop method.
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1/1000th Acre Method

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Count the number of plants in a length of row equal to 1/1000th of an acre based on row width (Table 1). Multiply the number of plants by 1000 to get plants per acre. Repeat the process in several locations in the field for an accurate estimate.

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Table 1. Stand count evaluation for 1/1000th acre based on row width and number of plants in a given row length.
 Row Width
 
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 Row Length1/1000th acre 
 
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 7.5
 69' 8"
 15
 34' 10"
 20
 26' 2"
 22
 23' 9"
 30
 17' 5"
 36
 14' 6"
 38
 13' 9"
 40
 13' 1"
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When evaluating a corn or soybean stand, only count plants that have a good chance of survival. Keep in mind that while corn plant populations are a critical component of yield, soybean plants are better able to compensate for low plant populations. 

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Wheel Method

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Count 150 plants and measure the distance from start to finish with a measuring wheel. Divide the number of feet traveled into the appropriate factor in Table 2 to determine plant population. For example, if you walked 94 feet while counting 150 plants in 30-inch rows, the population is 2,613,600 ÷ 94 = 27,804 plants per acre. You may repeat the count several times and average the results.  

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Table 2. Stand count evaluation factors for measuring the distance when counting 150 plants.
 Row Width (inches)
 Factor
 20
 3,920,400
 30
 2,613,600
 36
 2,178,000
 38
 2,063,350 
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Hoop Method

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This method should be used for drilled soybeans. Measure the diameter of the hoop, toss it in the field, and count the number of plants inside the hoop. Do this in at least 5 locations in the field. Multiply the average number of plants by the appropriate factor listed in Table 3 to get the number of plants per acre.  Notice that having a diameter of 28 ¼ inches allows you to simply multiply by 10,000 to obtain the number of plants per acre. This size of hoop can be made by cutting anhydrous tubing to 88 ¾ inches and joining it to form a circle.  

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If a crop stand is being assessed for potential replanting, several factors should be taken into consideration, including if the field is irrigated or dryland, plant population, plant spacing, and the date of potential replanting.

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Table 3. Stand count evaluation factors, by hoop diameter, for determining soybean plant populations using the hoop. method.
 Diameter of Hoop (inches)
 Factor
 18
 24,662
 21
 18,119
 24
 13,872
 27
 10,961
 28 ¼
 10,000
 30
 8,878
 33
 7,337
 36
 6,165
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