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Soybean supplies should be sufficient in Midwest states

Farmers want to know if they will have soybean seed to plant this spring. The good news is that most seed industry insiders believe there will be adequate supplies of good-quality soybean seed for planting this spring, especially across the heart of the Corn Belt.

“Soybeans are more delicate to handle than corn, and we have less control as seedsmen over how they’re dried,” explains Curt Clausen, director of North American production operations for Pioneer Hi-Bred. “Nevertheless, we expect to have a good supply of high-quality soybean seed for planting across most of the Midwest.”

As long as you’re planting Group II, III or IV varieties, Clausen feels very comfortable that supplies will be good. If you live on either extreme of the Corn Belt and plant either very early or very late varieties, there’s still uncertainty as to supply and quality.

“We don’t have all our reports in yet on the entire crop,” Clausen noted recently. “But so far we’re satisfied with where we are on quality and supply.”

Key Points

• Midwest soybean seed quality and quantity should be good.

• Seed processed at higher moisture content can be a plus.

• This could be the year when seed treatment pays.

Regional reports

The story coming from Jim Herr, in charge of seed processing for Beck’s Hybrids, Atlanta, is much the same. He says he’s putting as good or better quality in the bag this year as he ever has.

As company policy, Beck’s routinely treats all soybeans with a state-of-the-art seed treatment.

One factor worked in Beck’s favor, Herr says. “We saw less splits and mechanical damage because most soybeans were harvested at higher moisture percentages than normal,” he explains. “When they come in at 9% to 10% moisture, as many did in both 2007 and 2008, it’s tougher to handle them without creating damage.”

Bumps in the road

The picture isn’t quite as rosy everywhere, however. Alan Galbraith, assistant manager of the Indiana Crop Improvement Association, Lafayette, says it’s an average year at best for soybean quality coming into their lab. In fact, the average germination percentage to date is in the low 80% range.

A big culprit is pod and stem blight. The organism tends to decay during the winter. By spring, seed testing in the low 80s may test a few percentage points higher.

However, Galbraith cautions against thinking natural deterioration of pod and stem blight will solve your problems. If samples test in the 60s for germination now, an increase of a few percentage points won’t make that good seed, he says.

The bright spot is that seed treatment makes some pretty tough-testing samples very respectable, Galbraith says. In fact, he reports seeing more increase in germination percentage for treated soybean seed this year than usual.

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TOUGH FALL: Many soybeans were combined on the wet side, then air dried in the bin. Delivering them to the plant at 13.5% to 14% moisture vs. 9% can actually be a plus, Jim Herr says.

This article published in the January, 2010 edition of INDIANA PRAIRIE FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2010.