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When it comes to calculating seeding rates for no-tilled Roundup Ready soybeans, recent University of Maryland research indicates that you may not need as high a plant population as you might have thought to get top yields. Since seed costs are higher with biotech soybeans, Maryland grain and oil specialist Bob Kratochvil says you want to be aware of that fact.
He says Roundup Ready soybean varieties generally cost $7 to $12 per bushel more than the non-genetically modified varieties that were commonly grown just a few years ago. In addition, farmers who used to retain a small acreage of their production for soybean seed purposes can no longer do so with licensing agreements for biotech varieties. Plus, there are growing concerns about herbicide-resistant weeds in no-till soybean fields.
Kratochvil says many no-tillers are looking at reducing seeding rates as a way to trim expense. He says the current Maryland recommendations call for seeding rates of 175,000 for drilled and splitter-planted full-season beans. The recommendation jumps to 225,000 plants per acre for beans that are drilled or splitter-planted in a no-till double-crop program following small grain harvest.
“It is widely known that soybeans can compensate easily to a range of plant populations.” says Kratochvil. “You have probably witnessed that firsthand when you experience a relatively poor stand, yet still had an acceptable yield when the crop was harvested. It is this compensatory ability for soybeans that has no-tillers wondering about seeding rate reductions.”