Soybean South


2009 Seed Quality Is ‘Outstanding’

Mississippi specialist says the quality of seed for this year’s
soybean crop is excellent – much better than the seed that
was available last year.

By Bonnie Coblentz

Producers getting ready to plant soybeans in 2009 can expect fewer problems than they faced last year when they dealt with seed shortages, poor quality and small sizes. Trey Koger, soybean specialist with the Missis-sippi State University Extension Service, says poor germination and vigor resulted in a significant amount of seed withheld from sale last year.

“This, coupled with extreme demand due to high soybean prices, resulted in a shortage of good quality seed to be planted last year for many varieties,” Koger says.

Once their soybeans came up, quite a few producers found they had more plants per foot of row than they expected.

“A common theme last year was that we planted nine seeds per foot of row, and we got 10 to 12 plants up,” Koger says. “This happened because seed size last year was extremely small, and planters often dropped two seeds instead of one.”

Koger says soybean seed for planting usually averages about 2,900 seeds per pound. Last year, seed size was smaller at 3,400 per pound.

“This resulted in some higher than desired plant populations,” he explains. “When this was coupled with later than desired planting, we had some lodging in fields. Many producers planted more seed than desired to try to lessen their risk of stand failure, knowing there was very little seed available for replanting if needed.”

Germination rates greatly increased
The good news is that none of these problems should be an issue for 2009.

“Overall seed quality for this year’s crop is outstanding,” Koger says.

The Mississippi Department of Agriculture’s Seed Testing Lab in Starkville routinely tests the soybean seed that will be planted and has announced the results of this year’s tests.

• Overall, 96 percent of soybean seed tested had an 80 percent or better germination rate compared to only 60 percent of seed planted last year that had an 80 percent or better germination rate.

• This year, 77 percent of the seed tested at better than 90 percent germination. Last year, 40 percent was below 80 percent germination.

“Germination levels for seed to be planted in this year’s crop are excellent and at near record levels,” Koger says.

Vigor is a measure of the seed’s health and vitality. Koger says soybean seed available this year has excellent vigor and is much better than last year’s seed. With plenty of good quality seed available, he reminds producers to plant according to recommended seeding rates. Planting at higher rates will likely produce an inferior crop.

Check out variety trials
Each year MSU conducts variety trials on several types of seed available for growers, including corn, wheat, oats and soybeans. The complete soybean variety trial information for Mississippi State can be found online at

Bernie White, operations manager for variety evaluations with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, says the variety trials are a valuable tool for producers to help match soil types and growing conditions with desirable soybean varieties.

“This is one of the tools producers use to determine which varieties are best adapted to their situation,” White says. “It gives them a chance to have a profitable operation.”

In 2008, MSU tested 256 soybean varieties and should test more than 260 this year. Seed tested includes Roundup Ready varieties and seed with new technologies.

“We’ll be testing some new seed before they are even available to producers,” White says.

Bonnie Coblentz is with MSU Ag Communications at Mississippi State University in Starkville.