Soybean Seed Quality Concerns going into 2019

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Most farmers had their fair share of seed quality issues during fall 2018, including many seed bean producers. The commercial seed supply is expected to be impacted some by weathering at harvest, with severity depending on maturity group and field location.

In most years, a typical soybean bag has a germination percentage of around 85%. Tennessee requires all commercially sold soybean seed to have a minimum seed germination percentage of 75%, however, there is a variance allowed on seed germination of 9%.  This means if I ran my own germ test and achieved 66% or greater germ, a 75% germ bag meets minimum quality standards for TN. In most years, the actual germ is higher than the tagged germ, however, with quality issues on the rise, be advised that the actual germ of some products may be much closer to the tagged germ amount. Additionally, seed quality of a lesser quality bean would be expected to decline at a faster rate between now and May or June, further reducing germination potential.

  • Be aware of germination percentages on seed containers
  • Later Maturity group varieties might be more impacted- in our plant date studies at Milan, early and late May planted Maturity group 4 and 5 varieties had more seed disease at harvest than Group 2 or 3 beans planted during May, however, quality will depend on specific local growing conditions of the seed bean
  • Apply a seed fungicide – fungicide can improve germination percentages of lesser quality seed
  • Don’t underplant to save seed- probably not the year to trim seeding rates with lower germ seed, especially if planting into challenging conditions like cold or very hot soils or into cover crops
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