Soybean Replanting Decisions

— Written By Hunter Rhodes and last updated by
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Following the abundance of rainfall during the 2020 growing season, most if not all of Sampson County is facing drought conditions to begin the 2021 growing season. Growers with adequate moisture are getting their soybeans planted, while others are postponing until some rain finds its way here. Replanting may be necessary in areas where drought conditions persist. However, there are several factors that need to be considered while making replant decisions.

Stand counts are a crucial and simple step when making replanting decisions. A common method used to get a stand count is counting plants in a row length that represents 1/1000th of an acre. This will vary depending on row width. For 15 inch row width, you will need to measure 34 ft 10 inches of row length, while for 30 inch row width, you will need to measure 17 ft 5 inches. Measure this length in  5 to 10 random rows within a field and average the number of plants in each count together. Multiplying this number by 1000 will give you an average plant population. While it may be tempting to measure the areas of a field where poor stands can be seen, a truly random sample is needed to ensure your average is correct.

While your soybean counts may be lower than you had expected, you need not worry quite yet.

Numerous seeding rate studies suggest optimum soybean seeding rates range from 80,000 to 120,000. Optimum stand counts for return are as follows.

May planting:75,000; June planting: 90,000; July planting: 100,000.

However, soybeans have the ability to compensate for low stands and can produce similar yields across a range of plant populations. Fields with a uniform stand count of 50,000 or greater that is lacking large gaps should not be replanted as the existing stand has the potential to yield close to optimal under normal growing conditions.

Keep in mind that soybeans planted after mid June in NC often result in ½ bushel per day yield loss. It is also important to weigh the cost of replanting with the possible yield benefit you can see from replanting. If the increased yield potential won’t cover your cost of replanting, then your resources may be more effective if focused on herbicide, fertility, and/or fungicide application on the existing crop.

Replanting will only be beneficial if the original problem is corrected or avoided. If you are unsure what caused poor soybean stands, reach out to your county agent so they can work with you to resolve the issue. Every farm is different and replanting is a big decision. Please reach out to your county agent to discuss options that will work best for your operation.

For more information, contact the N.C. Cooperative Extension of Sampson County office at 910-592-7161.