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Determining adequate stands for cotton, peanuts or soybeans

Determining adequate stands for cotton, peanuts or soybeans

AUBURN, Ala. — What is an adequate stand? A grower must maintain healthy and uniform stands to increase the chances of a healthy planting season but how does the grower know what an adequate stand is? For peanuts, cotton and soybeans, the answer to that question is similar in some areas and different in others. Good soil moisture and temperature is a good start to the process to achieving adequate stands in row crop production.

Adequate Cotton Stands

When planting and growing cotton, getting an adequate stand is the most crucial component of the cotton season. The soil temperature must be 65 degrees at a depth of four inches for three days with a good forecast.

Along with soil temperature, a grower must maintain proper seed depth of 0.5 to 1.5 inches, seed placement, seeding rate and good soil moisture.  Too much moisture can lead to crusting.

To calculate the final plant stand, pull a tape measure in sections of 10 feet and count viable plants. It is recommended that there be a minimum of two plants per foot or as close as possible.

Row Crop Extension Specialist, William Birdsong, is ready for the next planting season.

“I’ve had a lot of calls from growers, and my prediction is that right after this cold front pushes through, we are going to heat up and the planting season is going to kickoff in South Alabama.”

Adequate Peanut Stands

Effective factors include for peanut stands include: perfect germination of seed, soil temperature, soil moisture, seedlings diseases, herbicide damage and seed to soil contact. A farmer must know what is being planted at that particular time.

Kris Balkcom, a research associate in the Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences at Auburn University said all peanut seed are required to be 75 percent germ.

Soil temperature and soil moisture are important to a peanut stand because if the soil is hot and dry a seed will not germinate properly. Decreased numbers of stand can also occur if the soil is wet and cool.

For maximum germination and adequate stand production, the seed need a good seedbed in the strips of soil with no air pockets.

The two most common types of peanut stands are uniform and erratic. A uniform solid stand has good full rows while an erratic stand has patches of plants that are very spread out.

To prevent an erratic group of stands, Balkcom said, “First identify the source of the stand problem so it can be corrected for future planting. Look for a pattern whether it is the soil type, moisture, herbicide injury, or seed source.”

To ensure maximum yields, it is recommended that farmers plant six seeds per foot in single 36 inch rows or five seeds per foot in single 30-inch rows.

“The take home message here is that if you are in a high rainfall situation area or in an irrigated scenario, the plants have a better chance to overcompensate to overcome that skippy stand than in a dry land situation where the plants may not receive the amount of rainfall needed to compensate the skip and make maximum yield potential,” Balkcom said.

Adequate Soybean Stands

Soybeans can be resilient to varying plant populations. Some will branch out more or less depending on space. Each soybean plant can take up to a 10-inch radius per plant.

Aside from the yield of the crop, other agronomic considerations can be the cause of low population such as weed control or harvest ease.

Growers can determine the density of their stands by counting plants in several places down the rows. For 30-inch rows, there should be six plants per foot and for 36-inch rows; there should be seven plants per foot.

To learn more about adequate stands in other row crops, or for other information about row crops in Alabama, visit the Alabama Crops website. For more information on adequate stands of cotton, peanuts or soybeans, contact your county Extension agent.

About Emily Thompson