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Forage Soybean Planting Guide

When planting soybeans for deer, forage soybeans for cattle, or forage soybeans for hay, this guide can assist you in obtaining the best results.


Soil Adaptation for Forage Soybean Planting

Specialty Seed’s forage soybeans are adapted to most soil types and conditions.  Soil drainage is important as standing water on soybean plants for extended periods can hurt yield, both forage and grain yields.  Planting into deep sand can limit yield too without regular rain events. Soil pH range should be 5.5 to 7.0.


Forage Soybean Planting Dates

What are the best months to plant soybeans? April 15 through July.  How late can you plant soybeans for deer? Earlier planting dates generally allows for more forage production.  Planting during “Green Up” of the area’s native plants may take some browse pressure off of the soybeans allowing them to attain growth.  The earlier the planting the better for forage soybeans.  Do not plant prior to the average last frost date as a frost can hurt the plants.


Fertilization for Forage Soybeans 

Apply fertilizer according to soil test recommendations.  May apply 50 lbs./ac of 0-46-0 and 50 lbs/ac of 0-0-60 at time of planting. Forage soybeans for deer can respond to fertilizer by increasing forage production and being more resilient to browsing. Soybeans are legumes which do create their own nitrogen when the proper inoculant (i.e., bacteria) is available to the plant. SEE INOCULANT INFO BELOW.  The proper soil bacteria allows the plant to fixate nitrogen naturally.  A growth and forage yield bump has been observed in our own farm tests when nitrogen is applied to the crop.  Both commercial fertilizer and chicken litter has been used with good results. 


Soil Preparation for Forage Soybeans

Plant in a well-prepared, firm seedbed.  Planting “No-Till” works well if the proper equipment is available, and if the right herbicides are used properly to reduce weeds at planting.


Soybean Planting Rates

How much forage soybeans per acre? If using a seed drill or planter, plant at least 140,000 seeds per acre.  Most bags of soybeans contain at least 140,000 seed.  If planting for livestock forage, plant at a rate greater than 140,000 seed per acre to get smaller diameter plant stems. Smaller plant stem diameter can increase digestibility.  

How to plant soybeans by broadcast? If broadcasting soybeans, plant 1.5 bags per acre into a well prepared seedbed. Cover seeds to 1 inch deep.


Inoculants for Forage Soybeans

StrainS inoculant is needed the first year soybeans are planted on ground where soybeans have never planted or have not been planted in a long time.  It is strongly encouraged to use inoculant each year soybeans are planted.  Research has shown a yield increase for soybeans that are inoculated each year as compared to soybeans that are not.  Inoculant is cheap insurance. If planting soybeans for deer or cattle in an area that has been flooded for an extended period, it is recommended to inoculate the seed.  Flooding can kill the inoculant bacteria in the soil.


Forage Soybean Management

Large deer food plots may be required in areas of high deer density and you may have to prevent grazing for the first month following germination to allow plots to become established.


Recommended Herbicides for Forage Soybeans

Use a preemergence application of Pursuit (4 fl. oz/ac) or Prowl 3.3 EC (1 to 3 pts/ac) to control many warm-season annual weeds. Use a postemergence application of Select (10 fl. oz/ac) or Poast Plus (2 to 3 pts/ac) to control grass weeds. Where sicklepod is a problem, we recommend a postemergence application of either Frontrow (0.4 fl. oz/ac), Blazer (2 pts/ac), or Butyrac 200 (2 pts/ac). You can also use an early postemergence application of Pursuit to control grass weeds. Many commercial herbicides available for soybeans include glyphosate-tolerant technology.


Consult MSU Extension Publication 1532 Weed Control Guidelines for Mississippi for best information to suit your system, or consult your state’s extension service for weed control guidelines specific to your needs.