More important than cold soil temperatures after imbibitional water uptake is the soil moisture content. Cold soil delays the germination to emergence process, but cold soil plus soggy soil conditions of some duration can substantively reduce soybean emergence. Why? Soil-borne pathogens love soggy soil. Since the period of seedling germination to emergence takes longer due to the cold, those pathogens will have more time to infect the seedling cotyledons and access their carbohydrate, protein, and lipid reserves. The seedling needs those cotyledon reserves to live on until the unifoliolate leaves start photosynthesis and form more carbohydrates. This is why fungicide seed treatments are crucial if planting soybeans in April or early May and in cold, wet conditions. Ultimately, it is soggy soil with cold temperatures that kill your germination.

More Information

For additional research see Dynamics of Imbibition of Soybean Embryos by C.W. Vertucci et al. in Plant Physiology, the journal of the American Society of Plant Biologists.

–Jim Specht, UNL Professor of Agronomy and Horticulture

–Jenny Rees, Extension Educator



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