Soybean Product Selection Considerations

  • Maximizing yield potential and minimizing risk are two main goals when selecting soybean products.
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  • The maximum yield potential of a soybean product is genetically determined and can only be achieved under ideal environmental and management conditions.1
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  • Spreading out relative maturity of products can help decrease the risk of drought and improve harvest efficiency.
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Figure 1

Figure 1. Soybean products are bred for tolerance or resistance to diseases of pests such as soybean cyst nematode (top left), frogeye leaf spot (bottom left), and phytophthora root rot (right).

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When selecting a soybean product growers are looking to maximize profit. It may be tempting to select a soybean product with the highest yield based on trial data; however, this may not be the best choice for a given operation or field environment. Managing risk is very critical with the increasing cost of soybean production. Soybean characteristics that should be considered during product selection are yield potential, disease/pest resistance, maturity group (MG), product traits, plant height, and standability.

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Analyze product characteristics to find the soybean product with the best fit. Refer to field history relating to pests such as pathogens, insects, or weed problems to determine what soybean product characteristics or traits can provide the highest yield potential.

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Yield Potential

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Generally, the first selection criteria when evaluating soybean products is yield potential, followed by various agronomic characteristics. Product performance in plots across multiple locations and years can indicate the consistency and yield potential of a product. Yield data also can help indicate which environmental conditions the product tends to excel in. Multiple locations and several years of data can help provide reliable yield information to help make selection decisions.

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Seed companies typically provide information from trials on their products in comparison to competitors for the region. Asgrow soybean trial results are available at the aganytime website at https://www.aganytime.com/agahead/. Also check with your state University Extension service for soybean product trial results.

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Disease/Pest Resistance

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It is important to evaluate products for tolerance or resistance to pests that are common in your geography. The characteristics of a soybean product selected should match key management issues for the field it will be planted in. Planting of a soybean product with resistance to major soybean diseases or nematode species is an effective and economical method of risk management. Asgrow® brand soybean products are rated according to their tolerance or resistance to different soybean pests. Some soybean products have been bred for resistance or tolerance to phytophthora root rot, soybean cyst nematode, root knot nematode, and some leaf diseases.2 When any of these pests are a known problem, selection of a soybean product with resistance or tolerance can improve yield potential and reduce the need for other forms of pest management.

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Maturity Groups

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Soybean maturity classification describes the time from flowering to harvest maturity.1 Selection of a soybean product that is too early or too late for a specific location can result in reduced performance potential.2 It is suggested that the latest soybean product selected is one that reaches physiological maturity just prior to the date when there is a 20% chance of a killing frost. Growers should plant a combination of different MGs to help minimize the risk of drought by spreading out flowering, seed fill, and maturity.1

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Plant Height and Standability

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Figure 2

Figure 2. Lodged soybean plants. Soybean products should be selected based on their susceptibility for lodging.

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The taller the soybean plant, the more susceptible it is to lodging. Fertile soils with adequate moisture stimulate vegetative growth, increasing lodging potential. Refer to the lodging rating of the soybean product to help with selection. If lodging is a problem with a full-season product, a shorter season product may reduce standability problems.

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Other agronomic practices that can help reduce lodging potential include: lower seeding rates, planting earlier or later than normal, or selection of a product that is a shorter plant type.

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Other Considerations

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Figure 3  
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Some growers may select soybean products with unique grain composition characteristics that will provide them a premium when sold. Soybean seeds with high oil, protein, and amino acid content may improve the value of a soybean crop, depending on marketing. Soybean products may also be grown for a specific food use with required management practices. In these situations, a soybean product or specific listing of products may be provided.

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Only high-quality seed should be planted that is uniform in size, has no cracked coats or discoloration, and has a high germ rating. Certified seed from dealers must meet requirements. High-quality seed is always important to the overall performance of a soybean product.

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Summary

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It can be difficult to determine what soybean product is best fit for each field situation, but evaluating university and company research trials and testing with on farm plots can help in determining the right soybean for an operation.