One of the single most important decisions you can make as a soybean grower is selecting the best variety for your field. Historically, growers have spent less time researching and carefully selecting a soybean variety than a corn hybrid, which can cost yield. According to Iowa State University, one soybean variety can out-yield another in the same field by 15 to 20 bu/A. To select the best soybean seed for your farm, consider the following:

Disease tolerance – A variety’s tolerance to yield damaging diseases is a key consideration. Researchers with the University of Minnesota suggest you look at the history and environmental conditions of your fields to help determine potential needs. In fields susceptible to diseases, including Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS), Iron Deficiency Chlorosis (IDC) or Phytophthora root rot, it’s recommended you plant varieties with genetic resistance.

Other pests – You also should take into account other yield-robbing pests. For example, the most damaging soybean pest in the Midwest is the soybean cyst nematode (SCN). If you have a history of SCN in your fields, you should plant SCN-resistant varieties. A majority of SCN-resistant soybean varieties use the PI88788 source of genetic resistance. If possible, rotate varieties to prevent SCN from building tolerance to the genetic source of resistance. Once the SCN-resistant variety is selected consider using a nematicide seed treatment for additional season-long protection.

Emergence – A fungicide seed treatment will help protect seed against seed and soilborne diseases that can hurt emergence. Healthy, uniform stands help maximize yield and return on your seed investment. Research from theUniversity of Wisconsin shows that in field trials, seed treated with a fungicide and an insecticide yielded better than untreated seed, while also increasing potential profit.

Yield – Of all the factors you consider when selecting a soybean variety, yield is usually No. 1. Research yield data from varieties in your local area. According to Iowa State University, multi-year performance results offer the most relevant data to help you make informed decisions. But don’t always assume the highest-yielding seed in field trials is the one to pick. A lower-yielding variety may actually work better based on a combination of agronomic needs. Research from the University of Missouri shows that while a soybean variety may be high-yielding, its performance is dependent on the environment and tolerance to pests and diseases.

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This article originally appeared on Syngenta’s Know More, Grow More agronomy blog and has been reposted with permission.

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