ILSOYADVISOR POST

How to Use a Soybean Product Guide

Sometimes soybean product guides are like yield maps - pretty pictures, but they do not get much use.  However, just like that yield map, a product guide can produce valuable insight on how to manage a given soybean genetic line. Soybean varieties are typically selected based off their performance in yield trials or contests. But how often do farmers understand the do’s and don’ts of their high-yielding, selected soybean products?

Below are a few items that can be found in most quality soybean product guides. Now that we are in a modern digital age, many companies offer their product insight online through their company website. This winter, I challenge you to read up on the key products that you will be planting and write down three strengths and three weaknesses that you need to be prepared for.

1. Trait Packages:

In the years to come, it will become increasingly important to double check trait packages on products prior to ordering and planting. Not all post-applied herbicides can be applied across all soybean traits in the marketplace. 

2. Plant Structure:

  • Plant Height: Short, Medium, Tall (important for row spacing and manure applied fields)
  • Canopy: Narrow, Medium Bush, Bushy (important for weed control)

3. Agronomic Ratings:

  • Vigor: Planting early or challenging conditions need a strong score
  • No-till Adaptability: Will a given bean handle your tillage system?

4. Growth Habits:

  • Indeterminate: Continued flowering opportunity
  • Determinate: Fixed flowering opportunity

5. Disease Tolerance Ratings:

These ratings are based off breeder notes and technical agronomist insight from replicated field trials. It’s important to understand some of the genetic weaknesses of a plant so that we can manage accordingly.  It’s also important to know the field history of past diseases that have reduced yields:

  • SDS
  • Frogeye
  • White Mold
  • Brown Stem Rot
  • Charcoal Rot
  • Stem Canker
  • Phytophthora

6. Soil Adaptability Ratings:

  • Poorly Drained: Which of your fields fall into this category?
  • Marginal Soils: Which of your fields fall into this category?
  • Productive Soils: Which of your fields fall into this category?

7. Standability Ratings:

It is important to understand the standability rating. Is this rating based off of root/stalk strength/health or is it based off of a big canopy that can get lazy, but during harvest the plant has good standability?  Again, product guides do not always have the complete story, Side by Sides and field plots will provide great insight.

8. Stress Ratings:

This score provides indication on how well a genetic line will perform under heat and drought stress.


Todd Steinacher
Steinacher is an ISA CCA Soy Envoy alum and currently supports ISA on agronomic content as well as serving as an Illinois CCA board member. Since 2015, he has been a regional agronomist with AgriGold in West Central Illinois. His previous experience includes 10 years as a sales agronomist in the GROWMARK-FS system. Steinacher has an associate degree from Lincoln Land Community College, a B.S. in agronomy and business from Western Illinois University and a master’s degree in crop science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. If you have any questions for him about this article, he can be reached at steinacher@ilsoy.org.


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