There is a lot of talk about the soybean technology trait options growers can choose from in the upcoming years. Between Round Up Ready 2 Xtend®, Round Up Ready 2 Yield®, LibertyLink® and LibertyLink® GT27 all approved for production as well Enlist E3™, Xtend Flex® and MGI (Mesotrione, Glufosinate, and Isoxaflutole) currently in route for foreign approval there are enough choices to make any grower look at their options a little more in depth than in years past. With all these choices, how do growers decide which platform is best for their operation?
Going back to the basics and selecting a soybean variety solely based on yield and environment (field placement) has not gone away, but there are other factors that weigh heavily on growers’ minds today. In some cases yield, disease resistance and even standability are now taking a back seat to the trait platform selection. This is due to many factors including weed resistance, chemical application window, buffer size, availability of varieties and chemical tank mix options, just to name a few. Weed resistance and the management of future weed issues are the focus for many soybean growers across Illinois.
With new trait options such as Enlist E3, Xtend Flex and MGI currently in the approval process, the choices are growing and will continue to do so in the coming years. Today, one major downside we face is the unpredictable and slow foreign government trait approval process. This makes it more challenging for soybean technology trait suppliers to project a timeline for approval and commercialization of their products. Unfortunately, much of the information being passed along to companies is often based on rumors rather than facts. This creates challenges in passing on reliable timelines to growers, soybean parent seed production and potential soybean variety availability when products are approved.
With soybean seed cost being one of the largest expenses on a production acre, taking in all considerations when choosing the best soybean variety for your operation is critical:
  • Yield environment
  • Drainage and soil type
  • Weed control concerns and resistance
  • Soybean trait technology platforms
  • Herbicide usage
At the end of the day, the trait technology is only there to protect the genetic potential of the seed you’ve selected. And remember, environment still has the largest impact on yield. Understanding there is no “silver bullet” in selecting which trait platform will work best across every acre and accepting there is a place in the market today for all platforms are key. There are positives and negatives to each technology platform available today; it really takes growers looking at their own operation to see what best fits their needs.

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About the Author: Samantha Schmidgall

Schmidgall is a sales agronomist and Certified Crop Advisor for the GROWMARK-FS system in Toluca, Illinois, and supports East Central Illinois member companies Evergreen FS and Heritage FS. She enjoys working with growers to create unique full farm plans utilizing soil testing, fertility plans, seed, and chemistry for maximizing their yield by environment. She holds a bachelor’s in agriculture business from Western Illinois University. She can be reached at