How to Choose Soybean Varieties

Choosing the right soybean varieties is a critical factor for profitable soybean production.  Variety characteristics that can weigh heavily in the decision include: maturity, disease resistance, herbicide resistance, emergence, standability, row spacing and overall plant type. 

Keeping good field records from year-to-year will help determine which characteristics are most crucial when deciding which soybean varieties to plant in a given field in a given year.  If there were problems experienced with soybean fields in the previous year (e.g. Sudden Death Syndrome), remember those fields will most likely be planted to corn this coming year.  There should not be too much emphasis placed on problems from the previous year; it’s more important to check your field records to see what pressures that particular field faced when it was last planted to soybeans.

It’s always wise to spread risk by planting soybeans with different maturities.  To maximize yield potential, choose varieties with a five- to seven-day spread in maturity. Shorter season varieties are at less risk to late-season diseases but limit yield potential.  Make sure the fuller-season varieties you select have good disease packages.   

Planting varieties with disease resistance can be the most effective and the most economical method of disease control. Latham® soybean brands have good resistance or tolerance to the major diseases that occur in our trade territory including: Soybean Cyst Nematode (SCN), Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS), Brown Stem Rot (BSR), Iron Deficiency Chlorosis (IDC), White Mold and Phytophthora. Our 2011 Seed Guide provides a rating provided for each of these on pages 46-47.

If you’re planting soybeans with different herbicide traits (e.g. Roundup®-resistant versus LibertyLink®), careful records must also be kept to ensure the herbicide program matches the correct fields.  If you’re using a glyphosate-resistant program (i.e. Roundup) in both corn and soybeans, it’s best to use herbicides with alternative modes of action in a pre-plant or pre-emergent program.  This will help prevent selecting weed populations that grow resistant to glyphosate.

Don’t be afraid to try new soybean varieties, new traits and even new management practices.  Experimenting in your own fields is the only sure way to see if new ideas will work best for you!  If you have questions about what soybean brands might be best for your fields, please contact us with a comment in the field below, send an email to, or call
1-877-GO-LATHAM (1-877-465-2842).