The History of Latham® IRONCLAD™ Soybeans

Soybean Cyst Nematode, Iron Deficiency Chlorosis, Phytophthora Root Rot and Sudden Death Syndrome are just a few of the pests, diseases and agronomic issues that have contributed to lower yields and higher costs. Farmers, who needed protection against these agronomic issues, were hesitant to plant defensive soybean lines in fear of giving up yield.

Then in the late 1990s soybean breeding techniques were developed that could quickly identify cultivars that had sound defensive traits and were high yielding.

In 2011, Bill Latham, then head of Latham’s Research program, challenged our Soybean Product Team to find an idea or a concept that would help change the way farmers felt about defensive soybean products. Bill, an ex-Marine aviator, was a military history buff as were several other members of our team at that time. We remembered back to the pre-Civil War era when naval warships were made almost exclusively out of wood. Offensive firepower from these ships was quickly outmatching their wooden defense. Innovators at the time were quick to experiment with using iron plates over the wooden sides. Hence, the term “Ironclad” was born.

The first ever battle between two ironclads took place in 1862. The Monitor was the Union warship. The Confederacy had captured the Union ship Merrimack, plated it with iron, and renamed it the CSS Virginia. However, the battle has gone down in history as the Monitor versus the Merrimack. Although both sides claimed a victory, in essence it was a draw as neither ship could sink the other. It did, however, dramatically change the course of naval warfare. From that battle on, navies all over the globe began using metal plates over wood and eventually made their ships completely out of metal!

Back to 2011… After much discussion, it was decided to use the designation of IRONCLAD™ for Latham brand soybeans that had a resistance gene for Soybean Cyst Nematode, a gene for Phytophthora Root Rot and scores of 2.2 or better (on a scale of 1-5) against Brown Stem Rot, Iron Deficiency Chlorosis and either White Mold or Sudden Death Syndrome.

Latham’s first IRONCLAD soybeans were introduced in our 2013 Product Guide. It was quickly evident that these defensive traits were exactly what farmers in Latham Country needed to protect yield and increase profitability.

It should be noted here that since the start of our Ironclad program, we have never had a #1 selling soybean that was NOT an IRONCLAD! Additionally, our 2021 Product Guide features 28 Ironclad soybeans out of the total 56 we have listed. That’s truly an amazing advancement during a short eight-year period of time!