Soybean Seed Quality

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Growers across the state are gearing up to plant soybeans. Dr. Bill Foote, Director of the NC Crop Improvement Association, discusses a few important soybean seed quality considerations below.

A uniform healthy stand of soybean plants is essential to maximize your yield potential. This all starts with genetically pure seeds that have been produced under a strict quality control program designed to maximize seed health, germination, and vigor. The genetic composition of a soybean variety dictates maturity date, disease and insect resistance, plant architecture and many other characteristics. The best assurance of obtaining genetically pure seed is to purchase certified or professionally conditioned seed. Seed health is related to seedborne pathogens present on or in soybean seeds. Pathogens can reduce germination potential and can in some cases transmit diseases. Professional seed producers take specific measures to reduce the level of seedborne pathogens and noxious weeds. Professionally cleaned seed goes beyond simple seed cleaning or basic removal of small and large seed contaminants. Misshapen, off colored, and low density seed are removed to reduce the spread of unwanted diseases, unwanted weeds, and non-uniform seed sizes. Seed lots high in germination and vigor potential will germinate more rapidly, more uniformly and produce more robust seedlings. These seedlings are more likely to survive moderate stress during the weeks following planting.

Always purchase seed from a reputable, professional seed dealer. Bargain seed from a stranger, or even a neighbor, may not be such a bargain. Along with their seed, you could be buying herbicide-resistant weed seed or mixed varieties. More importantly, you may even be purchasing illegally obtained plant genetics when you purchase from questionable sources. Almost all soybean varieties contain some form of plant protection associated with that seed. It may be in the form of licensing, plant patents, utility patents, or other US variety protection. That means saving seed for the purpose of producing next years’ crop is highly restricted and almost always requires permission from the variety owner. This information can best be found from the seed dealer when purchasing seed. If the seed dealer does not know this information, ask them to determine the level of seed protection or find another dealer. Public varieties offered for sale are typically protected by a license or a Plant Variety Protection Certificate. Much of the public variety information, including producers’ contact information and varieties produced, can be found at the North Carolina Crop Improvement Association (NCCIA) website. A brief summary of conventional varieties commonly offered for sale in North Carolina with the corresponding level of protection is contained in the table below.

Variety Name Variety Protection Can I Save Seed?
NC Miller Plant Variety Protection Act Yes-acreage limited to original planting
NC Roy Plant Variety Protection Act – Title V No-can only be reproduced as a class of certified seed
NC Dunphy NCSU License No
NC Dilday NCSU License No
NC Wilder NCSU License No
NC Raleigh None Yes
N7003CN NCSU License No
N8002 NCSU License No
Jake Plant Variety Protection Act Yes-acreage limited to original planting, applies to certified classes only
Cheraw Plant Variety Protection Act Yes-acreage limited to original planting, applies to certified classes only
Corbin Virginia Crop Improvement License No-can only be reproduced as a class of certified seed
USG Ellis US Plant Patent No
USG 5618V US Plant Patent No

Other useful seed information:

What’s Behind the Label on a Bag of Seed?

Image of soybean plants