Selecting a variety for proper maturity, disease tolerance, standability, and yield performance is essential for successful soybean production. Maturity is identified by maturity groups, as described above. Figure 1.6-2 shows suggested maturity groups for each county in Pennsylvania. There is a trend in the seed industry to include a varieties relative maturity as part of its name. For example, company ABC would name a late group III as ABC 3850 whereas an early group III would be ABC 3125.
Soybean varieties are developed mostly by private industry. Nearly all the soybeans grown in Pennsylvania are transgenic. Most of these are glyphosate tolerant, although other traits such as glufosinate, dicamba, and ALS-resistant soybeans are increasing in use. For more information, see the section on soybean pest management. Performance data for many of these varieties are reported in the annual publication Soybean Performance Report, available from county offices of Penn State Cooperative Extension and online at cornandsoybeans.psu.edu.
Poor-quality seed may limit yield and crop performance because of low germination, excessive foreign material, weed seed, and seed of other varieties or crops. Soybean seed is sensitive to rough handling and storage conditions. Bin run grain should not be used for seed since most seed now is for Roundup Ready varieties and saving the seed from these is illegal. Even for conventional varieties, the practice is not likely to be profitable. Studies comparing high-quality seed with bin run seed indicate that high-quality seed has an approximately 3-bushel-per-acre yield advantage. Certified seed offers the best assurance of quality. When using uncertified seed, make sure that the seed has been cleaned and that germination and purity tests have been conducted.