Scientist looks for ways to improve soybean seed quality

Improving soybean seed quality is the goal of LSU AgCenter research that has been ongoing for the past three years.

In recent years, seed quality has been poor in Louisiana, said AgCenter agronomist and weed scientist Josh Copes. His research is designed to determine the cause.

“It seems that the cause is mainly due to weather conditions,” he said. “We’ve had some heavy rains during several of those harvest seasons.”

The damage occurs during the time when the beans are maturing and has been labeled mature soybean seed damage.

“We wanted to evaluate whether there is something we can do production-wise to help minimize the major losses that producers are encountering at the elevator,” he said.

In some instances, producers were turned away because their beans were unmarketable.

“In 2018, almost 200,000 acres of the 1.3 million acres of soybean planted were either not harvested or were not marketable,” Copes said.

This is stressful for growers because once the crop insurance is paid, that is all they will get for the time and money invested in the crop.

Copes looked at several factors that may be causing the damage, such as date of planting, late-season fungicide application and use of harvest aids.

“What we found is that harvest aids and fungicide had no effect on the quality of the seed,” Copes said. “Since environmental conditions are the driver of soybean seed quality, we’re looking for something we can do.”

Copes said it looks like picking the right variety is a major factor.

“Finding a variety that weathers in the field better than others might be the first line of defense,” he said. “Early-maturity Group 5s and late 5s tend to have the best quality.”

Although this is the final year for the grant funding his project, Copes will continue to look at seed quality and plans to develop a rating for the different varieties.

The next step in the research is to look at different timings of fungicide applications and continue to rate seed quality in the official soybean variety trials.

This story is featured in the Louisiana Soybean and Grain Research and Promotion Board 2020 Report.

Soybean Seed Quality Damaged soybean seeds-Copes2jpg

Damaged soybean seed following paraquat and high humidity. Photo by Josh Copes
9/16/2020 3:38:44 PM
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