Soybean Seed Quality for 2019

Poor late-season growing and harves​t conditions in 2018 impacted soybean seed quality across some geographies. This article gives you some answers and provides an overview of the topic.

What is a warm germination test?

A warm germination test (WGT) helps indicate seed viability by determining the seed’s ability to germinate under ideal growing conditions. The WGT result is required by law to be included on seed labeling and is valid for up to 6 months. The results of this test are comparable across seed providers because the testing methods are standardized through regulation and are consistent from company to company.

What is your standard warm germination test percentage?

We take a lot of pride in providing farmers with the best quality product. The standard warm germination test percentage for soybean seed is 90%. However, in years where the environment impacts seed quality, we may sell soybean seed with less than a 90% score. Every bag that is tagged below 90% goes through a review process before releasing it for sale.

How does this year’s soybean seed quality compare to last year?

Soybean seed quality has been impacted by the poor growing and harvest conditions experienced in 2018. As a result, seed producers are seeing lower germination scores in some maturity groups.

What conditions favored the production of poor soybean seed quality in 2018?

Abundant rain from the end of August through October resulted in a lot of fungal disease and delayed harvest. Many pods were infected by Diaporthe species of fungi, which can lead to stem canker, pod and stem blight, and Phomopsis seed decay. Wet fields led to harvest delays, leaving soybean seeds to rot, sprout, and shatter. The harvested crop had several seed quality issues due to disease, including discoloration and chalkiness.

Has this problem affected other soybean producers?

Yes. We are not the only seed producer that will have lower soybean seed quality in 2019

How can I best manage my affected soybean crop for 2019?

  • Store soybean seed correctly prior to planting.
  • Check the germination rate identified on the seed bag and adjust seeding rate accordingly.
  • Include fungicide seed treatments. Consider including a seed treatment that includes Phomopsis on the label. Seed treatments can help maintain the quality of the seed.
  • Give your soybean crop the best possible start; warm soils, favorable growing conditions, and a good seedbed.

How are you managing seed quality in soybeans for 2019?

Seed is produced over a wide geography to help manage environmental risks so not all soybeans will be impacted to the same degree. We also thoroughly test and review each lot of seed to help ensure a positive planting experience.

Has the industry experienced soybean seed quality issues before?

Yes. In those years we have utilized similar approaches to seed quality, which led to positive experiences and support for the best quality seed in the market.


1Smith, D. 2018. Poor soybean seed quality and preparing for the 2019 field season. University of Wisconsin-Madison.​

2Unglesbee, E. 2018. Soybeans: lower quality seed for 2019 – check your germination rates – DTN. Agfax.

3Begemann, S. 2019. 2019 soybean seed supplies tight, lower quality. Agweb.​ Web sources verified 02/06/19.   



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