Holding Back Glyphosate-tolerant Soybean Seed

Steve Sick

Sep 07, 2018

Seed costs have always been one of the highest per-acre expenses, and as traited seed has become more popular, those prices have continued to rise. But in a down commodity market, maybe it’s time to start looking at new opportunities in seed.

It’s been a while since saving seed has been a common practice for most row crop farmers—it was a prevalent practice for hundreds of years, though it has all but been eliminated with the advent of input traits. However, since the glyphosate tolerance trait has come off patent for soybeans, many farmers are curious if they could successfully hold back harvested soybean seeds to plant the following year.

Let’s cover what saving soybean seed looks like today for glyphosate tolerant soybeans.

The Process


The first step is to start with a clean planter. It’s important to know exactly what you’re putting in your fields so you can be sure what seeds you’ll be harvesting. Planting beans behind beans could lead to volunteer soybeans, which compete with your crop and may not contain the same genetics or characteristics you’re expecting. An unexpected mix of characteristics or traits could also lead to increased costs if a replant becomes necessary.

During the Season

In-season weed control is an important factor. If you’re saving seed, you don’t want to inadvertently be moving seeds from uncontrolled weeds into your field for the following year. Once your pre-emergent herbicide has run its course, use an over-the-top herbicide program to keep weeds at bay. It’s also a good idea to be prepared with a preventative fungicide treatment to ensure that disease doesn’t sneak in to your seed bean plan.


Much like with planting, a combine that is ready to run and properly calibrated is the first step in harvesting beans for seed.

Ideally, you should plan to harvest seed around the 12-13 percent moisture mark (for seed beans or commercial beans), as seed that is drier is more likely to crack, which can negatively impact seed quality, and soybean seed that is wetter (above 14 percent) could run into storage issues such as molding.

If your weed control program didn’t work quite as well as you had hoped, avoid weedier parts of the field at harvest to help ensure your overall seed quality.

Post-Harvest Handling

Proper seed handling is the most important part of harvesting beans to save for seed, as damaged seeds can have a negative impact on germination.Soybean seed is fragile and can be damaged when moving through conveyors or augers. Reducing mechanical injury can be avoided in large part by keeping equipment in good working order and treating seed delicately when moving it.

Thorough cleaning
  • Clean out the combine by using compressed air to flush out. Unloading augers are the toughest to clean.

  • Harvest approximately 100 feet and unload the grain to clean your machine.

  • Keep flushed grain in a separate wagon or truck and do not sell with your other soybeans. (It is good to keep documentation of this to show clean out of grain).

  • Find a local seed cleaner who will clean your soybeans and minimize pods and shattered seed. 

Storage and handling

And once it’s time to store your harvested seed beans:

  • Grain bins, augers, truck wagons, hoppers and pits all need to be cleaned if old grain and dust are present.

  • Use a broom to sweep sidewalls and floor to remove grain and dust.

  • Continue to maintain proper handling practices, such as running air through them while in storage.

How Much Cleaned Seed Will I Need for Next Year’s Planting?

A general rule of thumb and goal is to retain about 70 percent of your harvested soybeans for seed after cleaning. If you harvest 50 acres of soybeans, you will likely be able to retain approximately 35 or so cleaned bushels per acre for planting the following year. (You may lose around 30 percent of your harvested bushels when running seed through the cleaner.)


As input traits, like the glyphosate tolerance trait, come off patent in seed, the F2F Genetics Network is able to offer farmer the traits they are looking for, but without complex licensing. By enrolling in the program and purchasing glyphosate-tolerant soybean varieties through the F2F Genetics Network, farmers now have the opportunity and freedom to hold back a portion of their soybean harvest and plant it as seed the following season*.

Farmers can learn more about taking advantage of the Soy+1 Program, which offers genetic purity and germination testing as well as seed treatment, all to help ensure a productive next season growing glyphosate-tolerant soybeans.

*Additional terms & conditions apply and are subject to change. **Tested seed that has no detection of GM does not mean that there is no GM in the seed, it simply means that it was tested and there was no detection. 

“F2F Genetics Network”, Soy+1 and F2F are trademarks of Farmer’s Business Network, Inc. “F2F Genetics Network branded seed products and other seed products are offered by FBN Inputs, LLC and are available only in states where FBN Inputs, LLC is licensed. Sources: http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/handle_soybean_seed_carefully https://www.extension.iastate.edu/grain/files/Migrated/soybeandryingandstorage.pdf https://cropwatch.unl.edu/harvest-soybeans-13-moisture

Steve Sick

Sep 07, 2018