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Soybean – Varieties

Variety Testing Procedures

Registered soybean varieties are entered into the Alberta Regional Variety Test Program. These trials are run annually across the province and yield and agronomic data are collected. This data is then made publicly available through the Alberta Pulse Growers and the Alberta Seed Guide.

The data and descriptions include:

  • Varieties currently being tested
  • Varieties previously tested, with sufficient data, are also listed as “fully tested varieties”.
  • When pedigreed seed of the older varieties becomes unavailable in Alberta, the variety will be removed.

Choosing a Soybean Variety

Soybean growers are faced with expanding options of soybean varieties to choose from. Soybean variety selection is one of the most important factors in obtaining a high yielding crop and in reducing the risk of environmental loss of yield as a result of the growing season.

Soybean varieties may have strengths that make them more suitable for some environments and less suitable for others. Soybean maturity is one of the most important factors to consider when selecting the right variety. Additional factors to consider include yield potential as well as disease resistance.

Soybeans are grown and marketed for both human and animal consumption as a source of protein and oil. Soybeans are used for both fermented and unfermented products; as an ingredient for many meat and dairy substitutes; and a fat-free (defatted) soybean meal is a significant source of protein for animal feeds.

Variety Checklist

There are two types of soybeans, herbicide tolerant and conventional. Each has a different market and may require different levels of management. 


  • A number of site years provides the best data only if these sites represent similar growing conditions.
  • Check data from local zone, industry, and regional trials. 


  • Use a combination of growing season precipitation and soil type – data from sites with abnormal precipitation the previous year may be suspect.


  • Standability considers vine length, amount of precipitation, wind damage, variety and soil nitrogen levels – all standability ratings are lower in dry years compared to wet years, even for the same variety.
  • In general, standability in soybeans is excellent. 


  • If risk of frost is a concern, select an earlier maturing variety. Soybeans are scored based on maturity groups.
  • Soybeans are assigned to these maturity groups based on relative maturity of comparative varieties.
  • Based on the maturity group rating scale, different companies may have slightly different maturity group ratings from others for soybeans of a similar maturity.
  • It is important for growers to understand what varieties have performed well in their area, and how the maturity of those varieties compare to other varieties in the marketplace.
  • Maturity is affected by growing conditions. Maturity group values assigned to a variety represent a guide based on average conditions, providing a relative comparison for crops and varieties that are grown under similar conditions and planted at the same time.
  • If maturity is delayed into the fall, differences in maturity can be heightened, as the days are shorter and temperatures are cooler. Under warm, dry years, maturity may be shortened and under cool, wet years, longer days-to-maturity could be expected.
  • The maturity group (MG) rating system classifies soybean varieties from MG 000 in northern areas, to MG IX in southern areas of North America, based on latitude ranges and photoperiod (daylight) sensitivity.
  • Each MG region covers one or two degrees of latitude, or about 200 to 300 kilometres from north to south.
  • Each MG can have subgroupings with a 1 to 9 decimal number following the group number. These decimal places equate to slight increases in maturity.
  • In the 00 maturity ratings, a subgroup of 00.1 would be earlier maturing than 00.9. These MG ratings are assigned by the respective company based on comparison to current commercial varieties and as a result, not all MG ratings are entirely standardized between seed companies.


  • Seed size influences both seeding rate and seeding cost.
  • In some cases, larger seed varieties produce higher yield, but the cost of seed should be considered in light of any potential yield increase (market type – including seed size, shape and cotyledon colour – is also important).

Resource:  Government of Alberta’s Seeding Rate Calculator.


  • Herbicide tolerant soybean varieties are used in feedstock and generally sold to crushers.
  • Conventional type soybeans are marketed into the human food markets.