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Soybean Production

Soyabean Farming



The soybean is a bushy, free-branching annual legume. It grows 12 to 36 inches tall. Stems and leaves are hairy. Flowers are white with lavender shading. Pods grow 1 to 4 inches long in clusters of three to five. Each fuzzy pod contains 2 to 4 seeds. There are more than 10,000 soybean cultivars. Colours range from black to gray, brown, green, yellow, white, and striped. Seeds can be smaller than a pea or as large as a kidney bean.


Land Preparation

Land preparation for soybean cultivation is almost the same as required for maize in India. For Soybean cultivation, the field should be deeply ploughed in early summer to kill harmful insects and flies. Followed by spreading cow manure (natural fertilizer), to enrich the field. Soybean farming requires well drained soil with pH ranging from 6.0 to 7.5.

Farmers should consider the below points to enhance soybean productivity during the cultivation process.

  1. Use of Quality Seed:Poor quality seeds can affect crop productivity and result in yield reduction. Proper selection of quality seed plays vital role in crop production.
  2. Accurate Quantity of Seed:Farmers should have knowledge of the accurate quantity of seed while sowing. Following the recommended quantity per hectare will aid in good productivity.
  3. Correct sowing methods:Soyabean germinate through the Epigeal mode of germination, which means the seed germination process takes place above the ground. This can sometimes cause stress on the germinating seeds as they need to push through the soil to take root. This should be considered when preparing the land for sowing as hard, dry soil may be an obstacle while sowing if the root in not able to penetrate the ground properly.

It’s always important to prepare the soil before sowing any crop. Well fertilized and ploughed soil make for ideal growing conditions for soybeans, and not taking the time for these critical steps may limit the yield and quality of the crop.

Seed rate is also an important aspect. It is governed by numerous factors such as seed size, seed weight, spacing, germination of the seed. Soybean gown for grain purpose needs about 20-30 kg seed per hectare.



Climate and Soil

Temperature is the main climatic factor determining where soybeans can be grown in Ontario. Soybean varieties are rated by the amount of heat required to bring the crop to maturity according to the Ontario corn heat unit system. Figure 1 indicates the number of heat units available for growing soybeans throughout Ontario. At present there are recommended varieties that will mature in areas with 2400 heat units or more. More information on the Ontario corn heat unit system can be found in the OMAF Factsheet, Heat Units for Corn in Southern Ontario, Agdex 111 /31.

Soybeans can be produced on a broad range of well-drained soil types. Medium-textured (loam) soils are ideal for soybean production. Heavy clay soils can lead to difficulties in planting and emergence, but once emerged, soybeans are well adapted. Sandy or gravelly soils, which tend to be droughty during the growing season, are least suited to soybean production.

A pH of 6.0 or above is recommended for soybean fields. Acid soils should be limed to at least this pH to produce high yields and allow good nitrogen fixation.




A6785 is a medium-maturing variety, group 6. Originally released by Asgrow and marketed by Annand and Robinson. It has a buff hilum with moderate weathering tolerance. It is suited to soy flour and soymilk manufacturing, although the seed is smaller than this market prefers.

A6785 is resistant to the two main races of phytophthora root rot in Queensland. It is the best ´white-eyed´ type to grow where crops are more subject to weather damage around harvest. It produces high yields if sown at the correct time but tends to have slightly lower protein content.


Bunya is quick-maturity variety in most regions, group 5-6. Bred by CSIRO, Bunya was released in 2006 under PBR, and is licensed to NASIA and is produced by Austgrains, Philp Brodie Grains and CSD Grains and is well suited for southern Queensland. It is a large-seeded human-consumption type with a clear hilum. It is a preferred variety for tofu markets. Bunya is resistant to the two main races of phytophthora root rot in Queensland. The seed size of Bunya is very large, which can increase the risk of damage at harvest time. Germination checks and careful attention to seed-handling at planting is essential.


Dragon is a slow-maturing (group 7) public variety released in 1985. It is suited to soy flour, soy milk and tofu manufacture but its popularity is declining as newer culinary varieties are released. Dragon’s seed purity is questionable and it is moderately susceptible to the two main races of phytophthora root rot.


Fraser is a slow-maturing variety, group 7, released by CSIRO in 2007 under PBR, it is licensed to NASIA and is produced by Philp Brodie Grains, Bettacrop and CSD Grains. It is suitable for southern Queensland from Gladstone to the New South Wales border. Fraser is a medium-seed size and is used in soy flour and soymilk manufacturing. It may also be used in tofu markets. Fraser is resistant to the two main races of phytophthora root rot in Queensland.


Leichhardt is a slow-maturing variety, group 9, suited to northern and coastal Queensland. Its growing season is approximately 10 days longer than the Stuart variety when grown during the wet season. In southern coastal regions, plant Leichhardt later than the local shorter duration varieties to restrict vegetative growth. Leichhardt is generally not recommended as a human-consumption type but quite acceptable for crushing.


Oakey is a unique variety and suitable for the specialist natto-trade as well as other human-consumption markets. It was developed by CSD and CSIRO and operates in a closed loop marketing system. It is widely adapted from southern to central Queensland and is a tall determinant plant with a medium-slow maturity.


Stuart is a long-duration variety adapted to the tropics, group 8-9. Stuart was released by CSIRO in 2006 under PBR, it is licensed to NASIA and is produced by Bettacrop and North Queensland Tropical Seeds. It is the first, light-coloured hilum variety suited to coastal and tropical Queensland. Stuart is a slow-maturing variety and should not be planted in areas south of Mackay. It is also adapted to dry season planting in the tropics. If sown at the correct time, Stuart is slightly less vegetative than Leichhardt. In rotation with sugarcane, this variety has the advantage of higher resistance to root nematodes than other soybean varieties. It also has resistance to the current rust races causing problems in cool, wet years on the Atherton Tableland.

Soya 791

Soya 791 is a medium-maturing public variety, group 5, released by Pioneer Hi-Bred under PBR and is available through a range of resellers. It has a buff hilum, good protein content and moderate weathering tolerance. Soya 791 is suitable for the flour, soymilk and tofu markets. It is not resistant to Race 15, one of the two main races of phytophthora root rot in Queensland.

The best time to plant Soya 791 is from November to mid-December. Delays to sowing may considerably shorten the crop height, reducing vegetative growth and so limiting yield potential and harvestability.


Surf is a medium-maturity variety, group 6, released for northern New South Wales from DPI&F material reselected by NSW Agriculture at Grafton. It has a clear hilum with moderate to high weathering tolerance. It is suited to soy flour and soymilk manufacturing. Surf appears to possess either high field tolerance or resistance to both the main races of phytophthora found in Queensland.


Warringal is a slow-maturing variety, group 7, developed by DPI&F and released in 1992 under PBR. It is licensed to Pacific Seeds, and is marketed by Philp Brodie Grains. It has a clear hilum with moderate weathering tolerance. It is suited to soy flour and soymilk manufacturing although the seed is smaller than this market prefers.

Secondary Varieties

These are older varieties that are still produced by some growers who retain seed, but are largely superceded by newer varieties.


Cowrie is a medium-quick maturing, group 5, public variety released by NSW Agriculture in 2002. It is generally too quick maturing on the Darling Downs to produce a competitive grain yield. Cowrie´s colourless hilum makes it suitable for the edible markets.

It is susceptible to Phytophthora Race 15 but is resistant to Race 1. Due to its very early maturity in the Queensland production environment, sow this variety two or three weeks earlier than other varieties, no later than the first week of December in southern Queensland.


Jabiru is a slow-maturing variety, group 7, was released by DPI&F in 1998 under PBR. It is licensed to Philp Brodie Grains. It has a buff hilum and good lodging resistance. It is suitable for flour milling and crushing.

Jabiru has resistance or high tolerance to the two major races of phytophthora root rot found in Queensland.


Manark is a slow-maturing variety, group 7, developed by DPI&F. It is registered under PBR to Pacific Seeds and marketed by Philp Brodie Grains. Manark has a buff hilum and is suitable for flour milling and crushing.

Organic production varieties

Only certain varieties are suitable for the organic soymilk industry. Processors are particular about hilum colour, seed size, protein level and flavour.

Growers are advised to check with their buyer regarding variety preference.





It requires a good seedbed with a reasonable fine texture and not too many clods. Land should be well leveled and be free from crop stubble. One deep ploughing with mould board plough followed by two harrowing or two ploughing with local plough are sufficient. There should be optimum moisture in the field at the time of sowing.

Sowing of soyabean 

The sowing should be done in lines 45 to 60 cm apart with the help of seed drill or behind the plough. Plant to plant distance should be 4-5 cm. The depth of sowing should not be more than 3-4 cm under optimum moisture conditions. Seed rate of soybean depends upon germination percentage, seed size and sowing time.

Fertilizer and Nutrient Application

For obtaining good yields of soybean apply 15-20 tonnes of farm yard manure or compost per hectare. But soybean being a legume crop has the ability to supply their own nitrogen needs provided they have been inoculated and there it efficient nodulation in the plant. An application of 20-30 kg nitrogen per hectare as a starter dose will be sufficient to meet the nitrogen requirement of the crop in the initial stage in low fertility soils having poor organic matter. Soybean requires relatively large amounts of phosphorus than other crops. The soil should be tested for the availability status of phosphorus to meet the requirement of the crop. With the application of phosphorus, the number and density of nodules are stimulated and the bacteria become more mobile. Soybean also requires a relatively large amount of potassium than other crops. The rate of potassium uptake climbs to a peak during the period of rapid vegetative growth then slows down about the time the bean begins to form. Soil test is the best guide for the application of potash in the soil. In the absence of soil test, 50-60 kg K2O per hectare should be applied. The fertilizers should preferably be placed, at sowing time, about 5-7 cm away from the seed at a depth of 5-7 cm from seed level.

Water Management in soya crop

The soybean crop generally does not require any irrigation during Kharif season. However, if there were a long spell of drought at the time of pod filling, one irrigation would be desirable. During excessive rains proper drainage is also equally important. Spring crop would require about five to six irrigation.


Management Practices

Crop Rotation

Crop rotation is important in all crops to break disease and insect cycles and increase yield, and soybean is no exception. Diseases such as soybean cyst nematode, white mold, brown stem rot and sudden death syndrome survive in the soil or in crop residue, and readily attack a successive soybean crop. Most soybean diseases survive more than one or two years in the soil, so rotation does not eliminate the problem. But time away from soybeans diminishes the amount of disease inoculum available to infect the next crop, and thereby lessens its severity. For this reason, two or more years away from soybeans is preferable to just one, in terms of disease impact on the crop.

Rotation studies in Minnesota and Wisconsin showed that soybeans in a corn/soybean rotation yielded 8% more than continuous soybeans. These studies were conducted in good growing environments where moisture was not severely limiting. Soybeans following five years of continuous corn yielded 15 to 17% more than continuous soybeans.

Other Practices for Increasing Soybean Yields


Tillage has long been used to bury crop residue, prepare a seedbed and control weeds. Current planting equipment and herbicides now allow growers to achieve excellent soybean stand establishment and weed control with little or no tillage. No-till or reduced till practices can help minimize soil loss and increase organic matter levels that contribute to long-term productivity. Research studies have demonstrated that soybeans yields are similar across conventional till, minimum till and no-till. For this reason, growers can choose a tillage system that makes sense economically, environmentally and logistically, and focus on optimizing other management practices within that tillage system.

Weed Control

In this age of soybean varieties with the Roundup Ready® trait, the issue of timely weed control and its effect on soybean yield is often ignored. But if weeds compete with soybeans for moisture, light and nutrients during the critical development period from the second trifoliate stage to beginning flowering, yield may be reduced, even if weeds are ultimately controlled.

To prevent weed-induced yield losses, growers should control weeds in a timely manner. In some instances, where well-timed applications of Roundup® branded herbicides may be jeopardized by workload demands or weather and field conditions, use of a pre-emergence herbicide may be justified. In other cases, two applications of Roundup may be required for timely weed control.

In some soybean fields, rank growth of winter or spring annual weeds can pose challenges at planting time and beyond. This dense weed growth often slows soil drying and warming in the spring and affects seedbed quality and crop establishment, including timely planting. Competition may also be a problem, as some of these weeds persist well into summer. A fall application program which includes a residual herbicide such as Canopy® XL is an excellent way to control emerged winter annuals and provide residual control of later-germinating winter and spring annuals.


Pest and Disease Management

It is important to note that soybeans are very tolerant of insect damage at many stages of crop development, and that noticeable damage (particularly leaf damage) does not necessarily translate to yield loss.

Soybeans can tolerate up to 33% leaf loss (providing terminal and auxiliary buds are not attacked) without yield loss but their ability to compensate for pest damage decreases as pods develop. Soybeans set a large number of reserve pods and can compensate for insect damage during early podding by diverting energy to fill these reserve pods. If developing seeds are damaged the plant diverts more energy to undamaged seeds, making these bigger and heavier.

Seeds damaged by pod-sucking bugs during early pod-fill are often lost at harvest, or are graded out post-harvest, as they are lighter than undamaged seeds. Seeds damaged from mid pod-fill onwards are similar in weight to undamaged seeds, not lost at harvest or able to be graded out without resorting to colour sorters.

Crops remain susceptible to late bug damage until the pods harden just prior to harvest. As a result, late bug damage is a major factor affecting seed quality. As a rule of thumb, only 2% seed damage is tolerable for soybeans targeting the culinary market.


Major Pests of Soybeans


Helicoverpa armigera, Helicoverpa punctigera

Helicoverpa can severely damage all crop stages and all plant parts of soybeans. Of the summer legumes, soybeans are the most attractive to helicoverpa during the vegetative stage and can even be damaged during the seedling stage. In sub-coastal and inland southern Queensland, summer legumes are at greatest risk from H. armigera from mid-December onwards. However, spring H. armigera outbreaks are more likely in coastal regions.


Helicoverpa larvae can be confused with loopers, armyworms or cluster caterpillars. Refer to the A-Z pest list for identification of pests.


Helicoverpa spp. defoliation is characterised by rounded chew marks and holes (loopers make more angular holes).

Helicoverpa will also attack auxiliary buds and terminals in vegetative crops. High populations in seedling or drought-stressed crops can cause considerable damage if vegetative terminals and stems are eaten. This type of damage results in pods being set closer to the ground. Such pods are more difficult to harvest.

In drought-stressed crops, the last soft green tissue is usually the vegetative terminals, which are thus more likely to be totally consumed than in normally growing crops.

Once crops reach flowering, larvae focus on buds, flowers and pods. Young larvae are more likely to feed on vegetative terminals, young leaves and flowers before attacking pods.

Small pods may be totally consumed by helicoverpa, but larvae target the seeds in large pods.

Crops are better able to compensate for early rather than late pod damage, however in dry land crops, where water is limited, significant early damage may delay or stagger podding with subsequent yield and quality losses.

Damage to well-developed pods results in the weather staining of uneaten seeds due to water entering the pods.


Beat sheet sampling is the preferred sampling method for medium to large helicoverpa larvae. Small larvae should be scouted for by opening vegetative terminals and flowers.

Inspect crops weekly during the vegetative stage – damage to vegetative terminals is often the first visual clue that helicoverpa larvae are present.

Soybeans should be scouted for eggs and moths to pinpoint the start of infestations and increase the chance of successful control.

Inspect twice weekly from early budding until late podding.

Sample six widely spaced locations per field. Take five one-metre samples at each site with a standard beat sheet. Convert larval counts/m to larvae/m2 by dividing counts by the row spacing in metres.

Beat sheet sampling may only detect 50% of small larvae in vegetative and podding soybeans, and 70% during flowering, as they feed in sheltered sites such as leaf terminals. Many of these small larvae will be lost to natural mortality factors before they reach a damaging size and in most crops, and this mortality will cancel out any sampling inefficiencies.


In vegetative crops, thresholds for many leaf feeding pests are expressed as % tolerable defoliation or % tolerable terminal loss. Before flowering, soybeans can tolerate up to 33% leaf loss without loss of yield. However recent data shows that helicoverpa populations inflicting less than 33% damage can cause serious yield loss, because the larvae not only feed on leaves, but also attack terminals and auxiliary buds. The data indicates an economic threshold of approximately 7.5 helicoverpa larvae per square metre (7.5/m2) in vegetative soybeans.

Helicoverpa thresholds for podding soybeans currently range from 1-2 larvae/m2 (depending on crop value and pesticide cost).


Table 1: Economic threshold chart for Helicoverpa spp. in podding soybeans, based on a measured yield loss of 40 kg/ha for every larva per square metre (Rogers unpublished data). Cross-reference the cost of control versus the crop value to determine the economic threshold (ET) (e.g. if the cost of control = $40/ha and the crop value =$700/t, the ET = 1.4 larvae/m2.) Spray only if the helicoverpa population exceeds the threshold.
Cost of control # = Value of damage ($/ha) Thresholds # (larvae/m2) for conventional pesticides at soybean crop values listed below ($/ha)
$450 $500 $550 $600 $650 $700 $750 $800


Chemical control

Prior to flowering, biopesticides, particularly Helicoverpa nucleopolyhedrovirus (NPV), are recommended in preference to chemical insecticides. This helps conserve beneficial insects to buffer crops against helicoverpa attack during the susceptible reproductive stages, and avoids flaring of other pests such as silverleaf whitefly and mites.

For best results, all ingestion type products require thorough plant coverage. For biopesticides, addition of Amino Feed® or an equivalent product is recommended.

For chemical control and current registrations refer to How to find the right insecticide .

Cultural control

Where possible, avoid successive plantings of summer legumes.

Good agronomy and soil moisture are crucial as large, vigorously-growing plants suffer less defoliation for a given helicoverpa population and have less risk of terminal damage.

In water-stressed crops, terminals are more attractive to larvae than wilted leaves. Vigorously growing plants with adequate available moisture are better able to replace damaged leaves and compensate for flower and pod damage.

Natural enemies

The number of natural enemies or beneficials varies with crop age, from crop to crop, region to region, and from season to season. The combined action of a number of beneficial species is often required to have a significant impact on potentially damaging helicoverpa populations. It is therefore desirable to conserve as many beneficials as possible.

Natural enemies of soybean pests include predators of eggs, larvae and pupae, parasites of eggs and larvae and caterpillar diseases.

Predatory bugs and beetles that attack helicoverpa eggs and larvae include:

Spined predatory shield bug

Glossy shield bug

Damsel bug

Bigeyed bug

Apple dimpling bug

Assassin bug

Red and blue beetle

Predatory ladybird beetles

Other important predators include ants, spiders and lacewings .

Parasites include:

Trichogramma spp. – tiny egg parasite wasps

Microplitis and Netelia (wasps) – caterpillar parasites

Species of tachinid flies – caterpillar parasites.

With the exception of the egg parasites and Microplitis, most parasites do not kill helicoverpa until they reach the pupal stage. Predatory earwigs and wireworm larvae are significant predators of helicoverpa pupae.

Naturally occurring caterpillar diseases frequently have a marked impact on helicoverpa in summer legumes. Outbreaks of NPV (Nucleopolyhedrovirus) are frequently observed in crops with high helicoverpa populations.

Pod-sucking bugs

Pod-sucking bugs can move in at budding but significant damage is confined to pods. While pod-sucking bugs start breeding as soon as they move into flowering crops, nymphs must feed on pods to complete their development. Pod-sucking bugs cause shrivelled and distorted seed, and can severely reduce yield and seed quality. Pod-sucking bugs can even damage seeds in pods that are nearing harvest maturity. Late bug damage reduces seed quality but not yield. As only 2% seed damage is tolerable in culinary soybeans, bug thresholds are based on seed quality, not yield.

A number of pod-sucking bugs can attack soybeans and include:

Green vegetable bug

Redbanded shield bug

Large brown bean bug

Small brown bean bug.

The green vegetable bug (GVB) and the brown bean bugs are equally damaging to crops, while the damage potentials of the redbanded and brown shield bugs are 0.75 and 0.2 of that of a GVB respectively. Nymphs of all species are less damaging than adults. While first instar nymphs cause no damage, subsequent instars are progressively more damaging with the fifth and final instar being nearly as damaging as adults. To determine the damage potential of mixed bug species populations, convert all species (adults and nymphs) to GVB adult equivalents (GVBAEQ) .


Green vegetable bug (GVB) (Nezara viridula)

Pest status: This species is the most damaging pod-sucking bug in soybeans due to its abundance, widespread distribution, rate of damage and rate of reproduction. Very high populations are frequently encountered in coastal Queensland.

Risk period

Adult bugs typically invade summer legumes at flowering, but GVB is primarily a pod feeder with a preference for pods with well-developed seeds.

Nymphs are unable to complete their development prior to pod-fill.

Soybeans remain at risk until pods are too hard to damage (i.e. very close to harvest).

Damaging populations are typically highest in late summer crops during late pod-fill (when nymphs have reached or are near adulthood).


Pods containing well-developed seeds are most at risk.

While GVB also damages buds and flowers, soybeans can compensate for this early damage.

Damage to young pods cause deformed and shrivelled seeds and reduce yield.

Seeds damaged in older pods are blemished and difficult to grade out, reducing harvested seed quality, particularly that destined for human consumption (edibles).

GVB can even damage seeds in ´close-to-harvest´ pods (i.e. pods that have hardened prior to harvest). Bug damaged seeds have increased protein content but a shorter storage life (due to increased rancidity). Bug damage also reduces seed oil content. Bug damaged seeds are frequently discoloured, either directly as a result of tissue breakdown, or because of diseases such as Cercospora (purple seed stain), which may gain entry where pods are pierced by bugs.

Sampling and monitoring

Crops should be inspected for GVB twice weekly from flowering until close to harvest.

Sample for GVB in early to mid-morning.

Beat sheet sampling is the most efficient monitoring method.

The standard sample unit consists of five one-metre non consecutive lengths of row within a 20 m radius.

Convert all bug counts per row metre to bugs/m2 by dividing counts per row metre by the row spacing in metres.

At least six sites should be sampled throughout a crop to accurately determine adult GVB populations.

GVB nymphs are more difficult to sample accurately as their distribution is extremely clumped, particularly during the early nymphal stages (1-3).

Ideally, at least 10 sites (with five non-consecutive row metres sampled per site) should be sampled to adequately assess nymphal populations.


Pod-sucking bug thresholds in edible or culinary soybeans (destined for human consumption) are determined by seed quality, the maximum bug damage permitted being only 2%. GVB thresholds typically range from 0.3-0.8/m2 depending on the crop size (seeds per m2) and when bugs first infest a crop. Because thresholds are determined by % damage, the larger a crop (the more seeds per unit area), the more bugs required to inflict critical (threshold) damage, and the higher the threshold. See table 2.

Table 2: Pod-sucking bug thresholds
Days to harvest maturity Crop size (seeds/m)
500 1000 1500 2000 2500 3000 3500 4000 4500 5000

For crushing and stockfeed soybeans with lesser quality requirements, the threshold is doubled

Chemical control

Bugs should be controlled during early pod-fill before nymphs reach a damaging size.

Pesticides are best applied in the early to mid-morning to contact bugs basking at the top of the canopy.

For chemical control and current registrations refer to How to find the right insecticide .

Cultural control

Avoid sequential plantings of summer legumes as bug populations will move progressively from earlier to later plantings, eventually building to very high levels.

Avoid cultivar and planting time combinations that are more likely to lengthen the duration of flowering and podding.

Natural enemies

GVB eggs are frequently parasitised by a tiny introduced wasp Trissolcus basalis . Parasitised eggs are easily recognised as they turn black.

GVB nymphs are attacked by ants, spiders and predatory bugs.

Final (fifth) instar and adult GVB are parasitised by the recently introduced tachinid fly (Trichopoda giacomellii) .


Redbanded shield bug

The Redbanded shield bug (RBSB) (Piezodorus oceanicus) was previously classified as Piezodorus hybneri and more recently as P. grossi.

Pest status

Major, widespread, regular. RBSB is 75% as damaging as GVB in summer pulses but is usually not as abundant. However, it is more difficult to control with current pesticides. Adults are similar in shape to GVB but are smaller and paler, with pink, white or yellow bands.


Damage is similar to that caused by GVB, with early damage reducing yields, and later damage reducing the quality of harvested seeds.


Convert to GVB equivalents to determine damage potential.


As for GVB. Beat sheeting is the preferred sampling method. Look for the distinctive twin-row egg rafts which indicate the presence of RBSB.

Chemical control

No insecticides are specifically registered against RBSB in Australia.

Recent trials suggest pesticides currently registered against GVB are ineffective against RBSB.

Control can be improved, albeit to only 50-60%, with the addition of a 0.5% salt (NaCl) adjuvant.

Natural enemies

Spiders, ants, and predatory bugs are major predators of RBSB, particularly of eggs and young nymphs with mortality of these stages sometimes exceeding 90%.

Eggs may be parasitised by the tiny wasp, Trissolcus basalis.

Adults are infrequently parasitised by the recently introduced tachinid fly.


Brown Bean Bugs

Large brown bean bug (Riptortus serripes)

Small brown bean bug (Melanacanthus scutellaris)

Pest status

As damaging as GVB. More frequent on the coast.

Host range and risk period

As for GVB.


Both large and small brown bean bugs are as damaging as GVB. Damage is similar to that caused by GVB, with early damage reducing yield, while later damage reduces the quality of harvested seed.


Sample crops early in the morning.

The beat sheet method is not totally satisfactory as both brown bean bugs are very flighty, particularly during the hotter parts of the day.

Crop scouts should familiarise themselves with the appearance of flying brown bean bug adults and include these in sampling counts.


Silverleaf Whitefly

Silverleaf whitefly (SLW) (Bemisia tabaci biotype B) poses a threat to soybeans in tropical and subtropical coastal regions. However, the recently released SLW parasite Eretmocerus hayati, together with native parasites and predators, can reasonably be expected to stabilise SLW populations, provided they are not disrupted by the overuse of non-selective pesticides.

Pest status and host range

Major risk in susceptible crops. Of the summer pulses, soybeans and navy beans are preferred SLW hosts. Significant populations of SLW adults are frequently seen in mungbeans but nymphal development on this crop is very poor.

Risk period

Summer pulses maturing during late summer and autumn are at greater risk of attack because invading SLW have had more time to increase from low over-wintering populations. As a rule, the earlier crops are infested, the greater the risk. Crops remain attractive to SLW until mid pod-fill. As the crop matures, leaves become unattractive to SLW and adults leave the crop to find more attractive hosts.


SLW can reduce plant vigour and yield by the sheer weight of numbers removing large amounts of plant photosynthate from the leaves.

Severe infestations in young plants can stunt plant growth and greatly reduce a crop´s yield potential.

Later infestations can reduce the number of pods set, seed size, and seed size uniformity, thus reducing yield and quality. As a rule, the impact of SLW is worst in drought stressed crops.

In heavily infested soybeans, both pods and seeds are often unusually pale. While seed colour is unlikely to be of concern in grain soybeans (harvested seeds being naturally pale), pod and seed discolouration are a major marketing problem where pods are picked green (e.g. vegetable soybeans and green beans).

SLW can also secrete large amounts of sticky honeydew. Adult females produce more honeydew than other stages and nymphs produce more honeydew when feeding on stressed plants. Honeydew is not a major problem, but the sooty mould which develops on honeydew shields leaves from sunlight and reduces photosynthesis.

The impact of sooty mould is greatest during early to mid pod-fill when SLW activity is greatest at the top of the canopy, i.e. on the leaves with the greatest photosynthetic activity. Rain and overhead irrigation wash honeydew off leaves, lessening the risk of sooty mould.


SLW eggs, nymphs and resting adults are mainly found on the underside of leaves.

Flying SLW adults are readily observed when crops with high populations are disturbed.

The presence of honeydew and sooty mould may also indicate SLW attack, but can be due to aphid feeding.

SLW eggs are laid on younger leaves, so by the time eggs develop to large nymphs in crops with high growth rates, leaves with the greatest visible SLW nymphal activity are further down the plant. This may be as many as 5-7 nodes below the plant top. As vegetative growth slows, however, plant nodes with greatest nymphal activity move progressively upwards to the canopy top.

Thresholds and chemical control

There are no validated thresholds for SLW and no pesticides are specifically registered for SLW control in summer pulses in Australia. Use the softest options possible for other pests early in the life of the crop, to encourage SLW parasites and predators.

Cultural control

Where possible, avoid successive plantings of summer pulses to prevent movement from early to late crops.

Avoid planting summer pulses in close proximity to earlier maturing SLW hosts such as cotton and cucurbits.

Where damaging SLW populations are evident in other crops early in the season (early summer), or in regions with a history of consistently damaging widespread SLW activity, consider planting a pulse type less attractive to SLW (e.g. mungbeans or adzukis) (Vigna sp.), rather than soybeans.

Control SLW weed hosts such as rattlepod and milk thistle.

Irrigate crops to reduce moisture stress which makes crops more susceptible to SLW damage. Overhead irrigation also washes off sooty mould and drowns adult SLW.

Narrow leafed and smooth leafed (less hairy) cultivars may be less attractive to SLW. However, the latter attribute may leave crops more vulnerable to aphid attack.

Natural enemies

SLW nymphs are parasitised by native species of Encarsia and Eretmocerus (both very small wasps). In 2005 CSIRO released the exotic parasite Eretmocerus hayati in the Bundaberg and Childers region. It has successfully established and spread up to 20 km from the original release sites, with high levels of parasitism reported. The parasite has now also been released in other areas of Queensland and in conjunction with native SLW parasites, will hopefully help stabilise SLW populations.


Minor pests

Brown shield bug

Dictyotus caenosus

Pest status and damage

Minor pest in Australia.

The BSB damages only 20% as many seeds as the GVB (i.e. BSB = 0.2 GVB).

Monitoring and control

Beat sheeting is the preferred sampling method.

Sample crops early to mid-morning when bugs are likely to be at the top of the crop.

Look for the distinctive egg rafts (small twin rows or small irregular rafts containing 10-16 eggs), which indicate the presence of BSB.

No insecticides are specifically registered against BSB in Australia. BSB are likely to be controlled by pesticides targeting VB.

When possible avoid sequential plantings of summer legumes.



Cluster caterpillar Spodoptera litura, often referred to as ‘spods’

Pest status and damage

As damaging as helicoverpa but less frequent.

Can cause significant damage to coastal soybeans in Queensland during flowering and podding.

Small larvae window leaves, but older larvae chew holes in leaves.

Older larvae may also attack flowers and pods.

Monitoring and control

As for helicoverpa.

Look also for egg masses and clusters of young larvae.

In pre-flowering crops, control is warranted if defoliation exceeds (or is likely to exceed) 33%. (See helicoverpa).

Tolerable defoliation drops to 15-20% once flowering and podding commences.

Cluster caterpillars are not controlled by NPV and are difficult to control with Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) unless very small.

Natural enemies

As for helicoverpa and loopers.


Bean podborer (Maruca vitrata)

Pest status and damage

Not usually a pest in soybeans, but tunnelling has been reported in soybean stems in coastal regions such as Bundaberg.

Monitoring and control

Look for tunnelling and associated larval frass in soybean stems

No thresholds are set as this pest is not regarded as a problem in soybeans.

Report any unusual heavy podborer infestations in soybeans to The Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation’s Entomology (Field Crops) team.


Etiella (lucerne seed web moth) Etiella behrii

Risk period and damage

Spasmodic but important pest of specialist soybeans in drier regions (e.g. natto soybeans on the Darling Downs) due to near zero damage tolerance.

Crops may be infested from flowering onwards, but are at greatest risk during late podding.

Because etiella larvae consume far less than larger caterpillar species such as Helicoverpa, seeds are usually only partially eaten out, often with characteristic pin-hole damage.

This damage is difficult to grade out and its unattractive appearance reduces seed quality.

Monitoring and control

Techniques are being developed to monitor moth activity with light traps or lures, as the moth is this pests´ most vulnerable stage. No pesticides are currently registered.



Green loopersSoybean looper (Thysanoplusia orichalcea), Tobacco looper (Chrysodeixis argentifera), Vegetable looper (Chrysodeixis eriosoma).

Brown loopers – Bean looper or Mocis (Mocis alterna), Sugarcane looper (Mocis frugalaris), Mocis trifasciata and Pantydia spp.

The following applies equally to green and brown loopers:

Risk period and damage

Crops can be attacked at any stage but are greatest risk during flowering and podding.

Summer legumes such as soybeans are least tolerant of defoliation at these stages.

Loopers do not attack the flowers and small pods of soybeans.

Looper leaf damage is different to helicoverpa damage, with the feeding holes being more angular rather than rounded.

Monitoring and control

Use a beat sheet .

Inspect crops weekly during the vegetative stage and twice weekly from very early budding onwards until crops are no longer susceptible to attack.

In pre-flowering crops, looper control is warranted if defoliation exceeds (or is likely to exceed) 33%. Tolerable defoliation drops to 15-20% once flowering and podding commences.

Loopers are not controlled by products containing Helicoverpa NPV.

Small loopers (under 12 mm) can be controlled with Bt.

For chemical control options refer to How to find the right insecticide .

Natural enemies

Loopers are frequently parasitised by braconids (Apantales sp.) with scores of parasite larva developing per looper host.

Predatory bugs , tachinid flies and ichneumonid wasps also attack loopers.

The use of Bt will help preserve beneficial insects.

Outbreaks of looper NPV are frequently observed in crops with high looper populations. However, larvae are usually not killed by virus until they are medium-large (instars 4-5). Looper NPV is not the same as helicoverpa NPV.


Soybean moth

Soybean moth (Aproaerema simplexella) is common in soybeans but is usually only present in low numbers with only the occasional leaf slightly webbed and folded to provide a shelter for larvae. However, they can occur in very high numbers and on rare occasions can destroy crops by denuding all the leaves.

Damage and control

Larvae initially feed inside leaves (i.e. mine leaves) for about four days, and then emerge to feed externally, folding and webbing leaves together.

The most obvious symptom of damage is the webbing and folding together of leaves. The larvae normally only cause cosmetic damage.

Infestations are favoured by hot, dry weather, with crops under severe moisture stress most at risk.

Scout crops regularly for the early warning signs of rare plague events – numerous small, pale patches (leaf-mining) on the leaves and large numbers of soybean moths around lights at night.

Indicative threshold is based on defoliation (i.e. 33% pre-flowering and 15-20% during early pod-fill).

Control will rarely be required and no specific registrations exist for soybean moth.


Legume leafspinner

The Legume webspinner is also known as the bean leafroller (Omiodes diemenalis).

Risk period and damage

Widespread in coastal regions but rarely at damaging levels.

Crops are usually at greatest risk during early podding.

Larvae are leaf feeders, webbing leaves together.

Silken webs and frass are indicative of webspinner attack, but other leaf webbers cause similar symptoms.

Monitoring and control

Larvae will be sometimes detected when beat sheet sampling.

Inspect webbed leaves and look for the characteristic frass.

The threshold is based on tolerable defoliation, i.e. 33% pre flowering and 15-20% during early pod-fill.

Control is rarely required.


Red-shouldered leaf beetle

The Red-shouldered leaf beetle is also known as Monolepta (Monolepta australis).

Risk period and damage

Common in sugar cane areas. Can arrive suddenly in large numbers, inflicting rapid defoliation and flower loss.

Soybeans are at greatest risk during flowering.

Infestations are most likely after heavy rainfall events.

Monolepta attack leaves and flowers, high populations (e.g. more than 50/m2) will shred leaves and denude crops of flowers.

Monitoring and control

Monolepta are readily assessed visually or with a beat sheet but can be difficult to count as they are extremely flighty. Estimate the number of groups of 5 or 10 beetles on the sheet to get a ´ball park´ population estimate.

Check crops after heavy rainfall that may trigger the mass emergence of adults.

Thresholds are not yet established but populations greater than 20/m2 can cause significant damage in flowering crops.

Defoliation thresholds are the same as for leaf feeding caterpillars.

Plant legume crops away from larval hosts of Monolepta such as sugar cane.

Spot treatment of borders may be sufficient.

Consult How to find the right insecticide for control options.


Lucerne Crownborer

Lucerne crownborer (Zygrita diva)

Risk factors and damage

Soybean crops in the tropics, or growing in abnormally ´hot´ summers, or in close proximity to lucerne are at greatest risk.

Proximity to lucerne increases the risk of early infestation.

Larval feeding has little impact on yield but prior to pupating, plants are internally ringbarked or girdled above the pupal chamber causing plant death above the girdle and plants in thin stands may lodge before harvest.

In southern Queensland, this usually occurs after seeds are fully developed with no yield loss. In tropical regions, larval development is more rapid and there can be considerable crop losses.

Crownborers are very damaging to ´edamame´ soybeans where green immature pods are harvested by mechanical pod pluckers. The stems of infested plants are weakened and snap off, contaminating the harvested product.

Monitoring and control

Break open stems to look for larvae and eaten out and brown discoloured pith.

There are no effective chemical controls as larvae in the stems are protected from insecticide.

Avoid planting susceptible crops close to lucerne.

If in an at-risk region, consider later plantings to shorten crop development.

In the tropics, consider winter plantings.

Avoid thin plant stands to reduce the lodging of damaged plants.

Currently there are no pesticides registered for lucerne crownborer in soybeans. Trying to control the only vulnerable stage, i.e. the adults in early vegetative crops, would greatly increase the risk of silverleaf whitefly attack.


Soybean aphids

Soybean aphid (Aphis glycine)


Not a major threat to soybeans but populations should be monitored. In the unusually cool summer of 2007-08 severe aphid outbreaks occurred in the Bundaberg region.

More prevalent on the coast than inland.

Cast off (white) aphid skins are evidence of past infestations.

Heavily infested plants may be covered in sooty mould growing on honeydew secreted by the aphids.

Heavy infestations can reduce yield significantly and delay harvest maturity.

Infested plants can have distorted leaves.

Crops become less attractive to aphids after early podding.

The adult, winged-form of the aphid is able to travel long distances on prevailing wind currents.

Monitoring and control

Look for aphid colonies on the upper stems, leaflets and terminal leaves.

In heavily infested crops, cast off aphid skins, sooty mould, and large ladybird populations are indicative of soybean aphids. The latter two can also indicate significant whitefly activity.

Chemical control is rarely required due to the significant impact of natural enemies, especially ladybird beetles and hoverfly larvae.

Soybean aphids can be controlled with systemic pesticides but no products are specifically registered for this pest in soybeans.

In the United States, the soybean aphid threshold is set at 250 aphids per plant from budding to podding. As a rule of thumb, once soybean aphids are present on the main stem, populations are in excess of 400 aphids per plant.


Two-spotted or red spider mite (Tetranychus sp.)


Can cause severe damage, particularly during hot, dry weather.

Mite outbreaks are often the result of using ´hard´ pesticides to treat other pests, where the killing of their natural enemies flares mite numbers.

Heavy infestations at pod-fill lead to leaf drop and early senescence.

Seed size and yield may be reduced by as much as 30% in severe cases.

Mites first occur on the lower leaves and gradually move to the top of the plant as the population builds up.

They make fine webbing on the underside of the leaves, and feed by a rasping and sucking action.

Infested leaves take on a speckled appearance.

In severe cases the leaves turn a yellow-brown before they wither and drop from the plant.

Consult How to find the right insecticide for control options.



Green Mirid (Creontiades dilutus) and Brown Mirid (Creontiades pacificus)

Risk period and damage

Budding, flowering and early-podding crops are at greatest risk while no damage has been observed in more advanced pods (Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries trials – now part of the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation).

Low populations (less than 1 per m2) of green mirids are often present in vegetative crops but there is no evidence they cause ´tipping´ of vegetative terminals or yield loss.

Mirids attack buds, flowers and small pods.

Soybeans are less susceptible to mirids compared to other pulses due to the synchrony of flowering and because they produce up to four times as many flowers as are necessary to set enough pods to produce a high yield (4 t/ha or more).

Trials have shown no yield loss in crops with up to 5 mirids/m2.


Mirids are very mobile pests and in-crop populations can increase very rapidly.

Crops should be inspected twice weekly from budding onwards until post flowering.

In row crops, the preferred method is beat sheeting, as this method is the most effective for helicoverpa and pod-sucking bugs.

Sample five one-metre lengths of row (not consecutive) within a 20 m radius, from at least six sites throughout a crop.

Avoid sampling during very windy weather as mirids are easily blown off the sheet.

Thresholds for soybeans are 3-4 mirids/m2.


Shortening a crop´s flowering period reduces the risk of mirid damage.

Flowering periods can be shortened by planting on a full moisture profile and by watering crops just before budding.

Consider planting crops in at least 50 cm rows (as opposed to broadcast planting) to facilitate easier pest sampling.

Spraying for mirids is unwarranted in most crops unless populations are in excess of 5/m2. Unnecessary spraying for mirids in soybeans increases the risk of flaring silverleaf whitefly.

Trials have shown that the addition of salt (0.5% NaCl) as an adjuvant can improve chemical control of mirids at lower chemical rates. Reducing pesticide rates (typically by 50-60%) reduces their impact on beneficials and reduces the risk of flaring helicoverpa.

Consult How to find the right insecticide for control options.

Natural enemies

Spiders , ants, predatory bugs and predatory wasps have been observed attacking mirids in the field. Naturally occurring fungi (e.g. Beauvaria ) may also infect and kill mirids, but are rarely observed in the field.


Harvesting and Postharvest Handling


The maturity period for soyabean crops ranges from 90 to 145 days (depending on the variety). When the plants reach maturity, their leaves turn yellow and the pods drop from the stem of the plant.  Soyabean pods dry out quickly and will turn colour – brown or black. This occurs because there is a rapid loss of moisture from the seed. At harvest, the moisture content of the seeds should be about 17%. Harvesting can be done by hand, which is typically done by breaking the stalks on the ground with a sickle.



Threshing can be done either with a mechanical soyabean thresher or some other conventional method. Threshing should be done carefully, as any kind of severe beating or trampling may damage the seed coat, thus reducing the viability of the crop and the quality of the harvest. Moisture content should be about 13% to 14% when harvesting with a thresher.



After harvest, seeds need to be stored and kept for the next planting season. Seed moisture determines the length of seed storage life. If the crop is harvested when there is high moisture content, the longevity of the seed is reduced dramatically. For example, seeds with high moisture can be more susceptible to fungus or other storage pests. Hence, reducing seed moisture is the first step for longer seed life.

Ideal moisture storage rates:



Preparation and Dehulling

The first step in processing soybeans is to properly prepare the soybean for dehulling. This step typically involves using magnets to remove metal and screening to remove impurities that can interfere with the dehulling process. Next, hulls are moved to both increase the protein content of the final meal product and also to improve the efficiency of the solvent extraction process. Finally, mechanical rollers are used to make thin flakes and rupture the cells containing the soybean oil.



The extraction process uses hexane or other solvents to wash the soybean oil from the prepared soybean flakes. The design of the equipment varies so that Crown can optimize the amount of solvent and bed depth needed to efficiently wash the flakes, the contact time of the solvent and flakes, and the power and utilities needed to run the equipment. Soybeans are processed with the Model III Extractor.



Once the oil has been removed by the solvent, the solvent must be removed from both the flakes and the soybean oil. For the flakes, heat and steam are used to strip and recover the residual solvent. For the soybean oil, a distillation system is used to recover the solvent. The desolventized flakes are now a product and ready for sale as a good source of protein. The soybean oil can be further refined from a crude product to an edible product.

Oil Refining and Processing

Extracted and desolventized soy oil must be further processed to make an edible product. Edible oils are refined to improve the flavor, odor, color and stability using processes that degum, neutralize, bleach and deodorize the oil. These refining processes remove contaminants such as phosphatides, free fatty acids and pro-oxidants.

Further processing of oils and fats is sometimes desired. Some oils are winterized or dewaxed and some are modified to change melting characteristics. Byproducts may be further processed to create value-added products or reduce costs.



Biodiesel is a renewable fuel derived from fats and oils. Although any source of fat can be used, partially refined soybean oil plays a major part in this industry.


There are a significant number of oleochemicals made from the byproducts of soybean oil processing. Whether it’s glycerin from a biodiesel plant or fatty acids from a fat hydrolysis plant, Crown offers many different processes to add value to these fat byproducts.



Soya Beans Exports by Country

Soya beans sprouts

Soya beans sprouts

Global sales from soya beans exports by country amounted to US$52.2 billion in 2016.

Overall, the value of soya beans exports were down by an average -2.1% for all exporting countries since 2012 when soya beans shipments were valued at $53.3 billion. Year over year, the value of global soya beans exports increased by 2.3% from 2015 to 2016.
Among continents, Latin America excluding Mexico plus the Caribbean accounted for the highest dollar worth of exported soya beans during 2016 with shipments valued at $25.3 billion or 48.4% of globally exported soya beans. In second place were North American exporters at 47.5%.

Smaller percentages of worldwide soya beans exports originated from Europe (3.3%), Asia (0.7%) and Africa (0.1%).


The 4-digit Harmonized Tariff System code prefix for soya beans is 1201.

Soya Beans Exports by Country

Below are the 15 countries that exported the highest dollar value worth of soya beans during 2016:

United States: US$22.9 billion (43.9% of total soya beans exports)

Brazil: $19.3 billion (37%)

Argentina: $3.2 billion (6.2%)

Canada: $1.9 billion (3.6%)

Paraguay: $1.8 billion (3.5%)

Uruguay: $857.2 million (1.6%)

Ukraine: $690.4 million (1.3%)

Netherlands: $393.2 million (0.8%)

Russia: $133.2 million (0.3%)

Turkey: $109.5 million (0.21%)

China: $108.5 million (0.21%)

India: $97.6 million (0.19%)

Belgium: $70.2 million (0.13%)

Croatia: $63.6 million (0.12%)

Serbia: $52.2 million (0.1%)

The listed 15 countries shipped 99.2% of global soya beans exports in 2016 by value.

Among the above countries, the fastest-growing soya beans exporters since 2012 were: Turkey (up 921%), Serbia (up 547.6%), Russia (up 277.9%) and India (up 193.6%).

Those countries that posted declines in their exported soya beans sales were led by: China (down -61.1%), Netherlands (down -60.1%), Uruguay (down -37.9%), Belgium (down -34.8%) and Canada (down -12.6%).


Export Companies

Soya-based Products Export Companies

Below are global vegetarian and vegan firms that are players engaged in the international trade of soya-based goods. The home country for each company is shown within parenthesis.

Alpro (Belgium)

Earth’s Own Food Company (Canada)

Eden Foods Inc (United States)

Sahmyook Foods (South Korea)

Somenoya (Japan)