Dramatic increases in soybean seed costs for 2009 (25 to 109%) have many growers rethinking their soybean seed options. The most drastic alternative being floated in the coffee shops is brown bagging or planting “saved” soybean seed. Before a grower considers this option we must revisit the legal issues and agronomic considerations associated with this practice. First, we will address the legal issues surrounding planting saved seed. In Wisconsin alone 90% of the soybean crop planted in 2008 was herbicide tolerant (USDA -ERS, 2008). Herbicide tolerant varieties are classified as patented varieties or possess patented genes. “If the variety is patented or has a patented gene, no seed may be saved for planting purposes and no farmer seed sales are permitted” (Spears and Weisz, 2004). It is likely given the economic climate we are under that field monitoring procedures will be ramped up in 2009 to “catch” growers that plant patented varieties. It is also apparent that those growers that are caught will be prosecuted and fined to the legal extent of the law to discourage other growers from attempting this practice.
Soil Science Extension
University of Wisconsin Madison