“Don’t plant THAT soybean trait! There’s yield drag!”

I can’t believe how many times I’ve heard that during the 2020 growing season. Once the yield data came out in October and November, the discussion should have been over . . . but it’s not!

First of all, if you haven’t gotten a chance to review yield data from your area, you need to do that right away. Not that you necessarily have to pick specific varieties to plant on your farm from the data, but you can at least settle the curiosity you may be feeling about certain trait platforms and their yield potential.



One of the trait platforms I heard growers saying had yield drag in March, April, and May 2020 was Enlist. Seed dealers either had Enlist or they didn’t. My experience was about 80% of the “yield drag” claims originated from dealers who didn’t have Enlist to sell. The other 20% was largely made up of farmers who had a problem with Enlist the first year they had it. Whether it was a defensive trait that was lacking (brown stem rot, sudden death syndrome, white mold tolerance, etc.) or it was damage due to a drift issue (mainly dicamba drift), they felt their Enlist crop was disappointing. We had a strip plot with Enlist and Xtend beans that really showed the drift impact on yield this year. On one end of the field there was substantial late-season drift that led to 30-bushel Enlist beans for the first 100 yards or so. After that, the beans yielded in the 60s and 70s, just like the Xtend beans did.


I personally haven’t heard any “yield drag” complaints about Xtend beans. They’ve been out for several years and have proven themselves.


This is a brand new trait that will have to be pretty good to replace Xtend in terms of yield. It’s just the first year, but this fall’s yield data has been impressive. XtendFlex breeders brought some home run hitters in the first class of products to hit the market. The biggest issue is there weren’t a substantial number of plots featuring XtendFlex along with competitive traits because XtendFlex didn’t have worldwide approval, so use this year was very restricted. While the yield overall is good, there are some defensive holes. In other words, in just the first year it’s hard to find all the defensive characteristics you want along with high yield in multiple varieties that all work on your farm.


The best part about 2020 is you can compare Enlist E3 varieties to Xtend varieties for yourself in your area. There are tons of plots out there showing Enlist versus Xtend side by side. Rather than believing the trait providers or the companies selling them, look at the independent data available. You’ll see, just as I have been talking about here, that the yields are very similar between these traits. I’m expecting XtendFlex to be at least on par with them overall going into 2021’s planting, as well. There are many differences between the traits, but yield drag isn’t one of them.