Currently available varieties of soybeans differ in growth characteristics and the time required for maturity. Variety characteristics can affect susceptibility to insect injury. For example, early-maturing varieties are less likely to be seriously damaged by soybean loopers or velvetbean caterpillars because they often mature before late-season generations of the pests occur. Also, varieties with little pubescence (hairs) on the undersides of leaves are susceptible to potato leafhopper infestations.
Maturity differences can be used to manage some insect pests. For example, planting about 5 percent of the soybean acreage in an area 10 to 14 days earlier than the remainder of the crop will concentrate overwintering bean leaf beetles into these earlier plantings. The early-planted soybeans serve as a trap crop for the adults, and a relatively small amount of insecticide can then be used to prevent their spread into later-planted soybeans. If early-maturing varieties are planted as the trap crop, they will also act as a trap crop for stink bugs during pod development.
Soybeans that do not have a closed canopy at the time of bloom, as often occurs in late plantings and wider row spacings, are more susceptible to bollworm infestations. No-till soybeans are at greater risk to cutworm damage than conventionally tilled soybeans.