UW researchers working on new soybean

posted Dec. 12, 2016 9:05 a.m. (CDT)
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by / Jim Massey, Editor | jim.massey@ecpc.com

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MADISON — UW-Madison agronomy researchers say they expect good things from the university’s first soybean cultivar release in more than 45 years — a non-genetically modified variety that should be ready for release in 2018.

Damon Smith, a UW-Madison assistant professor of plant pathology, told Wisconsin Crop Improvement Association annual meeting attendees Nov. 29 that a soybean variety called “Dane” will be a food-grade, non-GMO cultivar with “excellent white mold resistance.”

He said it will be the university’s first soybean cultivar release since 1970.

“The Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board has an interest in non-GMO soybeans,” Smith said. “The board thinks maybe it would be a niche for Wisconsin to move into organic soybean production, because Wisconsin has so many organic farms.”

The WSMB provides funding for soybean research in Wisconsin.

Smith said the cultivar — officially numbered at W16-9138 — has provided middle-of-the-pack yields in field trials, but what it lacks in yield is made up for in protein content.

Yield averages in trials of the cultivar have been just under 50 bushels per acre, with 38 percent protein and 19 percent oil content.

North Dakota researchers have also developed a non-GMO soybean cultivar, but the yield and protein and oil content are lower than Dane.

“We feel like we’re in the real in terms of having something that can meet market needs,” Smith said. “When the marketing board looked at it they thought 9138 might be able to make up for what it lacks in yield with higher protein and oil.”

Dane was moved into field trials in 2016 after work was conducted in laboratory and greenhouse settings. In field trials, the plants did not lodge despite displaying excellent white mold resistance, Smith said.

“We have a data package from 2014 to 2016 being assembled,” he said. “Our ultimate goal is for full release through Wisconsin Foundation Seeds in 2018 if everything goes well.”

The biggest obstacle for Dane to overcome will be weed control, Smith said.

“If somebody can solve the organic weed-control problem, then we’ve got a perfect variety for that system,” he said.

Shawn Conley, state soybean and small grain specialist, said 2016 was a record year in terms of soybean produc-tion and yields in Wiscon-sin. The previous per-acre yield record was 50.5 bushels, while this year the state average was 55.

“We saw crazy soybean yields in field trials in Platteville,” Conley said. “We had 11 varieties over 100 bushels per acre.”

The main yield driver was seed size, Conley said.

“Seeds were probably 15 percent bigger than normal,” he said. “We saw a really good pod set and soybean seed size.”

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