Underutilized Genetics Could Help Soybeans Weather Mother Nature


If insects infest your soybean fields or if your crop is suffering from potassium deficiency, you can correct that for the future. But if your fields aren’t getting enough rain or are facing other weather-related stresses, you have much less of an ability to respond.  USDA research service geneticist Tommy Carter….

“In those cases where you don’t have management options the best thing to turn to is to get better genetics into the soybean, and using that to control the problem of drought, heat or flood.”                  

As part of a soy checkoff-funded research project, Carter is turning to soybean genes not commonly used in U.S. varieties to help your fields weather the elements. Through their work, researchers stumbled upon a soybean cultivar known as ‘fiskeby”  and hit the genetic lottery.

Fiskeby was developed in Sweden in the mid-20th century to be used in cooler climates. Here in the United States, with a warmer grower season, however, A.R.S. plant physiologist Kent Burkey says very few lines use fiskeby’s beneficial genes…

“You rarely find it in US cultivars, and what means is that the source of stress-tolerant genes probably hasn’t been integrated into US cultivars to the extent that it could be.”                         

Breeding for fiskeby’s positive traits but not the negative ones, such as its early maturity and short stature, will be difficult. But Burkey says it’s worth the effort given fiskeby’s ability to tolerate stresses such as cold, heat, ozone and salt…

“Fiskeby’s is an amazing plant.  We don’t know of any other example of a single genotype that has stress tolerance to all these different stresses.  Very impressive and very unusual.  It’s a great opportunity for us to to look at these things all in one package.”                    

To learn more about checkoff-funded research that can help maximize farmer profitability, visit united soybean dot org

A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.