From the Farm: Soybean breeding is a long process

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ILLINOIS (WCIA) — University of Illinois Soybean Breeder Brian Diers creates Illini soybean genetics for Doug Baird of Baird Seed company, but says it takes many years of multiple generations annually to get a new variety.

“This field is our nursey field and so this year what we will be doing is making crosses,” says Diers. “And what that will do is allow is to make new breeding populations. And from those crosses, what we’ll do is we’ll grow F-1 plants, which are the hybrids from the crosses. And then we’ll go through a process of in-breeding several generations. And we want to speed this process up as much as possible, so one of the things we do is we contract with Illinois Crop Improvement, and they have a nursery in Puerto Rico where they can actually grow 2 generations during the winter.

“So that speeds up the in-breeding. And then we’ll bring the seed back and harvest individual plants and each individual plant that we’ll harvest will be a potential new variety. And then what well do is spend a few years identifying which of those potential varieties have the potential of becoming a new variety. And so, we’ll then, after we develop this new variety or potential variety, we’ll go through a number of years of agronomic testing.

“And every year what we’ll do is test them more thoroughly, but we’ll test fewer lines because we’ll only select about 10% each year. And we’ll go through 4 years of these tests before we’ll finally have something that we’ll feel confident enough that it has the potential of being a new variety that we’ll hand off to Doug.”

WCIA: Baird says it has to have yield performance, or the agronomic trait performance is worthless. You’ll see a lot more in our Farm Showcase on June 26.

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