Cultivating Yield Increasing Soybean Varieties

Sponsored by the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board and the soybean checkoff, Dr. Leandro Mozzoni, soybean breeder and associate professor at the University of Arkansas’s Division of Agriculture, is leading a group of research associates in an effort to bring Group IV varieties to Arkansas.

Working with their soybean breeding counterparts in Chile, Mozzoni took advantage of the southern hemisphere’s planting season. In October of 2017, Mozzoni and his team prepared beans they pulled for planting, and shipped them to Chile. They were planted in early November and in the following April, Mozzoni headed to Chile to make final selections on the Group IV varieties his team developed the year before. The hope is to have seeds ready for planting for the 2018 season.

“It’s a fun time,” Mozzoni said. “You start to see some potential; you start to see some good pedigrees. We want to get the best Group IVs as quickly as we can.”

With a goal of helping the soybean farming industry in Arkansas, Mozzoni and his team work with commodity traits and specialty traits, like drought and flood, when developing new varieties.

Selecting soybeans with yield in mind, the samples are screened once the breeding process is finished to measure their tolerance for major diseases Arkansas soybean growers face, like stem canker and nematodes.

However, working to develop new varieties starts before seeds are ever planted in Mozzoni’s lab.

A resource Mozzoni didn’t have an as undergrad at the University of Arkansas was a planting marker system. Today, research associates separate seeds into pouches with a corresponding barcode that limits confusion and planting errors because of the easy access to seed information.

“If you have a planting error and you don’t solve it on time, then you don’t really know what you have in the product,” Mozzoni said. “So this makes you really really accurate.”

Beyond the markers are the people.

Mozzoni has separated his program into three pillars: research, breeding and purification. With each pillar comes a main research associatie, along with a technician in the nursery and a second associate on the research side.

“We have multiple layers of people, but at the end of the day, what happens here is the base for everything we do,” Mozzoni said. “We’re not reinventing the wheel here, it’s a proven methodology. It allows us to go a lot faster and do a better job at breeding.”

As producers are spending more time on the go, catch the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board’s free podcast series. You’ll find a podcast on this topic and other checkoff-funded research.

To learn more about the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board’s checkoff-funded research, watch the full Field to Film: Featured Research video series here.