Public Soybean Varieties.....Growing in the Right Direction
At Clemson University the soybean breeding program is lead by Benjamin D. Fallen at the Pee Dee Research and Extension Center. The primary objective of the program is to provide genetic solutions that will ultimately lead to new and improved soybean germplasm lines and cultivars to enhance soybean production and soybean profitability for South Carolina farmers. The soybean breeding program is dedicated to developing both herbicide resistance and conventional soybean varieties that range in maturity from a MG V to a MG VIII with traits desirable in SC. Traits of interest include yield, insect resistance, disease resistance, genetic diversity and value added traits such as: high oleic acid, increased protein and an improved amino acid profile.
Performance of South Carolina breeding lines with regard to seed yield, agronomic traits and nematode/disease resistance are tested each year in comparison to the performance of known, productive, commercial soybean cultivars. Evaluation of new lines begins with preliminary breeder tests followed by advanced breeder tests and then selected lines move into regional USDA tests and state variety tests. See Clemson's Variety Trial website for results of SC official variety performance tests.
From 2008 to 2013 soybeans were the second or third highest value field crop in SC, averaging over $100 million. The top producing counties were Clarendon, Dillon, Darlington, Florence, Lee, Horry and Williamsburg. It is estimated the demand for soybean meal is expected to increase with the increase in livestock production over the next decade. Also, the demand for soybean oil is expected to increase over the next decade, due to the increase in biodiesel produced from soybean oil and improvements being made to the oil that reduces the need to hydrogenate the oil, eliminating trans fats.
Each state has different growing conditions (climate, disease and insect pressure, etc.) and most of which vary from region to region within the state. Having a local soybean breeder is important for local farmers, consumers and the economy. For each Bu/A increase in yield from genetic gain, insect resistance, disease resistance, etc. equals increased income for South Carolina soybean producers. In addition, any traits including high oleic acid or seed composition that might add desirability and value will be beneficial to South Carolina farmers.
Funding is provided by the Public Service Activities Department at Clemson University and through grants from the South Carolina Soybean Board (Check-off funds). Funds provided by this grant supply a portion of the operating funds required for the winter nursery project, supplies, travel, small equipment purchases, and part-time labor. Funding provided by the South Carolina Soybean Board is vital to the on-going soybean breeding effort and future success of the program. In addition, grants from the United Soybean Board, the USDA-NIFA and others are appreciated and vital to the continued success of the soybean breeding program at Clemson University.
Additional varieties have been released and licensed to seed companies for commercial production.