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Ontario Grain Farmer Magazine is the flagship publication of Grain Farmers of Ontario and a source of information for our province’s grain farmers. 

Research roundup


Soybean research at Harrow
Erin Calhoun
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and the Greenhouse and Processing Crops Research Centre continue to develop food type soybean germplasm and cultivars for southern Ontario with improved yield, pest resistance, and enhanced quality for domestic and international soyfood markets. Centred in Harrow, the program is coordinated with other public and private research initiatives to develop new soybean cultivars.


New cultivars must provide superior agronomic performance and pest resistance for the producer. The program is focussed on increasing yield while maintaining protein content, a key quality trait for the soyfood processing industry, as well as developing pest resistance.

Dr. Kangfu Yu, soybean breeder, and Dr. David Hunt, entomologist, are collaborating on the identification of effective sources of soybean aphid (SBA) resistance for incorporation into new varieties to reduce SBA damage and the vector of soybean mosaic virus (SMV). Dr. Hunt is also studying SBA biology and mechanisms of soybean resistance to this pest. Dr. Ray Cerkauskas is working with Dr. Yu on the agent that causes sudden death syndrome (SDS) and potential sources of resistance.

Each year crosses are made to introduce resistance to these pests into the breeding populations and create a platform of germplasm for future work. All material in the breeding program is screened for soybean cyst nematode (SCN) resistance in cooperation with Tom Welacky, AAFC?research biologist. The cultivars identified most recently for release from the Harrow program have been SCN resistant. The ultimate objective is to release all future varieties with resistance to SCN, SBA, and SDS. 

In addition to the agronomic performance, new food-type soybean cultivars must possess quality characteristics that meet the requirements of soyfood processors.  These include processing performance and product yield, consumer acceptance, and health components. All of the advanced food-type soybean lines are evaluated for processing performance and yield for soy beverage and tofu production in the Harrow crop processing lab. Soybean composition is measured using near infrared (NIR) technologies developed at Harrow by Dr. Lorna Woodrow. This enables the soybean breeder to select for characteristics important to the food-grade soybean industry including storage protein ratios, fermentable carbohydrates, oligosaccharides, isoflavones, and sucrose. Soybean protein content is recognized as a key quality determinant for soyfoods such as soy beverage and tofu. The ratio of various soybean storage proteins significantly affects total protein content and product quality. 

A series of soybean breeding lines has been developed at Harrow which exhibit a range of soybean profiles. These lines are being used by Dr. Yuhai Cui to develop unique molecular markers for each protein component. These markers will facilitate the screening and identification of soybean lines with protein profiles suited for current and future soybean processing applications.
In the past year, two new food-type soybeans were released for production.  AAC Malden and AAC Stern both have high protein and SCN resistance and were available in 2014. Six more lines were released for industry assessment and expressions of interest. More cultivars are expected each year over the duration of the program. These new releases will provide cultivars that will help the Canadian soybean industry maintain competitiveness in domestic and global markets. A significant amount of support for this research is provided by the Canadian Field Crop Research Alliance, of which Grain Farmers of Ontario is a founding member.


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