Veggie Soybeans About to Get Even Sweeter
Comis December 10, 2007
Sweeter edamame soybean varieties for organic farmers are being
developed by Virginia State University (VSU)
and Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
Tadesse Mebrahtu, a plant breeder with VSU in Petersburg, Va., is
developing new varieties of this large-green vegetable soybean in cooperation
with Thomas E.
Devine, a geneticist with the
Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory, Beltsville, Md.
Mebrahtu and Devine have found five types of vegetable soybeans with
higher-than-usual levels of sugar. Mebrahtu and his VSU colleagues do the
hybridization and chemical analyses for sucrose and total sugar content.
These five types serve as the parent lines for new lines of
Edamame have large beans that are harvested when still green. They are
boiled and slipped out of their pods and added to everything from salads to
succotash, including mixed and stir-fried vegetables, soups, and casseroles.
They are an increasingly popular health food in this country and standard fare
in Asian countries.
On Devine's part, the search for sweeter edamame varieties for organic
farmers stemmed from his more than two decades of breeding giant soybean plants
for livestock forage.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.