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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: IMPROVED RESISTANCE TO SOYBEAN PATHOGENS AND PESTS

Location: Soybean/maize Germplasm, Pathology, and Genetics Research

Title: Estimating soybean genetic gain for yield in the northern United States – Influence of cropping history

Authors
item Fox, Carolyn -
item Cary, Troy -
item Colgrove, Alison -
item Nafziger, Emerson -
item Haudenshield, James
item Hartman, Glen
item Specht, Jim -
item Diers, Brian -

Submitted to: Crop Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 19, 2013
Publication Date: November 1, 2013
Citation: Fox, C.M., Cary, T., Colgrove, A., Nafziger, E., Haudenshield, J.S., Hartman, G.L., Specht, J., Diers, B.W. 2013. Estimating soybean genetic gain for yield in the northern United States – Influence of cropping history. Crop Science. 53:1-10.

Interpretive Summary: North American soybean breeding efforts began early in the 20th century and have resulted in dramatic improvements in soybean yield. In 1924, the national estimate of USA soybean yield was just 690 kg ha-1, but by 2010 that yield estimate had almost quadrupled to 2753 kg ha-1, which translates into a linear annual yield gain of 21.3 kg ha-1. Contributors to this rise in soybean yield over time include improved crop genetics, and the optimization of the production environment through changes in cultural practices, advances in planting and harvesting equipment, and improved herbicides and pesticides. To estimate annual rates of genetic yield gain in three northern USA soybean maturity groups (MG) and determine if these estimates were influenced by cropping history, 45 MG II, 40 MG III, and 45 MG IV cultivars released between 1923 and 2008 were evaluated for yield and maturity in split-plot trials conducted in Illinois in 2010. The prior crop was corn (Zea mays L.) and the main plot pre-2010 cropping history treatments were either 11-yr of continuous corn or 11-yr of a soybean-corn rotation. The experiment-wide genetic yield gain estimate was 22.8 kg ha-1 yr-1 but, after covariate adjustment of yields for maturity, the estimate was 19.8 kg ha-1 yr-1. These estimates show that soybean genetic yield potential has improved at a rate nearly equal with the rate of on-farm yield improvement. Genetic yield gain estimates were not significantly different between the two cropping history treatments, though yield was 360 kg ha-1 greater when soybean was grown for the first time after 11-yr of continuous corn than in the soybean-corn rotation. The absence of interaction between cropping history and genetic yield gain suggests that breeding for greater cultivar yield potential was not mitigated or enhanced when the production environment yield potential was improved. This information is important to soybean breeders and other researchers interested in yield improvements of crops over time.

Technical Abstract: Mean on-farm USA soybean yield increased at a rate of 21.3 kg per ha per year between 1924 and 2010, due to adoption of yield-enhancing genetic and agronomic technologies. To estimate annual rates of genetic yield gain in three northern USA soybean maturity groups (MG) and determine if these estimates were influenced by cropping history, 45 MG II, 40 MG III, and 45 MG IV cultivars released between 1923 and 2008 were evaluated for yield and maturity in split-plot trials conducted in Illinois in 2010. The prior crop was corn and the main plot pre-2010 cropping history treatments were either 11-yr of continuous corn or 11-yr of a soybean-corn rotation. The experiment-wide genetic yield gain estimate was 22.8 kg ha-1 yr-1 but, after covariate adjustment of yields for maturity, the estimate was 19.8 kg ha-1 yr-1. These estimates show that soybean genetic yield potential has improved at a rate nearly equal with the rate of on-farm yield improvement. Genetic yield gain estimates were not significantly different between the two cropping history treatments, though yield was 360 kg ha-1 greater when soybean was grown for the first time after 11-yr of continuous corn than in the soybean-corn rotation. The absence of interaction between cropping history and genetic yield gain suggests that breeding for greater cultivar yield potential was not mitigated or enhanced when the production environment yield potential was improved.

Last Modified: 7/14/2014
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