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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Palmer, Reid
item Ortiz-perez, E
item Cervantes-martinez, I G
item Wiley, H
item Hanlin, Steve
item Healy, R
item Horner, H
item Davis, W

Submitted to: American Seed Trade Association Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/17/2003
Publication Date: 12/17/2003
Citation: Palmer, R.G., Ortiz-Perez, E., Cervantes-Martinez, I., Wiley, H., Hanlin, S.J., Healy, R.A., Horner, H.T., Davis, W.H. 2003. Hybrid soybean - current status and future outlook. American Seed Trade Association Conference Proceedings. 33:267-304. CD-ROM. Washington, D.C.:ASTA.

Interpretive Summary: There are five components that are crucial for the successful development of commercial hybrid soybean. The emphasis has been on identifying and measuring heterosis, as expressed by seed yield, but with limited success. The difficulty in identifying parents that contribute to heterosis, the inability to produce large quantities of hybrid seed, and the few commercial, public, or USDA scientists working on hybrid soybean, means that progress has been very slow. The Chinese announced the release of the world's first hybrid soybean in December 2002. This announcement has caused the United States soybean scientists, especially in the commercial seed business, to re-consider the possibility of hybrid soybean.

Technical Abstract: Hybridization and the subsequent heterosis or hybrid vigor, was the main factor for the commercialization of crops like maize, sorghum, tomatoes, etc. For self-pollinated crops like wheat, rice, and soybean, the commercialization of hybrids has been erratic (wheat), slow but positive (rice), or non-existent, until December 2002 (soybean). This review outlines the five components that are necessary for the successful development of soybean hybrids. China has several large-scale programs to develop hybrid soybean. The outlook for China for large scale commercial hybrid soybean within five years is very positive. Three major research groups, different sterility systems, different geographic locations (360 N ' 430 N latitude and full-season and double-cropping systems), more than 100 people per location dedicated to the task, and a positive attitude augurs well for success. These soybean researchers like to mention the hybrid rice story in China, once considered an impossible mission, now a reality. The Chinese have a focus and thus a commitment to succeed. In the United States, limited interest means limited resources equals very little commitment. If the commercialization of hybrid soybean in the United States were given a high priority by the seed industry and the various commodity interest groups, teams of scientists that are needed to achieve success would be assembled. An objective would be defined. Our approach has been to work on the limiting factor, an efficient pollen transfer mechanism from pollen parent to pod (female) parent. Our data indicate that segregation for insect (pollinator) attraction is under genetic control in soybean. Thus it should be possible to produce large quantities of hybrid seeds. If sufficient hybrid vigor can be identified, then hybrid soybean in the United States could have a large monetary impact, for the seedsman, farmer, and ultimately the consumer.

Last Modified: 06/23/2017
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