Submitted to: Crop Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/15/2014
Publication Date: 3/13/2015
Citation: Williams II, M. 2015. Phenomorphological characterization of vegetable soybean germplasm lines for commercial production. Crop Science. 55:1274-1279.
Interpretive Summary: Vegetable soybean, also known as edamame, is a healthy food-grade soybean that is gaining popularity throughout the U.S. Despite the fact that the U.S. grows more grain-type soybean than any other nation, most of the edamame consumed in the U.S. is imported from Asia. In order to gain a better understanding of how edamame can be grown successfully in the U.S., we acquired seed of all public and commercial edamame lines and compared several aspects of performance to common grain-type soybean cultivars. In addition, edamame lines were scored using criteria critical to a viable U.S. edamame industry, including product appearance and taste. The impact of this work is that it revealed several areas where additional research and development of the food crop is needed, as well as identifying the most promising lines currently available for use in the Midwest U.S.
Technical Abstract: Growing demand for vegetable soybean has renewed interest in producing the crop in the U.S., a significant importer of vegetable soybean despite being the world’s largest producer and exporter of grain-type soybean. Field studies were conducted over three years to1) compare phenomorphological traits of vegetable and grain-type soybean, and 2) identify candidate lines for vegetable soybean production in the North Central U.S., the nation’s leading soybean-producing region. A total of 136 vegetable soybean entries from 24 sources were compared to 14 grain-type cultivars representing a range of maturity groups. Germination and emergence of vegetable soybean were poorer than grain-type entries. Seedling growth traits and rate of phenological development were higher in vegetable soybean. However, by the time of crop harvest (i.e. R6 growth stage), vegetable soybean produced shorter, smaller plants than grain-type soybean. Seed mass accounted for some of the variation in emergence and seedling traits. Filtering entry responses by criteria essential to viable commercial production, including a sensory evaluation, 12 entries from eight seed sources were identified as the most promising candidate lines for use in the North Central U.S. By comparing vegetable soybean responses to grain-type soybean, this work puts into perspective the agronomic performance of vegetable soybean germplasm available to growers in the U.S. and points to specific areas of future research and crop development.