Building soybean yield through genetics and defensive traits

Creating new crop hybrids or varieties is expensive and time consuming with no real guarantee of a straight line to success. After all, it takes years to bring new lines to market, and industry demands can shift in that time frame.

One company that’s heavily invested in soybean breeding is Syngenta Canada. The company is one of four major soybean breeders in North America, and the company showcased the work it’s doing at its recent virtual Syngenta Media Summit.

“There’s huge investment into that breeding program from a North American, and also global perspective,” says Mathew Hooyer, soybean product placement specialist with Syngenta Canada, based at Arva, Ont. “We have a long history here of soybean breeding — we just celebrated 50 years — so that’s a huge accomplishment for Syngenta and we’re really proud of that.”

The footprint of the breeding program in Canada is robust. The breeding program specifically local to Ontario breeds for both traited products as well as conventional and food-grade products, says Hooyer.

A big focus in the genetics for soybeans bred by Syngenta has been the yield-robbing pests and diseases — phytophthora or soybean cyst nematodes are major concerns for soybean growers. Syngenta’s strategy to combat these concerns is to take those newer soybean traits and bring them into the elite conventional genetics.

This approach allows breeders to focus on bringing forward top-yielding lines — with phytophthora, RPS gene stacks, with great sudden death syndrome tolerance or white mould tolerance — along with genetic gains that won’t be disrupted entering into a new trait platform.

“Everybody can breed for yield, but can you maintain that yield at the end of the day,” says Hooyer. Yield potential can quickly be decreased when one of these yield-robbing pests can come along.

Catch the full conversation between Hooyer and Bernard Tobin below:

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