Mature soybeans, Southern Research and Outreach Center, Waseca.

Soybean Breeding and Genetics

Principal Investigator

Aaron Lorenz

Department and College

Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences

Project Number


Funding Type

State of MN (SAES)

Project Start and End Date

July 1, 2016-June 30, 2019

Project Summary

Soybean (Glycine max) was grown on over 7.5 million acres in Minnesota and produces 3.2 billion dollars in cash receipts, accounting for 30% of the total crop cash receipts received by Minnesota farmers in 2015. Soybean breeding is an important activity that results in the development of new varieties improved for yield, time to maturity, disease resistance, insect resistance and quality. Soybean yields have increased from ~20 bu/ac in the early 1940s to near 50 bu/ac in 2015. Approximately 67% of this increase has been attributed to genetic gain, or in other words, the development of better varieties through breeding. Soybean breeding programs are constantly changing methodology in response to advances in knowledge of the underlying trait genetics and advancing technology.

The objectives of this MAES project proposal are:

  1. Develop superior general purpose, food type, and specialty type soybean varieties adapted to Minnesota
  2. Develop new traits, sources of pest resistance, and germplasm for new cropping systems and conventional cropping systems
  3. Research new methods for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of soybean breeding programs
  4. Educate and train graduate students.

Two examples of activities are provided for each of the first three objectives. The development of specialty varieties, such as the Triple Null variety and high oleic - low linolenic soybean varieties will open up market opportunities for MN farmers. New sources of soybean aphid and soybean cyst nematode resistance will be developed and incorporated into MN-adapted varieties. Research on genomic selection and high-throughput phenotyping will be conducted in order to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of soybean breeding. Training and education of graduate students is an ongoing activity of the breeding program.