Pioneer research scientist Mark Hood has high expectations for a new herbicide-resistant soybean technology which could be on the market by 2010. “It will be a clean event that will not have any yield drag. In fact, we anticipate a yield bump when the lines come out.”

According to Hood, Pioneer “is working on various approaches to the new herbicide technology. We are on a timeframe for approval sometime in the next few years.”

Hood said he could not comment further on the technology, which was announced at a field day celebrating Pioneer's new West Memphis Research Center in Proctor, Ark.

The facility was moved from Greenville, Miss., in part to allow the company to focus more on Group 4 soybeans. Hood said Group 4s are the cornerstone of the early soybean production system developed by retired USDA Agricultural Research Service soybean agronomist Larry Heatherly.

“No question, the popularity of the early soybean production system has made our soybean breeding program earlier. The majority of this program selects varieties in Group 4 and Group 5.

Pioneer field sales agronomist William Johnson noted that one advantage of the early soybean production system is that with earlier soybeans, “pod filling occurs during periods of heavier rainfall, saving most growers one or two irrigations.” Johnson and fellow field sales agronomist Roger Gipson have implemented a study of planting dates to determine the benefits of the system in reduced pumping costs and increased yields.

“At the same time, soybean producers need the disease and insect resistance characteristics,” Hood noted. “While Group 4s can simply outrun many disease problems, there are still plenty of opportunities to improve resistance to soybean cyst nematode, brown stem rot, Phytophthora root rot, white mold, sclerotenia and sudden death syndrome.”

Pioneer hopes to bring these characteristics to the market sooner than usual with a marker-assisted selection process. “When we cross a resistant line with a susceptible line, we use our markers to pull only those lines out that are resistant. Then we are able to spend our yield-testing resources on lines that have the packages we want.”

The company also announced five new soybean varieties. Descriptions are provided by the company:

95M81 RR — (5.8 maturity) Excellent shattering rating coupled with outstanding yield potential. Outstanding tolerance to frogeye leaf spot and southern root-knot nematode. Susceptible to soybean cyst nematode.

95M50 RR, STS — (5.5 maturity) Exceptional yield potential for maturity. Excellent resistance to southern root-knot nematode. Resistant to Race 3 of soybean cyst nematode. Very good tolerance to frogeye leaf spot.

95M30 RR — (5.3 maturity) Superb yield potential and harvest standability. Good southern root-knot nematode and stem canker resistance. Excellent tolerance to frogeye leaf spot. Outstanding soybean cyst nematode Race 3 resistance.

94M80 RR — (4.8 maturity) Superior yield potential and anti-shattering characteristics. Very good soybean cyst nematode Race 3 resistance. Favorable frogeye leaf spot tolerance. Outstanding sudden death syndrome tolerance.

94M50 RR — (4.5 maturity) Exceptional yield potential. Outstanding anti-shattering characteristics. Excellent tolerance to frogeye leaf spot and superb resistance to Race 3, soybean cyst nematode.