Andrew Scaboo has led the Northern Missouri Soybean Breeding Program since he joined the University of Missouri as a senior research scientist in 2012. Now an assistant research professor, Scaboo continues to dedicate his time to the breeding program, which focuses on variety development, testing and release.
Scaboo conducts yield testing at six locations throughout Missouri, including the Greenley Research Center in Novelty. The Center has played a critical role in the soybean breeding program, which is largely funded by the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council (MSMC).
Scaboo has planted soybean field experiments at Greenley since he joined MU. The site is used for variety and germplasm development, as well as genetics research for students.
“Novelty has always been a big part of my program,” Scaboo said. “I release a handful of varieties every year, and every single one of them is tested at Novelty. It’s an important location for our variety trials.”
Scaboo said soybeans in his breeding program go through four years of yield testing, with only the best lines advancing to actual variety release.
The first year of yield testing includes 1,500 lines in what is called a preliminary yield trial. Those lines are being evaluated for yield, maturity and other agronomic traits. The best eight to 10 percent of those lines advance to the second year of testing, called the advanced yield trial. Those lines are not only tested at the six locations in Missouri, including Greenley, but also in Iowa, Nebraska and Illinois.
The lines are condensed once again for the third year of testing, with the best eight to 10 percent advancing, leaving around 12 to 15 lines for another round of advanced yield trials. The soybeans in the third year are also put through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Northern Uniform Soybean Trials and grown across the United States.
The best lines are saved for the fourth year for another round of testing. They go through USDA Northern Uniform Soybean Trials again as well. In total, Scaboo receives data from 50 locations across the country. The best lines are then released. Scaboo released four varieties last year.
“There are two avenues for commercialization of soybean varieties released from our program,” Scaboo said. “We’ll have a variety licensed to the Missouri Crop Improvement Association (MCIA) and/or regional seed companies and sold to farmers as a soybean variety. The other avenue is a variety could be licensed to one of the major seed companies, where it is used within their breeding program as germplasm for variety development.”
This year, Scaboo has planted more acres of soybeans than he ever has at Greenley. Not only are his regular breeding program trials continuing, he has planted close to 20,000 progeny rows at the Research Center. Those rows represent more than 100 unique populations of soybeans. Scaboo will walk through each of those rows in October and the best lines enter his breeding program.
“There are numerous reasons as to why a row will be chosen for the preliminary yield trials,” Scaboo said. “We’ll choose them based on genotyping, protein content, maybe fatty acid content. There are a variety of factors.”
Scaboo generally plants the progeny rows in Columbia.
“At the Greenley Research Center they have nice, big fields,” Scaboo said. “They’re also a little more uniform across a larger area. It’s nice to make selections in that environment, as there are more soybeans grown there than in the Columbia area. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to plant and evaluate my progeny rows in that location.”
Within Scaboo’s breeding program, he is evaluating a variety of important traits in collaboration with several groups. Along with the USDA, Scaboo works with the United Soybean Board (USB) and the North Central Soybean Research Program (NCSRP). The USB work includes trials for high-protein soybean lines. Scaboo’s work with NCSRP is focused on yield improvement and the soybean cyst nematode (SCN) field trials.
Scaboo said SCN resistance, phytophthora resistance, high oleic/low linolenic and high protein are all soybean traits evaluated at Greenley.
“Greenley is used as a collaborative field testing site for a multitude of projects,” he said.
There is a lot of graduate student work that takes place at Greenley as well. Scaboo’s students work primarily with wild soybeans.
“My students have done some really interesting work with wild soybeans,” Scaboo said. “We’ve developed soybean populations with wild soybeans and evaluated the genetics of those wild varieties, as well as hybrids.”