Research HighlightsTexas Gulf Coast Soybean Variety Evaluations Provide Relevant Local Data
By Laura Temple
Texas soybean producers have limited local data when selecting varieties, yet this is one of their most critical decisions. To fill this gap, Texas A&M AgriLife Research evaluates soybean varieties for suitability to environmental conditions in key Texas regions with support from the Texas Soybean Board.
“Seed companies rarely have information on how soybean varieties perform in Texas,” says James Grichar, Senior Research Scientist for Texas A&M AgriLife Research, who oversees this annual research. “Often seed company information comes from results in other states. But, soil and weather conditions vary greatly along the Texas Gulf Coast. Producers need to be able to determine what soybean varieties will perform best in their area.”
Grichar explains that rainfed conditions along the Texas Gulf Coast are often much different than conditions where many seed companies test varieties they sell in that state. He typically plans variety trials at multiple locations in east and south-central Texas, and he has been conducting these trials for about 15 years. In 2020, trials were located in Calhoun, Jefferson and Victoria Counties. The east Texas trial in Jefferson County was conducted in cooperation with Mo Way and located at Beaumont.
The trials are typically planted between mid-March and early April in south-central Texas and early May in east Texas, based on local weather conditions. Adverse planting conditions, impact of rain from hurricanes and soil conditions all factor into each trial. Results include yield and quality data, knowledge of drought and flood tolerance and more.
For example, iron chlorosis can show up in soybeans planted along the lower Texas Gulf Coast, so a key objective of this work is to evaluate iron chlorosis tolerance. The study includes a plot on land with a history of iron chlorosis issues near Corpus Christi in cooperation with Josh McGinty, in Nueces County.
“We look at varieties every year and provide information on what we learn to area growers,” he says. “We evaluate soybean varieties from a range of seed companies, as well as selections from the Missouri breeding program that will allows us to have varieties adapted to Texas growing conditions.”
In 2020, the research included 27 varieties from various seed companies and 167 entries from the Missouri breeding program. Despite marginal moisture conditions last spring, rains allowed the Victoria County plot to be planted March 24. The Calhoun County trial was planted April 14, which is relatively late for the region.
Wildlife and livestock damage impacted some plots significantly, and hurricane forecasts forced early desiccation of other plots. The Missouri breeding program varieties were a couple weeks behind commercial varieties in maturity and were green when desiccated, so selections were made based on pod number and quality.
Though yields varied greatly because of these factors, the results will still be shared online and at local meetings. Knowledge gleaned from this work will inform variety selection for Texas soybean producers in 2021.
To find research related to this Research Highlight, please visit the National Soybean Checkoff Research Database.