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Canadian Field Crop Genetics Improvement Cluster, Activity 3: Develop food quality soybean cultivars and germplasm with improved yield and pest resistance for domestic and export markets

Principal Investigator

Kangfu Yu & Lorna Woodrow

Research Institution

Harrow Research and Development Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)

External Funding Partners

This project is part of the $10.3 million Canadian Field Crop Genetics Improvement Cluster funded by the Canadian Field Crop Research Alliance (CFCRA) and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) through the Industry-Led Research and Development Stream of the Growing Forward 2 AgriInnovation Program. Grain Farmers of Ontario is a founding member of the CFCRA.

Project Start

April 2013

Project End

March 2018


  • Develop food quality soybean cultivars and germplasm with improved yield and pest resistance for domestic and export markets.
  • Develop breeding technologies to facilitate selection for improved food quality and pest resistance.
  • Evaluate food type soybean germplasm for resistance to Soybean Cyst Nematode (SCN), Soybean Aphid (SBA), and Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS).


  • The development and release of non-GM soybean varieties with enhanced properties for soyfood manufacturing has the potential to increase the global market share for Canadian soybean producers particularly in Asian and Pacific Rim markets.
  • The development of novel breeding selection technologies accelerate screening for germplasm and variety development; improve selection accuracy and efficiency; and reduce the program input costs to maximize return on investment in research partnerships.
  • The development of pest resistant varieties has the potential to maximize profitability for Canadian soybean growers while protecting agro-environmental health.

Scientific Summary

Canada has established a global reputation to produce high quality soybeans for the food grade market. Today food grade soybeans represent 35-40% of total Canadian production and over $500 million in revenue. Exports to key markets in the Asia-Pacific region and Europe continue to grow. Other soybean producing nations, particularly the US, are aggressively seeking to increase market share of food-grade soybean exports to the Pacific Rim. Retention and expansion of Canadian market share in this value-added market will depend on producing and delivering superior food grade soybeans with the yields growers require to remain profitable and with the quality and nutrition processors and consumers desire.

The project is focussed on developing high-yielding, pest-resistant, food-type soybean varieties for MG1.8 and later maturing areas in Ontario. Through conventional field selection, application of novel selection technologies, and screening of soybean plants for pest resistance in both field and lab. The essential criteria for food-type soybean are minimum 40% protein, large seed size (minimum 20g/100 seeds), and characteristics suited to the manufacture of soyfood products such as soymilk, tofu and miso. In addition to food-type characteristics, pest resistance is important in the development of food-type soybean varieties. Soybeans have been in continuous production in Southern Ontario for 100 years resulting in significant long-term pest pressure as well as the arrival and establishment of new invasive pests. Critical pests which reduce yield and quality in Southern Ontario are soybean cyst nematode (SCN), soybean aphid (SBA), sudden death syndrome (SDS) and phytophthora root rot (PRR). The project is developing novel SNP molecular markers for resistance to these pests to enhance selection efficiency.

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