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Canadian Field Crop Genetics Improvement Cluster, Activity 8: Very Short Season herbicide tolerant soybean varieties adapted to the Canadian Prairies

Principal Investigator

Elroy Cober

Research Institution

Ottawa 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


  • Generate populations through crossing herbicide tolerant and conventional parents and advanced to the F3 using single seed descent in the greenhouse over the winter.
  • Evaluate conventional parental lines at known maturity loci using conventional approaches and molecular markers to target crosses for early maturity.
  • Develop new molecular markers that will become a part of the marker assisted selection activities in following years.
  • Perform preliminary yield trials on approximately 750 experimental lines in the field at Crop Development Centre (CDC), Saskatoon, SK and Morden Research Station, Morden, MB and adapted experimental lines will be retained.
  • Perform replicated trials on approximately 75 experimental lines grown in common trials by both CDC and Morden and adapted lines will be retained for further multiple location testing.


  • The development of very early maturity soybeans will allow for the expansion of soybean into short season areas of Canada.
  • The development of molecular markers targeting early maturity may lead to a better understanding of mechanisms conferring early maturity and allow for rapid breeding of adapted soybean varieties.

Scientific Summary

Soybeans are grown from Alberta to the Maritime Provinces. The short season areas in Canada are the areas of expansion for soybean. Important new areas for soybean expansion are north and west in Manitoba, in south-east Saskatchewan, and in southern Alberta. These areas require adaptation to long days, and to stresses of a continental climate. Selection within these environments provides the best opportunity to develop adapted germplasm. Stresses for Western Canada will include low night temperatures during soybean flowering, which causes male sterility. Soybeans are photoperiod sensitive where long days delay flowering and maturity. As a result, individual soybean cultivars are limited to a narrow band of latitude and are not well adapted if they are moved very far north or south from their area of adaptation. A number of genes have been identified which control time to flowering and maturity. It is possible to accumulate early flowering alleles and develop very short season soybean. We believe that it is reasonable to expect that very short season soybean can be developed.

This project fills a gap in soybean breeding since no public or private programs are making single plant, and progeny row selections so far north in Canada. This should allow for the development of more adapted very short season soybean varieties. The very early soybean project targets cultivar development for Saskatchewan and Manitoba. These adapted varieties then allow a realistic economic analysis for the role of soybean in cropping systems in Western Canada. Additionally, germplasm that is developed can be used as future parents as the soybean industry expands in the region. Since 90-95% of the Manitoba soybean crop is herbicide tolerant, we believe these production practices will be popular in the expanding soybean region, and that it is necessary to develop herbicide tolerant soybeans for the very short season areas of Western Canada. Experimental populations, lines, and ultimately released herbicide tolerant soybean cultivars targeted to the very short season areas of Canada will be developed. Molecular markers suitable for marker assisted selection targeted to maturity will be identified.

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