Mitigating soybean harvest losses through enhancing podding height

Crop Soybean
Start Date2018
End Date2023
Principal InvestigatorAyele, Belay, University of Manitoba
Total Project Funding$327,761
ReportAyele – Pod Height – MPSG ANNUAL Extension Report – FEB 2020

Research Objectives

  1.  To identify specific plant growth regulators (PGRs) that enhance height of lowest pods in soybean plants
  2.  To optimize conditions for efficient application of the identified PGRs to soybean plants
  3.  To examine effects of the specific PGRs identified on soybean growth and yield under both controlled and field conditions
  4.  To identify a key pod height-controlling genetic element in soybean.

Project Description

The majority of soybean harvest losses occur at the header due to, for example, low pod height, which is referred to as stubble loss – a problem known to be more prevalent in short season varieties.

Owing to Manitoba’s short growing season, soybean producers are restricted to grow short season varieties that are characterized by low podding height of the lowest pods, and this makes stubble loss a recurrent problem for Manitoban soybean producers. Therefore, developing strategies that reduce stubble losses will have a significant impact in maximizing soybean yield.

Plant growth is controlled by plant produced compounds often referred to as plant hormones, and some of these compounds are implicated in enhancing plant height or stem lengthening. Thus, increasing pod height and thereby decreasing stubble losses may be achieved by altering the status of these hormones in soybean plants through application of their naturally occurring or synthetic forms, also known as plant growth regulators (PGRs).

Using experiments under controlled and field conditions, this study is aimed at developing a PGR-based strategy for increasing height of lowest pods in soybean and thereby decreasing the associated harvest losses. Furthermore, the study will identify a genetic element that is key in controlling stem length/plant height in soybean, which can be used as a central component in generating soybean varieties with increased podding height and decreased stubble losses in the long-term.

Given that stubble loss represents a significant yield reduction in soybean fields, the findings of this project will have the potential to mitigate the problem and deliver significant savings to Manitoban soybean producers.