Enthusiasm mounts for new southern soybean

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Victorian grain grower Phil Barnes (left) with NSW DPI research agronomist and soybean breeder Luke Gaynor.

A soon-to-be-released high-yielding, early maturing, tofu-quality soybean is generating strong interest in southern NSW and northern Victoria

- By Felicity Pritchard,
Pritchard Agricultural Consulting and Extension

Crop varieties are usually released amidst speeches and fanfare, with new variety names only made public on the day of their launch. But in southern NSW and northern Victoria, a new soybean line is creating enough excitement that those in the know have been unable to keep its name secret.

Although breeding line ‘LO23B-23’ is yet to be officially named, its reputation – along with its secret name – has quickly spread, with growers keen to buy seed. Once commercially released, LO23B-23 stands to be the highest-yielding soybean variety for this region, outperforming the current front-runner, Djakal, by eight per cent.

The new variety is regarded as an outstanding example of the success of the Australian Soybean Breeding Program of the GRDC, CSIRO and NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI). Its high yields, high quality and fast maturity tick all the important boxes on soybean growers’ wish lists.

The NSW DPI estimates about 8000 hectares of soybeans were sown in south-east Australia this season; about 6180ha in the Riverina and the remainder in Victoria, owing to good market prospects and water availability. While this is down from around 14,000ha in southern Australia in the mid-1990s, it is a vast improvement since the drought, when the irrigated soybean area reached a low of less than 1000ha in the Riverina and was wiped off the map in Victoria.

A major plus for LO23B-23 is its lodging resistance. Lodging makes harvest difficult and excess dirt in samples can reduce the grain quality to crushing grade.

Another positive is its early maturity, ripening about four days before Djakal, which is currently the region’s most popular variety. LO23B-23 also matures about nine days before its parent, Snowypbrlogo, a similar quality soybean bred for the area.

“This ensures the crop finishes well before overnight temperatures begin to drop and also reduces total crop water use and irrigations,” says NSW DPI soybean breeder Luke Gaynor.

Its early maturity, combined with its adaptation to flexible planting dates, makes LO23B-23 the perfect choice for double cropping systems and all southern summer cropping areas, Mr Gaynor says. Some irrigators can sow up to seven summer and winter crops in succession. This maximises returns and water use efficiency by not wasting residual soil moisture between crops and provides a nitrogen source for subsequent cereal crops. LO23B-23 can be sown until late December in the Murrumbidgee Valley if absolutely necessary. It performs well under flood irrigation, raised beds and overhead sprinkler systems, he says.

Importantly for growers, LO23B-23 also boasts high protein content compared with Djakal – a key criterion for many soybean buyers. Soybean needs at least 40 per cent protein on a dry matter basis to be considered for human consumption markets such as tofu and soy milk. Tofu-quality soybeans currently fetch up to $150 a tonne more than those crushed for oil. 

The new soybean is ideal for both soy milk and tofu production, following breeding efforts to obtain a clear-coloured seed scar (hilum). Soybeans with clear hila are preferred by premium markets.

LO23B-23 also has broad resistance to the disease phytophthora thanks to several genes, in contrast to Djakal which has only single-gene resistance.

The only drawback to the new variety is its relatively small grain size. However, Mr Gaynor says it measures up so well in every other area.

Coleambally grower Steve Wilson hosted a variety trial in 2010-11 and was impressed with LO23B-23.

“The yields were slightly better than Djakal and it didn’t lodge, which is a major concern for us. Djakal doesn’t lodge either but some other varieties do,” Mr Wilson says. “It is also a few days earlier than Djakal. I would grow it again if seed is available.”

Victorian DPI climate specialist and former soybean researcher Dale Grey says the soybean industry has been reinvigorated in southern Australia by the availability of water. This season will see Victoria’s biggest crop in 12 years. Many first-time growers have adopted soybeans in Victoria to recoup the cost of water, he says.

The soon-to-be-released variety will undoubtedly inspire even more confidence in growing soybeans in southern Australia and has the potential to bring the industry to new heights. 

LO23B-23 soybean

  • A new soybean bred specifically for southern NSW and northern Victoria.
  • About eight per cent higher yielding than Djakal and 17 per cent high yielding than SnowyA.
  • Commands premium prices due to clear hilum and very high protein content.
  • Resistant to lodging with good crop height.
  • Matures about four days earlier than Djakal and nine days before SnowyA and has a broad sowing window.
  • Well suited to double cropping to maximise water use efficiency and margins.
  • Multiple resistance genes against phytophthora.

 

Table 1: Yield, quality, maturity and lodging comparison of new soybean variety L023B-23 with older varieties. Data averaged over five seasons at Leeton, NSW. Source: NSW DPI


IMAGE CAPTION: Victorian grain grower Phil Barnes (left) with NSW DPI research agronomist and soybean breeder Luke Gaynor. Photo: Nicole Baxter


GRDC Research Code CSP00104


More information:
Luke Gaynor, 0428 260 156, luke.gaynor@dpi.nsw.gov.au;
Soybean Marketing Guide for Growers;
www.grdc.com.au/CSP00104

GRDC Project Code CSP00104