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Source: USDA news release

U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service plant geneticist Tommy Carter, Ph.D., and his team of researchers plan to soon release a soybean breeding line offering drought-tolerant traits.

Funded in part by the soybean checkoff, Carter’s crew -- dubbed Team Drought -- narrowed down an original supply of over 5,000 varieties to five. These varieties display the slow-wilting trait and good yield potential under normal rainfall conditions. According to Carter, his slow-wilting lines yield four to eight bushels better than conventional varieties under drought conditions Carter began his quest for drought-tolerant soybeans 25 years ago. Over the past 11 years, the soybean checkoff has expanded this work, providing Carter and his team more than $7 million.

"In 1980, when I started this type of research, we all knew drought-tolerance was important to farmers. But from the research side, we didn’t know anything about drought-tolerance or if we could do anything about it genetically," Carter said. "Because of climate change, there’s been more awareness recently in the scientific community that drought research is a priority. The United Soybean Board [through soybean checkoff research programs] has been the one who was there the whole time, starting in 1998."

Following a final round of testing, Carter hopes to publicly release his drought-tolerant lines soon. Some southern breeding companies have already begun to use the materials.

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