DuPont Pioneer soybean product development senior research scientist Les Kuhlman notes T Series products represent the largest number of soybean varieties advanced in a single year by Pioneer and succeed the Y Series soybeans introduced several years ago.
DuPont Pioneer soybean product development senior research scientist Les Kuhlman notes T Series products represent the largest number of soybean varieties advanced in a single year by Pioneer and succeed the Y Series soybeans introduced several years ago.
JOHNSTON, Iowa — A new series of Pioneer brand soybeans is the end-result of the company’s unique breeding process that expedites delivery of products to the marketplace.

Through the Accelerated Yield Technology process, the new T Series soybeans are available for the upcoming growing season. The initial launch features 39 new soybean products over seven maturity groups.

T Series products represent the largest number of soybean varieties advanced in a single year by Pioneer and succeed the Y Series soybeans introduced several years ago.

“For the past five years, we’ve had a really successful product line — the Y Series. It has been well received, had excellent performance and there was a lot of good things about it,” Les Kuhlman, DuPont Pioneer senior research scientist, soybean product development, said at the company’s annual two-day media event.

“What’s next is the T Series soybeans, the next generation of varieties that have been produced through our breeding program. One of the hallmarks of the new T Series is the leverage of the new technology. Increased investment in research is driving the limits of yield potential, agronomic traits and disease resistance.”

Employing environment-specific markers to help optimize yields by geography, the AYT process pinpoints native trait genes for increased defensive trait protection and improved pest resistance packages tailored for specific geographies.

AYT employs novel trait integration through a proprietary matrix of gene mapping, molecular breeding technologies and intense local field testing. The system is a key part of a comprehensive plan to accelerate yield gain and broaden resistance to key diseases and insects.

Among the new class of T Series soybeans, 34 varieties will carry the Roundup Ready gene. There are two new Plenish high oleic varieties, five new products with the LibertyLink gene and two new varieties with the Roundup Ready/STS stack.

Also, 32 products are soybean cyst nematode resistant and 29 carry a major phytophthora-resistant gene. All T Series products will be available with Pioneer Premium Seed Treatment products.

Kuhlman said the T in the series stands for “technology, trust and tested.”

“The Y Series used many components of AYT, but the T Series has been able to leverage all of them. What is really exciting about the T Series is it’s using all of the newest technologies to produce a product,” he said. “We can produce products a lot faster that yield more.”

A second component of the T Series is its development through localized research, product testing and agronomic expertise, according to Kuhlman.

“As opposed to using strip trials, we now use (Intensively Managed Product Advancement, Characterization and Training) locations. These are plots that may be eight rows of 60 feet, planted by Pioneer and harvested by Pioneer in over 1,000 locations across North America,” he said.

“That’s much different than we’ve had in the past, and that type of precision information is how we’re able to advance these products and know where they fit and have confidence that they fit there.”

Another key to the tested concept is expanded research.

“We’ve added five research centers for soybeans over the past two years. That’s really going to drive the future of research for us,” Kuhlman said.

“We also have more agronomists in the field today than we’ve had before, so we’re taking those best practices to the customer, so that we give them the best product and they have the best information for those products.”

He said the third component of the T Series soybeans is sales professionals working with growers to develop tailored solutions under the “right product, right acre” philosophy.

“It’s delivering that convenience, confidence and peach of mind that growers expect,” he said. “Our local sales professionals are the boots on the ground, but it’s not just them.

“We have account managers, territory managers, agronomists, research teams, technical teams and production teams, along with local sales professionals, that are helping translate the information and knowledge to the growers.”

Kuhlman provided details of the AYT process and its three technologies that are core to the process that developed the T Series soybeans.

“AYT is a proprietary matrix of breeding technologies. It’s an umbrella for a lot of different technologies,” he said.

Among the technologies is the forward breeding of native traits.

“We currently have over 50 traits available for market assisted selection,” Kuhlman said. “MAS has been around a while, but its impact is felt more today than it has in the past. This allows you to use that genetic information and only select the ones that have the traits of interest.

“Each breeder is able to look at all of the different defensive needs that they have in their region to make sure all those varieties are front-loaded with those traits before they even go to the field.

“The second component of AYT that is really making waves and really changing how we do things is Context Specific Mapping for yield.

“Yield is our most important trait, and it’s also our most difficult trait to work with. That’s the balance we live in. We’re leveraging this for yield, and it makes us able to select for yield like we would native traits, so before we ever put it in the field, we can see how it would do for yields.

“We’re able to front-load a breeding program with those things that actually have yield, just like we would with trait markers. It’s very resource intensive. It’s very difficult to do, but the payoffs are huge. That is a core AYT technology that we use in soybeans.”

The third part of AYT is whole genome predictions, providing predictions for quantitative traits that make forward breeding more effective.

It allows early generation screening and allows selection progress to be made when phenotypic data is unavailable due to the environment.

“For example, we did not have a big sudden death syndrome year for soybeans in 2012. It was dry and not good conditions,” Kuhlman said.

“We can create predictions based on years we had really good data and just apply them in years that we don’t have data, so it allows you to consistently evaluate material in a way that you could not before.

“Traditionally, in 2012 we just would not have any data. Genomic predictions can expand that and create predictions out of excellent data sets and use them even in years we don’t have data.”

The AYT technology also is among the tools being utilized to develop drought-tolerant soybean varieties, and Kuhlman is involved in that research.

“Drought tolerance is important for soybean production in many areas. I work in Kansas and western Missouri, where we’ve had drought in the past two years,” he said. “Our colleagues in corn have been real successful with AQUAmax. They’re really good at what they’re doing and have created a really good product lineup.

“We’re able to leverage that knowledge. Our colleagues in corn were able to use their experience in developing managed environments and phenotypes in order to get ahead of the game.

“It may take us two years to learn what would have taken us five years without somebody by side telling us how it works, so it’s really great to have excellent colleagues that can share their experiences from corn.

“There is, obviously, a big difference between corn and soybeans, so it’s not that we’re doing that, but we are really taking advantage of data variation.”

Pioneer’s past research has found a broad variation in drought tolerance.

“When you apply specific stress and specific times, some varieties fall apart completely, and some do not, so that’s what we’re looking for — those varieties that have the stability to make it through those more difficult times,” Kuhlman said.

“We’re applying precision phenotyping with managed environments where we might apply stress during flowering or pod fill or any physiological stage of soybean growth and then determine what happens and how that soybean reacts.

“It’s an exciting time to be in soybean research. Our AYT tools allow our breeders to create better products which come to the market faster. Research today will no doubt pay dividends in performance tomorrow.”