By TIM ALEXANDER
URBANA, Ill. — ILLINI brand soybean varieties, developed by geneticists at the University of Illinois through breeding programs sponsored by the Illinois Soybean Assoc. and others, are still available for 2013 planting in limited quantities.
Non-genetically modified (GMO) foundation and retail classes of the ILLINI brand are being sold exclusively by the Williamsfield Seed Co. in Williamsfield, through a unique joint venture between the seed company and the U of I. Williamsfield Seed officials tout ILLINI for offering soybean producers new genetics they can use to capture premiums paid for growing conventional varieties.
“ILLINI brand varieties have the potential to reap some meaningful yield increases that will benefit a producer’s bottom line,” said Doug Baird, Williamsfield Seed owner. “We felt that the time was right for the development of the Williamsfield Seed Company and Illinois brand soybeans to give farmers a source of non-GMO soybean genetics.”
With the launch of the ILLINI brand, the U of I is continuing its long tradition of helping farmers increase yield and profitability through the combined efforts of top agronomists, breeders, scientists, geneticists and researchers. Research on soybeans began at the U of I in 1897, according to the university.
“(Sponsors’) investments have allowed us to use modern genetic technology such as marker-assisted selections in the development of new varieties,” said Brian Diers, crop sciences professor and soybean breeder at the U of I. “The ILLINI variety gives farmers options and is certainly worth considering for the 2013 growing season.”
Today’s farmers desire more options in soybean seed varieties, according to Baird, who has specialized in the production of foundation class and non-GMO soybeans for other companies for the past five years.
“Years ago there were about 40 soybean breeding programs supplying soybean genetics to seed companies. Today there are six major programs owned by multinational companies. We do not have the diversity of genetics being supplied to farmers as we had 35 years ago,” Baird noted, adding ILLINI brand varieties help meet demand for non-GMO soybeans in the organic marketplace.
“Not everyone in the world wants GMO products. There is a growing non-GMO premium market available for farmers, and additionally the organic market keeps increasing.”
ILLINI varieties are not the public varieties of the past but new releases that will yield as well or better than Roundup Ready or Liberty Link varieties, according to Baird.
“We are now seeing weed resistance to Roundup. With the new formulations of herbicides, why should the farmer need Roundup Ready? The only thing he is forfeiting is the Roundup Ready rescue, which isn’t working,” he said. “I have heard it said that you have to have a premium to make money with non-GMO soybeans. In the past that was a valid point, (but) today with the weed resistance, that is not so much the case.”
ILLINI brand soybean varieties include 6265N, a mid-maturity group II conventional variety, and late maturity group III varieties 3880B and 6393N. ILLINI conventional varieties were developed with “all the entire diverse naturally occurring genetics” to allow the expression of their maximum yield potential, according to a news release prepared by Williamsfield Seed Co.
“All GMO soybeans came from conventional soybeans, which have had their genetic profile interrupted to include resistance to herbicides and must be reselected for yield. ILLINI brand soybeans are conventionally developed from the newest high-yielding genetics selected for stability and disease tolerance,” Baird stated. “They are ready to give you additional yield and performance without any changes in their genetic structure.”
All ILLINI brand soybean varieties are resistant to soybean cyst nematode and moderately resistant to sudden death syndrome. Their pod color is brown and flower colors include purple and white (unfortunately, not the orange and navy blue hues representative of the U of I).
Regional field test results for ILLINI varieties can be reviewed at www.baird seedcompany.com/soybeans.html