Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. is set to release a new soybean variety that will provide Southern growers with protection against multiple races of soybean cyst nematodes (SCN) without sacrificing yields. This offers substantial benefits to growers because annual yield losses in soybeans due to SCN have been estimated at about $1.5 billion in the U.S. alone.

The Pioneer brand soybean variety 95M60, developed through the company's proprietary molecular marker technology, will be in production this summer and available for purchase in the fall.

"This is a breakthrough for farmers in the South," says Tim Foley, Pioneer's research director for the Southern United States. "Farmers needed a good, high-yielding variety with multi-race SCN resistance."

"Resistance to SCN races 1, 2, 3, 5 and 14 has been confirmed with 95M60. A change in the nematode spectrum in Southern fields created a need for this type of multi-race resistance," adds Foley.

"For many growers, it's no longer a traditional Race 3 situation," he says. "We are seeing more and more nematode races that are difficult to control. For many years, SCN resistance was used to control the predominant race in a field, but by controlling the principal race, other races have become more prevalent."

Soybean breeding usually carries tradeoffs between resistance traits and yield potential. The challenge for breeders has been to broaden the SCN resistance package without an accompanying decline in yields. Pioneer researchers addressed this problem by using their exclusive molecular markers to select for a multi-genic SCN resistance package.

Markers are simply pieces of DNA that are associated with genes of interest, explains Foley. Selecting for resistance markers makes the breeding process both faster and more efficient.

"It's like using a fish finder to enable you to go to where the fish are," he says. "You can focus on the 5 percent of the lines that have the full resistance package, not the 95 percent that don't."

Pioneer applied its patented SCN molecular marker technology to develop 95M60.

"We used those markers to ensure we had the genes required for multi-race resistance and focused our field-testing efforts on identifying superior yield performance," says Foley. "We stacked the deck and were able to come up with all face cards."

The new variety will be an excellent fit in Southern fields, he adds.

"In addition to multi-race SCN resistance, 95M60 has a couple of other traits that are beneficial and unique," says Foley. "It has good root-knot nematode resistance and very strong soybean aphid antibiosis."

Growers are encouraged to check out 95M60 in Pioneer plot trials across the South this summer.