A Georgia marriage of old and new technologies has taken new soybean varieties from zero to commercial reality in less than five years.

"That's light speed for a breeding endeavor," says Roger Boerma, the University of Georgia plant breeder whose team accomplished this feat. "Thirty years ago, it took 12 years to develop a new variety. From the mid-1970s, it has required eight years."

The scientists knocked off two years with DNA instrumentation developed by scientists and engineers to sequence the human genome and provided to the University of Georgia by the Georgia Research Alliance.

Then, the Georgia Seed Development Commission, led by Director Earl Elsner, provided for winter seed increases in Puerto Rico that cut another year.

As a plant breeder, Boerma is rooted in traditional, proven methods. But he's not averse to the new marvels of genetic technology. The opportunity to combine the two presented itself in 1996.

That's the same year Monsanto made Roundup Ready soybean seeds available to growers.