You are here: Home > Soybean Breeding

Soybean Breeding


The Soybean Breeding Program has three main goals:

  • develop new varieties of soybean
  • research genetic improvement of soybean and other crops
  • train students in plant breeding

We plant over 60 acres of soybeans throughout the region and have a molecular genetics lab for marker-assisted selection.  We conduct research on the genetics and characterization of yield, quality, disease resistance, food, and seed composition in soybean.  Dr. Katy Martin Rainey is the program leader. 

The Soybean Breeding program develops new varieties of soybeans that contribute to sustainable and profitable agriculture.  High yields and valuable traits contribute to agricultural productivity in Virginia and the U.S.  Farmers plant over 500,000 acres of soybeans in Virginia and soybeans are the state’s most valuable crop, worth ~$100 million.  Soybean varieties must be targeted to specific geographic areas because local growing conditions such as soils, temperature, and rainfall are the primary factors controlling yield in soybean.  This program selects high-yielding varieties through extensive testing in diverse locations in Virginia.  Our primary objective is development of improved, competitive public soybean varieties for Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic region.

Soybean breeding draws on several scientific fields.  Our research projects involve plant pathology to characterize disease resistance, genomic tools to discover DNA markers, elements of chemistry and food science to improve seed composition, quantitative genetics and plant physiology to understand genetic interaction with the environment, agronomy to improve yields, etc.

If you are interested in learning more, becoming a student or working with us, planting our varieties, or collaborating with us, please explore this site and contact Dr. Katy Martin Rainey.

Related Links