New soybean eyes Japanese market
A new small-seed soybean variety that was developed for the lucrative
Japanese soyfoods market has been released by Agricultural Research Service
Soybean N8101 was developed by geneticist Thomas Carter and agronomist Joseph
Burton at the ARS Soybean and Nitrogen Fixation Research Unit in Raleigh, N.C.
It is currently the smallest soybean variety ever released in the United States.
N8101 has a yellow seed with shiny luster and clear hilum, the scar formed on
the seed when it detaches from the plant. These traits make N8101 physically
appealing for commercial use.
N8101 will be harvested and sent to Japan
to test the market for its use in the popular breakfast food natto, a
traditional dish made from fermented soybeans and normally eaten with rice.
Natto is a rich source of protein, but can be an acquired taste due to its
pungent smell, strong flavor and sticky consistency.
The ability to
absorb water is the first step in the production of natto soyfoods. Although
there is no uniform standard, Japanese natto manufacturers prefer soybeans that
swell to a greater extent because they generally result in a softer final
product. N8101 met this requirement. N8101 also has the potential to be used to
supplement the Korean soybean sprout market.
Land for growing crops is
scarce in Japan. As a result, Japanese soyfood manufacturers look to other
countries to meet their supply needs. The United States is currently one of the
world's largest producers and exporters of soybeans. Last year, the United
States produced more than 72 million metric tons of soybeans, and exported more
than 31 million metric tons. The bulk of the soybean crop is grown for oil
production, with soybean meal used as feed stock. A smaller percentage of the
soybean crop is produced for human consumption.
Seed of this release will
be deposited in the National Plant Germplasm System, where it will be available
for research purposes, including development and commercialization of new
cultivars. A manuscript about the development of N8101 will be published in the
Journal of Plant Registrations.
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