Getting Down and Dirty

Let’s talk about sex. Plant sex, that is.

Yes, I know, plants don’t have sex, but the way in which they pollinate makes a lot more sense when we think about it in the same way we think about animal reproduction. For example, when you would like to have a calf, you will take a male and female bovine and put them in the same pen together. If everything goes as planned, the male will successfully deposit semen into the female; then, hopefully, their genetic information will combine to produce offspring.

Soybeans are much like cattle in the sense that there is a male and a female. When cross-pollinating, the female will be a node, or a little green bud on the soybean plant, while the male will be a broad, white or purple flower. Unlike cattle, both the male and female need to be stripped down in order to expose the female pistil and male anther. Then the male needs to be gently rubbed against the female to leave pollen behind. To have pollen soybeans need sunny skies and for the temperature to be above 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Though tedious, crossing soybeans has led to improvements in yield, disease resistance, and overall healthier plants. It allows for the recombination of genetics in order to result in a generation that is stronger, healthier and more productive than the previous. Professor Ted Helms has created over 40 new varieties soybeans since he began working at NDSU in 1986.

Soybeans have become incredibly popular. They are widely used as ingredients in foods such as ice cream treats, cereals, and baked goods. Many of these food products require different varieties of the soybean plant. For this reason, you will find me getting down and dirty in the field, cross pollinating soybean plants.

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The male part of the soybean plant. 

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rofessor Ted Helms has created over 40 new varieties soybeans since he began working at NDSU in 1986.

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Professor Ted Helms has created over 40 new varieties soybeans since he began working at NDSU in 1986.
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Yssi Cronquist is “Down and Dirty” featured writer. Yssi is an Animal Science major at NDSU. Her position in Sigma Alpha is Philanthropy Chairman. 

 

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