Field day focuses on edamame production, research

Sept. 4, 2012
Contact Information:

Dr. Lanny Ashlock, Assistant Vice President for Special Programs,
University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture & Research Coordinator,
Arkansas and Mid-South Soybean Promotion Board
501-671-2196, lashlock@uaex.edu

Dr. Nilda Burgos, Professor of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences
479-575-3984, nburgos@uark.edu

Dr. Pengyin Chen, Professor of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences
479-575-7564, pchen@uark.edu

Fred Miller, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Communications
479-575-5647, fmiller@uark.edu

Download story
nilda burgos

University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture weed scientist Nilda Burgos describes research to determine which weed control products are suitable for use with edamame.
(Click on image to download full-resolution version.)

visitors hear reports

Visitors to an edamame field day at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture's Vegetable Research Station hear reports from division scientists on breeding, weed control, fertility and other research.
(Click on image to download full-resolution version.)

michael chaney leads tour

Michael Chaney, field representative for American Vegetable Soybean and Edamame, LLC, in Mulberry leads visitors on a tour of the processing plant's chill room, where processed edamame is chilled before being frozen for packaging and shipping.
(Click on image to download full-resolution version.)

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture research, featured at a recent field day, is aimed at helping a targeted group of Arkansas farmers pioneer a new food crop that promises to add a profitable product to the state's agricultural economy.

Lanny Ashlock, assistant vice president for special programs for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said 12 farmers in six Arkansas counties are mid-way through the first harvest of edamame, a vegetable soybean that is growing in popularity in the U.S.

Ashlock, who is also research coordinator for the Arkansas and Mid-South Soybean Promotion Board, spoke to visitors at the Division of Agriculture’s edamame field day, held at the Vegetable Research Station at Kibler Aug. 21.

American Vegetable Soybean and Edamame, Inc., (AVC) of Mulberry contracted with farmers to grow 900 acres of the crop this year. The farmers planted a chinese edamame variety from AVC’s parent company, JYC International of Houston, and UA Kirksey, the first edamame variety bred for Arkansas growing conditions and released last year by the Division of Agriculture.

Ashlock said this inaugural year demonstrated that Arkansas growers can produce 6,000 to 10,000 pounds per acre and that edamame can be mechanically harvested and processed.

Most edamame is grown overseas, especially in China, where it is harvested and processed by hand.

Farmers have discovered that growing edamame is not the same as growing conventional soybeans. Conway County farmer Robert Stobaugh said the biggest challenge was folding a specialty crop into his large-scale commercial operation.

“Edamame being a soybean crop, we thought this would be a snap. We discovered that was not the case,” Stobaugh said. “It requires a higher level of management.”

One of those challenges was weed control. Few herbicides are approved for edamame, Ashlock said, because vegetable soybeans have different residue requirements from conventional soybeans.

Division weed scientist Nilda Burgos said she is running studies of 24 herbicide treatments to test herbicide products and strategies for weed control in edamame. In other tests, the plants were tested for tolerance to soybean herbicides.

Burgos said that although herbicides labeled for edamame were limited in 2012, other products are going through the approval process and were performing well in her research.

“In our tests, edamame acted just like a conventional soybean from a weed control point of view,” Burgos said. “I think we’ll have more options in 2013.”

Field day visitors also saw test plots for insect pest control, breeding and soil fertility.

Soybean breeder Pengyin Chen, who developed UA Kirksey, said his efforts to develop improved varieties were aimed at improving flavor, growing a larger bean and increased nutritional content.

Michael Chaney, AVC field representative, said the Mulberry processing plant plans to open a second shift as edamame acreage expands and more Arkansas farmers begin planting the crop.