DES MOINES -- A review of historical U.S. soybean yield gains confirms that new molecular breeding tools are increasing the pace at which farmers can increase the amount of soybeans harvested from an acre.

Researchers at DuPont subsidiary Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. found that yields of Pioneer(R) brand soybean varieties developed with proprietary genetic markers improved yield three times faster than the USDA industry average.

"The data clearly demonstrates that genetic markers have incredible potential to increase soybean yields at accelerated rates," said John Soper, Pioneer soybean research director. "They are going to go a long way in helping growers produce enough soybeans for new food, fuel and industrial applications."

The study compared key Pioneer(R) brand soybean varieties developed using molecular marker technology with soybean varieties developed without molecular markers, then compared the respective yield increases against USDA industry data over the past 30 years.

Varieties developed with molecular markers averaged yield increases of 1.4 bushels per acre per year during the past seven years, beginning with the first year of introduction. Non-Marker-Assisted Selection Pioneer varieties improved yields over a 10-year period at a rate of 0.5 bushels per acre per year, while USDA soybean yield figures show yields grow at a rate of 0.4 bushels per acre per year.

"The study confirmed what our customers have been telling us with their purchasing decisions," said Soper. "Pioneer is outpacing the competition for soybean yield increases while improving the defensive trait characteristics of its lineup."

An early adopter of molecular breeding techniques, Pioneer has improved its industry-leading U.S. soybean market share by six points in the past five years.

Molecular markers allow plant breeders to screen millions of plants for genes that already exist within the plant and contribute to increased yield potential and stability. Only plants that carry the key traits are used to develop new products.

Pioneer increased soybean yields in the past 10 years by focusing on traits that made the plants resistant to pests and diseases -- soybean cyst nematode, Phytophthora and brown stem rot -- that kept the varieties from yielding to their full potential.

Marker technology was utilized in the development of Pioneer(R) brand soybean variety 94M80, the soybean variety that broke the world soybean yield record this year. The Missouri Soybean Association announced yesterday that Missouri farmer Kip Cullers achieved a 139 bushel per acre yield, setting a new world record.

In addition to new markers for other pests and agronomic traits, the company is employing markers to develop varieties for specific end-uses like its Treus(TM) oil from low linolenic soybeans for improved cardiovascular health. The company is also applying the technology to develop new corn hybrids and seed for other crops.

Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc., a subsidiary of DuPont, is the world's leading source of customized solutions for farmers, livestock producers and grain and oilseed processors. With headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa, Pioneer provides access to advanced plant genetics, crop protection solutions and quality crop systems to customers in nearly 70 countries.

DuPont is a science-based products and services company.

SOURCE: Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. news release.