Early Named Soybean Varieties in the United States and Canada (1890-2013)

William Shurtleff, Akiko AoyagiISBN: 978-1-928914-60-0

Publication Date: 2013 Oct. 12

Number of References in Bibliography: 2119

Earliest Reference: 1890

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Background: The soybean was introduced to North America in 1765 by Samuel Bowen, a seaman employed by the East India Company, who brought soybeans to Savannah, The Colony of Georgia, from China via London (Hymowitz & Harlan 1983). The second soybean introduction to North America was by Benjamin Franklin. In 1770 he sent seeds from London to the botanist John Bartram in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1851 the soybean was introduced to Illinois (via California), and thence to the rest of the Corn Belt by Benjamin Franklin Edwards (Hymowitz 1987). By the year 1889 there were only a small number of soybean varieties in North America and none of them had names.
In 1890 C.C. Georgeson et al. described four soy beans, two of which he had brought to Kansas from Japan where he had been a professor. Two of the soy beans had Japanese names and two had descriptive / generic English names.
Also in 1890 William P. Brooks described two soja beans which he had brought to Massachusetts from Japan. One soy bean variety had a Japanese name and one had a descriptive / generic English name.
The main contributions of this book are to clarify (1) the earliest known date that each new, named soybean variety was mentioned in print or old letters, and (2) the relative importance of early named varieties based on how often each was mentioned in the literature. Working over several decades, we have searched our SoyaScan database of more than 90,000 records to find the earliest date mentioned. Moreover, we carefully cite the source of our information on each variety.
Which old soybean varieties are mentioned most often in the literature? The following is a list of the number of different documents in this book in which the most popular varieties are mentioned – in descending order of popularity:
      Ito San – 420
      Manchuria – 324
      Mammoth Yellow – 303
      Peking – 246
      Virginia – 241
      Hollybrook – 234
      Haberlandt – 232
      Wilson – 231
      Biloxi – 221
      Medium Green – 199
      Otootan – 173
What is a variety? All soybeans are members of the same genus and species – Glycine max (L.) Merr. However, just as there are many types of apples (Granny Smith, McIntosh, Golden Delicious), so there are many varieties (called “cultivars” – cultivated varieties – by professionals) of soybeans – each having slightly different characteristics and germplasm. Only the most promising or widely cultivated varieties are given names. Varieties can be crossed by traditional plant breeders to create new varieties with desired traits. For example, a gene for drought resistance can be backcrossed into a high-yielding variety.
Do most soybeans have yellow seed coats? No. The wild ancestors of the soybean all have black seed coats. Since the late 1970s, almost all the soybeans in the USA have had yellow seed coats. Most Americans, including soybean farmers, have never heard of soybeans that were black, green, brown, white, red, bicolored, or mottled. But have yellow soybeans always predominated in America?
"Previous to the numerous introductions by the United States Department of Agriculture beginning in 1898, not more than eight varieties of soy beans were grown in the United States, namely, Ito San, Mammoth, and Butterball, with yellow seeds; Buckshot and Kingston, with black seeds; Guelph or Medium Green, with green seeds; and Eda and Ogemaw, with brown seeds." Thus of these eight pre-1898 varieties, 3 varieties (37.5%) had yellow seeds, 2 varieties (25%) had black seeds, 2 varieties (25%) had brown seeds, and 1 variety (12.5%) had green seeds (Piper & Morse 1910).
The following table shows the earliest known date that each early, named soybean variety was mentioned in print or old letters, followed (if known) by the color of the seedcoat / seed and hilum (seed scar). Our focus is on those mentioned before 1924, but we include those named later if they are large seeded or specialty varieties (e.g., high protein). Notice that many early soybean names describe the time of maturity (early, medium early, etc), the color of the seed, and/or the seed size. This table also cites key publications about soybean varieties.
1890 Dec. Yellow Soy Bean – Yellow
1890 Dec. Eda Mame – Yellow (straw), hilum pale
1890 Dec. Kiyusuke Daizu
1891 Yamagata Cha-daidzu – Brown
1892 Green Samarow – Green
1892 Apr. Medium Early White
1892 Apr. Medium White
1892 Apr. Medium Black – Black
1892 Apr. Medium Green – Green (chromium)
1894 Early White – Yellow (straw), hilum pale
1896 Extra Early Dwarf – Brown (chocolate)
1896 Jan. American Coffee Bean
1897 Mar. Medium Early Black – Black
1897 Mar. Medium Early Green – Green
1897 Medium Late Black – Black
1897 fall – The Section of Foreign Seed and Plant Introduction (FSPI) is organized within the USDA in Washington, DC, with David Fairchild in charge. Its mission is to centralize introduction activities. The new Section is within the Seed Division. On 22 March 1898 Congress allocates $20,000 for the collection, purchase, testing, and preparation of foreign seeds, plants, bulbs, shrubs, and trees.
1898 – The Section soon began publishing its periodical Foreign Seeds and Plants Imported by the Section of Seed and Plant Introduction – the single best source of information on early soybean introductions to the USA. A permanent sequential S.P.I. number was assigned to each new seed or plant introduced. The earliest Seed and Plant Inventory numbers for "Glycine hispida - Soja bean" are #480 (received March 1898 through Prof. N.E. Hansen, from South Ussurie, Siberia) and #647-56 (received March 4, 1898, through Hon. A.E. Buck, from Tokyo, Japan). Over the next century many new soybean varieties entered the USDA through this route, each bearing an S.P.I. number. All were tested (mostly at USDA plant introduction gardens) for their adaptability to U.S. growing conditions. Only the most promising were given a name.
1899 Dec. Early Dwarf
1899 Dec. Late Mammoth
1900 Black – Black (shiny)
1900 Yellow
1900 Mar. Early Yellow – Yellow (straw), hilum pale
1901 Mar. Asahi
1901 Mar. Best Green – Yellow (olive), hilum pale
1901 Mar. Nalrade
1901 Mar. Tamarat Sukun
1902 Early Green – Green
1902 Feb. Mammoth – Yellow (straw), hilum tawny
1902 Apr. Medium Early Yellow – Yellow (straw)
1902 Apr. Extra Early Black – Black
1902 Apr. Ito San – Yellow (straw), hilum pale
1902 Apr. Early Black – Black
1902 Apr. Bakaziro/Bakajiro – Yellow (straw)
1902 Apr. Gosha – Yellow (straw)
1902 Apr. Green Medium – Yellow (greenish or olive), hilum pale
1902 Apr. Rokugatsu
1902 Apr. Black Round
1902 Apr. Yoshioka
1903 Olive Medium – Olive, shading to brown
1903 Wisconsin Black – Black, hilum black
1903 Apr. Medium Yellow – Yellow (straw)
1903 June Early Brown – Brown (auburn / reddish brown)
1904 Hankow – Brown with black banding or mottling, hilum black
1904 Ogemaw – Brown (chocolate)
1904 Jan. Mammoth Yellow – Yellow (straw)
1904 Mar. Flat Black
1904 Mar. Green
1905 Hollybrook Early – Yellow (straw), hilum tawny to cinnamon brown
1906 June Hollybrook – Yellow (straw), hilum tawny
1907 Mar. Very Dwarf Brown – Brown
1907 May Amherst – Yellow (straw)
1907 May Baird – Brown
1907 May Brownie – Brown
1907 May Buckshot – Black
1907 May Butterball – Yellow
1907 May Ebony – Black
1907 May Eda – Brown
1907 May Flat King – Black
1907 May Guelph – Green (chromium)
1907 May Haberlandt – Yellow (straw), hilum dusty brown
1907 May Kingston – Black
1907 May Large Black – Black
1907 May Manhattan – Yellow (straw)
1907 May Meyer – Black and Brown in concentric bands or mottling
1907 May Nuttall – Black
1907 May Riceland – Black
1907 May Samarow – Green
1907 May Tokyo or Tokio – Yellow (olive), hilum pale
1907 May Yosho – Yellow (olive)
1907 May 27 – “Soy Bean Varieties,” by Carleton R. Ball is published in USDA Bureau of Plant Industry, Bulletin No. 98. 30 p. This publication started a new system for naming soybeans, giving them common names such as Buckshot, Ogemaw, and Ito San. It first classified and then described all of the 23 known soybeans that had a name, first by color (there were 6 black and 6 yellow varieties), within color by seed size, and within seed size by maturity. This is the earliest document seen which tries to standardize early soybean varietal names / nomenclature to prevent confusion. It also gives a list of 29 synonyms, and of 86 S.P. I. numbers. Four full-page photos show the pods (side view) and seeds (side and front views) of (typically) five soybean varieties.
1907 Dec. Acme – Yellow (straw)
1908 Brown – Brown
1908 Mar. Medium Brown – Brown
1908 Apr. Tashing – Green (chromium)
1908 July Shanghai – Black
1908 July Edward – Yellow (straw)
1909 Mar. Sherwood – Yellow (straw)
1909 Mar. Wilson – Black (jet), hilum black
1909 Mar. Cloud – Black
1909 Mar. Jet – Black
1909 Mar. Duggar – Brown (olive)
1909 Apr. Austin – Yellow (olive)
1909 Apr. Morse – Yellow (olive), hilum tawny to brown
1909 Apr. Brooks – Yellow (straw)
1909 Apr. Brindle – Brown and black
1909 Apr. Chestnut – Brown (russet)
1909 Apr. Habaro – Yellow (straw), hilum dusky brown
1909 Apr. Hongkong – Black
1909 Apr. Hope – Yellow (olive)
1909 Apr. Merko – Brown (olive)
1909 Apr, Pingsu – Black
1909 Apr. Shingto (Yellow (olive)
1909 Apr. Taha
1909 Oct. 7 – “Soy Beans,” by Piper & Nielsen is published as Farmers’ Bulletin (USDA) No. 372. 26 p. It describes 12 soy bean varieties, and states that USDA has tested nearly 200 soy bean varieties during the past three years.
1910 Mongol – Yellow to olive green
1910 Wing’s Mikado
1910 Wing’s Mongol
1910 Wing’s Sable
1910 Apr. Hansen – Brown
1910 Dec. Arlington – Black
1910 Dec. Auburn – Black, hilum pale
1910 Dec. Barchet – Brown (olive)
1910 Dec. Chernie – Black
1910 Dec. Columbia – Green (chromium)
1910 Dec. Elton – Yellow (straw), hilum pale
1910 Dec. Fairchild – Black
1910 Dec. Farnham – Yellow (straw)
1910 Dec. Flava – Yellow (straw)
1910 Dec. Lowrie – Yellow (olive)
1910 Dec. Morgan – Yellow (olive)
1910 Dec. Natsu – Yellow (straw)
1910 Dec. Nemo – Yellow (olive)
1910 Dec. Nielson – Yellow (olive)
1910 Dec. Nigra – Black
1910 Dec. Okute or O’Kute – Yellow (olive)
1910 Dec. Sedo – Brown (deep)
1910 Dec. Stuart – Yellow (olive)
1910 Dec. Swan – Yellow (straw)
1910 Dec. Trenton – Brown
1910 Dec. Vireo – Yellow (olive)
1910 Dec. Peking – Black
1910 Dec. 21 – “The Soy Bean: History, Varieties, and Field Studies,” by Piper & Morse is published in USDA Bureau of Plant Industry, Bulletin No. 197. 84 p. This is the most important document ever published on early soybean varieties in the USA.
1911 Wing’s Extra Select Sable – Black
1912 Feb. Sooty – Black (rusty), hilum black.
1913 Early Dwarf Green – Green
1913 Mar. Mikado – Yellow (straw), hilum cinnamon brown
1913 Oct. Kentucky
1914 O.A.C. 81
1914 Quebec No. 537
1914 Quebec No. 92 – Yellow, hilum dark
1914 Mar. Perley’s Mongol
1914 Mar. Otootan – Black, hilum black
1914 Dec. Edna – Black
1914 Dec. Ohio 9035
1914 Dec. Tarheel – Black, hilum black
1914 Dec. Claud
1915 Jan. Biloxi – Brown (chocolate)
1915 Apr. Manchu – Yellow (straw), hilum black
1915 May Black Eyebrow – Black, hilum brown
1915 June Tarheel Black – Black, hilum black
1915 July Virginia – Brown (olive)
1916 Jan. Wing’s Pedigreed Sable – Black
1916 Apr. Ohio 9001 – Yellow
1916 Apr. Manchuria
1916 Apr. Ohio 9016 – Yellow
1916 June Chiquita – Yellow (straw), hilum cinnamon brown
1916 Sept. White Eyebrow – Brown (olive)
1916 Dec. Lexington – Yellow (olive), hilum tawny
1917 Apr. A.K. – Yellow (straw), hilum pale
1918 Black Ebony – Black
1918 July Hahto – Yellow (olive), hilum black
1918 July Wilson-Five – Black
1918 July Yokoten – Yellow (straw), hilum cinnamon brown
1918 July – “The Soy Bean: Its Culture and Uses,” by W.J. Morse is published in Farmers’ Bulletin (USDA) No. 973. 32 p. It describes 22 varieties of soybeans.
1919 Jan. Hoosier
1919 Jan. Mandarin – Yellow (straw), hilum pale
1919 Jan. O.A.C. 111 – Yellow (straw), hilum pale
1919 Jan. Easycook or Easy Cook – Yellow (straw), hilum cinnamon brown
1919 June Mammoth Brown – Brown (russet)
1920 Mar. Minnesota 166 and 167
1920 June Kentucky A
1920 July Patuxent – Yellow
1921 Mar. Saskatoon – Yellow
1921 Apr. Askarben – Yellow (straw), hilum pale
1921 Apr. Soysota
1921 Apr. Minsoy – Yellow (straw), hilum cinnamon brown
1921 May Dunfield – Yellow (straw), hilum light brown
1921 May Pinpu
1921 May Wea – Yellow (straw), hilum dark olive
1921 Sept. Indiana Hollybrook – Yellow (straw), hilum tawny
1922 Nov. O.A.C. 211 – Yellow
1922 Dec. Midwest – Yellow (straw), hilum tawny to cinnamon brown
1923 Feb. Southern Prolific – Yellow (straw), hilum light brown
1923 Feb.The Soybean, by Piper & Morse is published. This is the first comprehensive book about the soybean written in English, and the most important book on soybeans and soyfoods written up to this time. It describes 43 soybean varieties and lists 7 synonyms.
1923 Mar. Hamilton – Brown or auburn (reddish brown)
1923 Mar. Hurrelbrink
1927 April – Soy Beans: Culture and Varieties, by W.J. Morse is published as Farmer’ Bulletin (USDA) No. 1520. 34 p. It describes 59 soybean varieties and lists 44 synonyms.
1929 Sept. Laredo – Black
1935 Aug. Rokusun (large seeded) – Yellow (straw), hilum brown
1935 Aug. – "Green vegetable Soybeans," by W.J. Morse, is published in Proceedings of the American Soybean Association (p. 44-45). This is the earliest document seen that mentions large-seeded, vegetable-type soybeans in the USA.
1936 Mar. Bansei (large seeded) – Yellow (straw), hilum pale / colorless to light
1936 Mar. Chusei (large seeded) – Yellow (straw), hilum yellow
1936 Apr. Chame (large seeded) – Brown, hilum brown
1936 Apr. Fuji (large seeded) – Green, hilum black
1936 Apr. Goku (large seeded) – Yellow (straw), hilum yellow
1936 Apr. Hakote (large seeded) – Yellow (olive), hilum black
1936 Apr. Higan (large seeded) – Yellow (straw), hilum brown
1936 Apr. Hiro (large seeded) – Black
1936 Apr. Hokkaido (large seeded) – Yellow, hilum, colorless
1936 Apr. Jogun (large seeded) – Yellow (straw), hilum pale / colorless
1936 Apr. Kanro (large seeded) – Yellow (straw), hilum pale to brown
1936 Apr. Kura (large seeded) – Black plus olive yellow, hilum black
1936 Apr. Nanda (large seeded) – Yellow (straw), hilum pale
1936 Apr. Osaya (large seeded) – Yellow (straw), hilum yellow
1936 Apr. Sato (large seeded) – Black, hilum black
1936 Apr. Shiro (large seeded) – Yellow (olive), hilum brown or black
1936 Apr. Sousei (large seeded) – Yellow (olive), hilum brown
1936 Apr. Suru (large seeded) – Yellow (straw)
1936 Apr. Toku (large seeded) – Yellow (straw), hilum brown
1936 Apr. Waseda (large seeded) – Yellow (straw), hilum pale to brown
1936 April – “Soybean introductions named in January 1936,” W.J. Morse issued as a 2-page leaflet by USDA Bureau of Plant Industry, Division of Forage Crops and Diseases. The named introductions include 20 new large-seeded vegetable-type soybeans. Dorsett and Morse obtained most of these in Japan during their trip to Asia in 1929-1931.
1937 Agate (large seeded) – Yellow (straw) and brown, hilum brown
1937 Aug. Giant Green (large seeded) – Green, hilum black
1937 Sept. Funk Delicious (large seeded) – Yellow (straw), hilum pale
1938 May Illington (large seeded)
1938 May Imperial (large seeded) – Yellow (straw), hilum pale
1938 May Tortoise Egg (large seeded)
1938 May Willomi (large seeded) – Yellow (straw), hilum pale-brown
1938 May – “A study of Soybeans with Reference to their Use as Food,” by Woodruff and Klass is published as Illinois Agricultural Experiment Station, Bulletin No. 443 (p. 421-67). In it they list 17 soybean varieties, six of which showed special merit for table use. Four are new large-seeded vegetable-type soybeans.
1938 Sept. Sioux (large seeded) – Yellow (olive), hilum black
1938 Sept. Aoda (large seeded) – Green, hilum light brown
1939 Mar. Emperor (large seeded) – Yellow (straw), hilum light brown
1939 March – “Eighteen varieties of Edible Soybeans: Their Adaptability, Acceptability and Characteristics,” by Lloyd and Burlison is published as Illinois Agricultural Experiment Station, Bulletin No. 453 (p. 385-439). This is the most complete and interesting report on this subject published up to this time.
1941 July Etum or Eatum (large seeded) – Yellow (straw), hilum light brown
1941 July Green and Black (large seeded) – Green and/or black
1941 July Jackson (large seeded) – Green, with black hilum and green cotyledons
1941 July Jefferson (large seeded)
1941 July Kanum (large seeded) – Yellow (straw), hilum light brown
1941 July Sac (large seeded) – Yellow (olive), hilum black
1941 July Seminole (large seeded) – Yellow (straw), hilum brown
1941 July Tastee (large seeded) – Yellow (olive), hilum black
1941 July Wolverine (large seeded) – Yellow (straw), hilum pale to light brown
1941 July Yellow Marvel (large seeded) – Yellow
1941 July – “Shanghaied… a Super Food,” by W.J. Morse is published in Soybean Digest (p. 4-5, 10). The “super food” is green vegetable soybeans from large-seeded edible-type soybeans. A table shows 42 “edible varieties classified according to maturity.” Ten of these are first mentioned here.
1942 Apr. Cherokee (large seeded) – Green, hilum brown
1943 Mendota (large seeded) – Yellow (straw), hilum light brown to brown
1945 Jan. Sanga (large seeded)
1945 June Delsoy (large seeded) – Yellow (straw), hilum dark brown
1948 May – “Soybean Varietal Names Used to Date,” by W.J. Morse is published as Appendix to the mimeographed report of the Fourth Work Planning Conference of the North Central States Collaborators of the U.S. Regional Soybean Laboratory, Urbana, Illinois. RSLM 148 (9 p.). A treasure trove of soybean variety names, P.I. numbers, and synonyms
1948 Aug. – “Soybean Varieties: Descriptions, Synonyms and Names of Obsolete or Old and Seldom Grown Varieties,” by USDA Production and Marketing Administration [Grain Branch] is published as a 25-page booklet. It contains: Description of varieties (129 varieties). Synonyms of variety names (120 synonyms). Obsolete or old or seldom grown varieties (149 varieties).
1949 – The Soybean Germplasm Collection is established in two locations: Urbana, Illinois and Stoneville, Mississippi. The objective is "to collect and maintain all significantly different soybean strains from throughout the world…" "Prior to 1949 no consistent attempt was made to preserve soybean germplasm, and many introductions and old domestic varieties were discarded." "A total of 1,524 PI strains or domestic varieties derived from PI strains were recovered and are now in the collection. This compares with 7,867 introductions made from 1898 to 1944." The collection is divided into six parts, including wild soybeans and perennial Glycine species (Bernard et al. 1987. p. 1).
1953 June Harosoy (large seeded)
1956 Apr. Kanrich (large seeded) – Yellow, hilum yellow
1956 Apr. Kim (large seeded) – Green with black hilum
1967 Feb. Disoy (large seeded) – Yellow, hilum yellow
1967 Feb. Magna (large seeded) – Yellow
1967 Feb. Prize (large seeded) – Yellow, hilum pale/clear
1967 May Verde (large seeded) – Green, hilum light buff, with green cotyledons
1969 May Provar (high protein) – Yellow (dull), hilum brown and large
1969 Aug. Protana (high protein) – Yellow (shiny), with imperfect black hilum
1970 Feb. Kahala (large seeded)
1970 Feb. Kaikoo (large seeded)
1970 Feb. Kailua (large seeded)
1970 Feb. Mokapu Summer (large seeded)
1975 July Emerald (large seeded) – Green (green cotyledons), hilum black
1976 Apr. Grande (large seeded) – Yellow (light with dull luster), hilum light tan
1977 Maple Arrow – Yellow
1978 Oct. Vinton (large seeded) – Yellow (dull), hilum yellow
1981 Aug. Vinton 81 (large seeded) – Yellow (dull), hilum yellow
1984 Dec. – “Dorsett-Morse soybean collection trip to East Asia: 50 year retrospective,” by Theodore Hymowitz is published in Economic Botany (p. 378-88). The two plant explorers collected 4,451 soybean accessions and sent them to the USA to be given SPI numbers. Until about 1950 the collection was used primarily for the development of vegetable type soybean cultivars. During this period many of the accessions were lost. As of 1984 only 945 of the original 4,451 accessions are available in the United States soybean germplasm collection. The entire trip cost about $25,000 – an investment that has repaid itself many times over.
1986 Jan. Merrimax (large seeded) – Yellow (glossy), hilum buff
1988 Oct. – "Origins and Pedigrees of Public Soybean Varieties in the United States and Canada," by Richard L. Bernard et al. is published as USDA Technical Bulletin No. 1746. 68 p. Excellent – maybe the single best work on this subject. Tables 3 and 4 (p. 4-30) correspond to the information in this book, however the “Year named or released” is not nearly as accurate as the dates given in the present book.
1989 Nov. Harovinton (large seeded) – Yellow (dull), hilum yellow
1991 Apr. Proto (high protein) – Yellow (dull), hilum buff
2000 May Gardensoy (large seeded) – Green


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