Northwest Minnesota variety trial

Another Look in the Field – The Value of Seeing for Ourselves

Several months ago, the production action team was approached by Kendall Nichols, Director of Research Programs for North Dakota Soybean, inviting them and soybean farmers from around the state to participate in a See For Yourself trip to Chile. The trip has been organized and will commence early next year on Jan. 3. For the next eight days, the team will visit and review soybean breeding, soybean production, research and utilization in Chile. 

The Agronomy and Plant Genetics department at the University of Minnesota is currently in the process of hiring a soybean breeder to step into public breeding position that will be vacated when Dr. Jim Orf retires. This program maintains a winter nursery in Chile where an additional generation of soybean genetic lines can be grown and evaluated instead of the limitation of a single growing season in Minnesota.

Dr. Paul Meints

Dr. Paul Meints

The team traveling to Chile will tour this winter nursery as well as that of Dr. Ted Helms, soybean breeder at North Dakota State University, and those of commercial breeding company nurseries, as well.

The value of a see for yourself tour is just that; farmers get to see the impact of their investment in checkoff research, see what soybean production works like in other places, and build relationships with other growers around the world.

Team members will see the progress of the breeding programs of two state universities funded by two state checkoffs, as well as the winter nurseries of commercial companies releasing lines for production in the upper Midwest.

Our growers will get a first look at what new genetics is in the breeding pipeline to address the current and expected needs in Minnesota production and the region. A view of the production systems, research and utilization in Chile will give us further insight into how the Chilean agriculture system compares with us in terms of the value and volume we must compete with in the world market.

Our Chile team includes MSR&PC Chairman, Paul Simonsen from Renville county, MSGA Director and Production Action Team member Cecil Deschene from Marshall county, MSGA Director Nick Bjornberg from Kandyohi county, ASA-DuPont Young Leader Aaron Yaggie from Pennington/Red Lake county, and MSGA member and Minnesota Independent Crop Consultant Van Larson.

This team will return with a better understanding of how Minnesota checkoff continues to develop strong genetics and germplasm for Minnesota growers. They will also see what is new in commercial lines for our growers and how we measure against soybean growers across the world. We look forward to their return to hear what they have learned that will help us improve our soybean production and market competitiveness.

Dr. Paul Meints is the Director of Research at Minnesota Soybean and has an MS in plant breeding and genetics and a PhD in Seed Physiology. Email him at