Soybeans That Floods Can't Drown

It's too late to save soybeans drowned in the great Midwestern flood of 1993, but farmers may do better in future floods with crossbreeds of a bean from southern China. Nearly all soybeans planted in the U.S. are descended from beans from dry Manchuria. In July, 1990, Tara Tran VanToai, a plant physiologist with the U.S. Agriculture Dept. and Ohio State University, traveled to the wetter Shanghai region in search of a bean that would better withstand immersion. The Yangtze River had just flooded, and the soybean plants at research institutes in the river basin were destroyed. But VanToai found vibrantly healthy plants in Chinese villagers' backyard gardens that also had been flooded. The seeds had been passed down through generations of families.

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