By the UF/IFAS Edamame Research Team

For the past 25 years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agriculture Research Service and University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences have been developing vegetable soybean lines, known as edamame, adapted for the southern United States.

Research at the North Florida Research and Education Center has been conducted by a multi-disciplinary team that has been working together on all aspects of edamame production, from development to end-user applications.

“The edamame research is a great example of a team of researchers and extension faculty working together to introduce a new crop to vegetable producers,” said George Hochmuth, center director. “The team consists of a crop breeder, a production specialist and an extension agent, who is interested in the end use of the product. You have the entire spectrum covered from variety development to culinary use of the product.”

The UF/IFAS edamame lines were selected for pod yield, disease resistance, determinant growth habit, enhanced flavor and isoflavone chemistry. Isoflavone content, while beneficial to health, contributes to the bitter off-taste commonly found in standard soybean varieties. Decreasing the bitter flavor without eliminating the isoflavone content of the seed has been a focus.

Currently there are three experimental breeding lines at the center in Quincy. Two experimental lines are black-seeded and one is white-seeded. More than 100 additional breeding lines also are being evaluated for desirable flavor, seed yield, hila color and pest resistance. The center plans to release several cultivars for commercial production in the southern United States in 2006.

Vegetable soybeans are growing increasingly popular as a healthy snack or vegetable because of the benefits associated with lowering cholesterol, increasing dietary fiber and contribution of natural isoflavones to diets.

“This nutritious bean is great tasting and good for you,” said Monica Brinkley, the UF/IFAS Cooperative Extension Director for Liberty County. “Edamame contains isoflavone, which has been shown to have heart health benefits, containing about 38 percent protein, and is also rich in calcium, vitamin A and phytoestrogens.”

When compared with commercially available vegetable soybeans presently marketed in the country, Florida-developed lines have superior disease resistance and yield potential for the southeastern United States. Florida experimental vegetable soybean lines are classed as Maturity Group VII and VIII soybeans.

For more information on edamame and recipes, visit


Center updates

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Gulf Coast Research and Education Center

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