Vegetable soybeans (edamame) are not widely consumed outside of East Asia, although they have the potential to be an important world crop.

The lack of consumer experience and high seed costs hinder widespread edamame production, say Washington State University researchers. Edamame seed is expensive due to pod-shatter. When allowed to mature in the field, most of the pods will shatter, dropping their seeds on the ground - even in cool, humid conditions.

In East Asia, seed is traditionally hand-harvested prior to full maturity and allowed to dry where it can then be collected.

The Washington researchers hope to develop shatter-resistant edamame varieties suitable for mechanical harvest. While environment does have an impact on the extent of pod-shatter, genetics are the primary influence, they say.

(T.A. Lumpkin, G.R. Sills, and C.A. Bickle, Washington State University)