Edamame, also known as vegetable soybean, refers to immature soybeans in the pod, typically served in Japanese and other Asian cuisines. Production in Ontario has gone up in recent years in response to the increasing popularity of edamame with Canadian consumers. In 2013, an estimated 500 acres of edamame were grown in Ontario. One of the most common questions we receive from interested growers is what pest control products can be applied to edamame. Edamame is essentially soybean that is harvested earlier in the season than field soy, so wouldn’t any product labelled for soybean be okay for edamame? The answer, unfortunately, is no.
While edamame is Glycine max, the same as conventional soybean, it is harvested much earlier (typically 75-90 days after seeding, compared to 115-130 days for field soy) and the end use – fresh market consumption – is very different than that of conventional field soy, which is generally dried and processed. Furthermore plant varieties used for edamame production are generally different than those used for conventional soy. These differences mean that the various factors used to evaluate pesticides for registration (such as residues, crop tolerance and occupational exposure) may be quite different on edamame compared to soybean, and this is why the suite of products approved for conventional soy do not necessarily apply to edamame.
So how does a grower know what products can be applied to edamame? For the purpose of pest control product registration, federal regulators, including Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), consider edamame to be “soybean (immature seed)”. This falls into Crop Group 6 – Legume Vegetables, and Crop Subgroup 6A – Edible-Podded Legume Vegetables in PMRA’s residue chemistry crop groups.
If a product label only says “soybean”, then the product can only be applied to soybeans that will be harvested as a dry bean and NOT to edamame. If the label says “soybean – immature seed”, Crop Group 6, or Crop Group 6A, then the product can be applied to soybeans for which the immature seed is to be harvested – a.k.a. edamame.
A quick search of the PMRA’s product label search (http://pr-rp.hc-sc.gc.ca/ls-re/index-eng.php) reveals that many of the products familiar to soybean growers (e.g. Cruiser, Lagon, Sencor) are NOT registered for use on edamame. There are still some fungicides and insecticides registered on edamame, but the list is somewhat different than the one for field soybean. Herbicides are a different matter – there do not appear to be any herbicides currently registered on edamame. OMAF and MRA staff are working with the federal government to address this, however at present herbicide options for edamame are limited.
The bottom line – don’t assume that if a product is registered on soybean it is okay for edamame. Always check the label and confirm it can be used on the immature seed.