Bean Breeders Converge on Scottsbluff Research Plots - UNL CropWatch, Sept. 7, 2012

Bean Breeders Converge on Scottsbluff Research Plots - UNL CropWatch, Sept. 7, 2012

September 7, 2012

Plant breeders from several states converged on Scottsbluff last week to have a look at the past, present, and future of dry edible bean cultivars.

Dry bean breeders on the 2012 bean breeder tours

Examining the dry bean variety plots at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center at Scottsbluff are (from left): Mark Brick, bean breeder at Colorado State University; Carlos Urrea, dry bean breeding specialist at the Panhandle Center; Shree Singh, dry bean breeder at the University of Idaho; Diego Viteri graduate student from Ecuador; and Tim Porch, USDA geneticist.

Carlos Urrea, dry bean breeding specialist at the UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center, hosted a tour of UNL bean plots for a group of dry bean breeders from around the nation.

The group viewed breeding lines in various market classes, from early generations all the way through lines nearly ready for release as cultivars. Some of the UNL plots are involved in multi-state collaborative bean breeding projects: development of drought and heat tolerance, regional variety trials, long-term assessments of bean breeding progress, and others. Urrea also joined the other plant breeders to tour plots in Idaho several weeks ago and at Colorado State University the day before Scottsbluff.

Among the the scientists were Shree Singh, dry bean breeder with University of Idaho, accompanied by Diego Viteri of Ecuador, a research assistant and Ph.D. student; Tim Porch, a geneticist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Station in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico; and Mark Brick, a dry bean breeder with Colorado State University.

They reviewed the progress of several on-going projects.

The USDA’s Porch said he’s been working with Urrea on developing drought-tolerant dry beans for the past five or six years, introgressing exotic materials from Central and South America into gene-mapping populations at Scottsbluff and Puerto Rico. Porch said he and Urrea evaluate the plots in both locations every year.

The group also evaluated plots in the Western Regional Bean Trials involving Nebraska, Colorado, Idaho, and Washington. The regional trial compares the performance of about 24 varieties of beans under different environments, The varieties include the recent UNL Great Northern release, Coyne, and four others from Nebraska,.

Another regional trial — the Midwest Regional Performance Nursery — includes 27 lines from Nebraska, Michigan, North Dakota, and Colorado. Four of the lines are from Nebraska. Urrea said these have the potential to be released as cultivars and are also being tested in growers’ fields in Nebraska.

The breeders also evaluated the Cooperative Dry Bean Nursery, a national effort that includes one Nebraska line.

Singh, who collaborates with the other breeders on the Western Trial, said Nebraska’s program has made great progress in Urrea’s seven years at Scottsbluff. Historically the Nebraska dry bean breeding program was famous for two market classes of beans, pintos and Great Northerns, Singh said. Urrea has diversified that to add four other market classes, small blacks and reds, light red kidneys and cranberries.

He also has made significant progress in developing plant types in the various market classes with an upright rather than the traditional prostrate plant architecture. Upright plant types more easily allow direct harvest, a one-step process. Singh said Urrea also has developed more lines with medium and early maturity, in addition to the traditional lines of late-maturing beans.

“Generally this type of progress takes 15-20 years, but Carlos has made it in five to six years,” he said.

CSU’s Brick was viewing plots in the Midwest Regional Performance Nursery and in the Western Regional Bean Trial, but also evaluating beans in a study quantifying the long-term genetic gains made by plant breeding in pinto and navy beans. The study compares 20 varieties of each of the two market classes (from 1919 to the present) planted in plots in North Dakota, Colorado, Washington and Nebraska.

“We are quantifying yield gains, disease resistance and other desirable traits in varieties over the long term,” he said. “We are trying to determine what yield gains can be attributed to genetics and breeding over time.”

The results will be published in a book published by the Crop Science Society of America early next year. The book will include results for 12 different crops. It will update a 25-year-old edition.

Viteri, a doctoral student in bean breeding working under Singh, is studying the genetic difference between bean lines mostly related to disease resistance, especially common bacterial blight and white mold. He has been comparing with trials in Idaho, working with disease resistance in different genotypes. Also see how each generation of plants shows different reactions to disease.

David Ostdiek
Communication Specialist, Panhandle REC