Dry Bean Breeding Project

History, continued

     Don Immediately continued his involvement and cooperation with the USDA on dry bean breeding. In 1957, Dr. Doug Burke was hired as a permanent breeder for the USDA to work at Greeley. However, shortly thereafter, Dr. Burke was transferred by the USDA to Prosser, WA, and the USDA no longer sent breeding material to Colorado. Consequently, Dr. Wood initiated a crossing program with continued emphasis on breeding for improved resistance from other Phaseolus species into pinto beans for disease resistance, especially common bacterial blight resistance. Because, hybrids among species are difficult to obtain, he was among the first to attempt embryo rescue techniques to rescue fertile F1 hybrids. Unfortunately fertile hybrids were never recovered.

      In 1950, Don Wood pursued a PhD at the University of Wisconsin. Don recalled the day he left for Wisconsin to start his studies; “As I was driving out of town, I heard about the invasion of South Korea by North Korea on the radio. Because I had served in the Marine Crops during WWII, I thought that I may as well turn around and return home because I would be recalled to duty. However, I kept on driving and the recalled never occurred.” At the UW, Don studied corn genetics and the genetic mechanism involved in variegated seed color. In 1956, he completed the PhD degree and returned to CSU.

    With the assistance of Mr. Ballarin, the breeding program became computerized and expanded the number of crosses made each year and subsequently the size of the greenhouse and field nurseries. The size of the field nursery went from approximately five acres in the early 1980s top more than twelve acres by 1989. Mr. Ballarin left the University to pursue other career goals in 1989, when Mr. J. Barry Ogg was hired to replace him. Barry continued upgrading computer utilization on the project and by the early 1990’s, the project replaced the use of mainframe computers with desktop computers to keep all records. With Barry’s assistance, the project doubled the number of crosses made each year and included field nurseries at three research stations with more than 18 acres of breeding nurseries at ARDEC in Fort Collins. Ogg continues his work on the project today.

   Dr. Wood released three important pinto varieties that were widely grown under irrigation in the High Plains and western US. The varieties included, “Ouray” in 1975, the first upright growth habit pinto bean; “Olathe” in 1981, the first rust resistant pinto variety; and “Bill Z” in 1985, the most widely grown pinto in the US throughout the 80s and early 90s. These varieties replaced previous pinto varieties that were susceptible to rust and provided a growers with higher yield potential.

   The dryland pinto breeding program in Southwestern Colorado began at Arboles, Colorado during the mid 1950’s. The program continues today at Southwestern Colorado Research Station at Yellow Jacket, CO. This program was initiated in connection with the Dolores River Project to improve bean yields in the San Juan Basin in cooperation with Howard Morre and Adrian Fisher at the research station in Ariola. Crosses for the breeding program were made by Don Wood at Fort Collins, and progeny were evaluated in southwestern Colorado under non-irrigated field conditions. The project released two important varieties including “Cahone” in 1982 and “Fisher” in 1995. Cahone was the first pinto variety to become accepted in San Juan Basin since San Juan select was released in the 1940s. Today, these varieties encompass essentially 100% if the pinto bean acreage in San Juan Basin.

     In 1986, Dr. Wood retired as the leader of the Dry Bean Breeding Project at CSU and Dr. Mark Brick became the project leader. Mark had experience breeding forage crops, particularly alfalfa, and at the time of appointment he served as the Manager of the Colorado Seed Growers Association. The Dry Bean Breeding Program continued emphasis on the improvement of pinto bean varieties that possessed multiple pest resistance for the High Plains and western US. The program initiated crosses for improved varieties in market classes other than pinto bean, specifically black and great-northern beans in 1990. To date, the program released Fisher in 1995, “Montrose” in 1999, “Shiny Crow” in 2000 and “Grand Mesa” in 2001. These varieties represent unique varieties for the high yield potential and possessed a new gene for resistance to the rust pathogen. Shiny Crow was the first black bean variety released in the US that possessed a shiny seed coat rather than the traditional opaque (dull) seed coat luster. The shiny seed coat is a desirable characteristic for dry packaged black beans. Grand Mesa is semi-upright multiple pest-resistant pinto bean that possesses tolerance to rust, bean common mosaic virus, and white mold pathogen, a first in the pinto market class.

      A major influence on Dry Bean Breeding Program in the 1990s and later was the organization of the dry bean industry to provide funding for research program. In 1986, certified seed producers in western Colorado through the Colorado Seed Growers Association agreed to provide a voluntary contribution to the bean research programs at CSU based on certified seed tag sales. These funds enabled the breeding and plant pathology programs to enhance breeding efforts, especially for greenhouse and field screening efforts to improve and broaden resistance to rust and other diseases. Further, in 1991, the Colorado Dry Bean Administrative Committee formed, based upon a statewide commodity, “check-off” on the commercial sale of dry beans. The money was earmarked for use to support dry bean marketing and research in Colorado. These funds enabled the dry bean programs at CSU to improve research efforts in breeding, variety testing, pathology, and Integrated Pest Management. The funds were especially useful for replacing outdated equipment and hiring students to assist with research efforts.

     In 2004, the dry bean research programs at CSU have activities in breeding, variety testing, pathology, seed production, and entomology that take place on campus and at three Agricultural Research Centers throughout Colorado. The emphasis includes breeding, and research to solve environmental, pest, and cultural constraints to production. Scientists cooperating on the dry bean programs today include Drs. Mark A. Brick (breeder) and Jerry Johnson (variety testing), Department of Soil and Crop Sciences; Drs. Howard Schwartz (plant pathology), Scott Nissen (weed science) and Frank Peairs (entomology), Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management; Dr. Calvin Pearson and Fred Judson, Western Colorado Research Center at Fruita; Mark Stack, Southwestern Colorado Research Center, Yellow Jacket; and Dr. Abdel Berrada, Arkansas Valley Research Center, Rocky Ford. Colorado dry bean producers benefit significantly from one of the most diverse and productive dry bean research programs in the US today.

       Very recently the Dry Bean Breeding Project initiated research on the chemical and nutritional composition of dry bean cultivars. Dr. Henry Thompson of the CSU Cancer Prevention Laboratory is collaborating with Dr. Brick to identify bean cultivars and market classes that have maximal health benefits. The research includes laboratory and pre-clinical trials regarding the ability of beans in the diet to influence the development of cancer, diabete4s, and other diseases. Future work will focus on the Identification of the genetic control of the factors that relate to health benefits of bean.