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Bean cultivar ready for market
September 22, 2016 Jerry Purvis   

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Jerry Purvis/Gering Citizen Carlos Ureea checks his logbook as his examines how his beans are growing at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center, north of Scottsbluff.

A cultivar variety of Great Northern beans, called Panhandle Pride, will soon be on the market after almost six years of research and testing.

Dr. Carlos Ureea, Dry Bean Breeding Specialist with the University of Nebraska Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff, said the cultivar was developed to produce large, high quality yields that are resistant to the common diseases that plague dry beans. He was in the fields testing some of the plants during his interview, and said he was testing the vines for how well they perform over a wide variety of soil conditions.

Ureea said that with an indoor growing facility, he’s able to produce two generations of dry bean plants a year. Starting with varieties from different geographic areas, he chooses plants with different qualities to see if they can be crossbred into plants that carry all the desirable traits of the preceding generation.

Ureea, who has been with the Panhandle Research Center since 2005, is continuing his earlier work with the breeding and genetics program at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture in Colombia. His work resulted in the release of six small and medium-seeded common dry bean cultivars that possessed multiple-disease resistance for producers in Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia and Mexico.

With an eye toward international markets, Ureea continues to experiment on cultivars that are also heat and drought resistant.

“We could be facing severe drought and water allocation in the future,” he said. “That’s why I started developing cultivars that could grow with less water.”

In cooperation with the University of Puerto Rico, they’ve been able to develop a number of bean lines that are both heat and drought resistant.

“At this point, none of my beans are being grown by producers,” Ureea said. “It’s something that I think will be available in the near future.”

Ureea said that with growing populations demanding more and more water, there could be shortages for agriculture in some parts of the world. His hope is to develop dry edible plants that will produce more yields using less water.

His experiments include different market classes of beans, from Great Northerns, pintos to black, small reds and yellow beans.

“These experiments also have an international component working with other countries,” Ureea said. “This research will help developing countries around the world where drought is already a problem.”

Some of the countries Ureea is working with to develop these new cultivars for their use include Uganda and Mozambique in Africa and Colombia in South America.

He said the experiments are promising. Soon, he will be releasing two cultivars of black beans that have heat and drought tolerance. As coordinator of the National Dry Bean Drought Nursery, he’s been growing those cultivars in Washington, Idaho, Colorado and Nebraska.

In addition to the new black bean cultivars, he’s seeing good results from pintos, Great Northerns, and small reds in early testing.
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