Heirloom dry beans suitable for small-scale organic production

March 28, 2016

Consumer demand for organic heirloom dry beans is on the rise. According to the authors of a new study, the number of acres of land used for certified organic dry bean production has increased significantly in recent years, and a similar trend is occurring across the United States. In a study published in the January 2016 issue of HortScience, researchers Hannah Swegarden, Craig Sheaffer, and Thomas Michaels offer essential recommendations to small-scale vegetable growers about heirloom dry bean cultivar choices for distribution to local markets in Minnesota and the Midwest.

Lead author of the study Hannah Swegarden said that there is a demand among consumers and restaurants for locally produced, organic dry beans. "In particular, there is an expressed demand for heirloom cultivars with identifiable traits, such as cooking quality, flavor, and interesting seedcoats." Looking to inform organic producers interested in meeting consumer demand, the researchers studied seeds of 17 heirloom dry bean cultivars. They conducted experiments over 2 years to determine and yield stability of the bean cultivars. Experimental plots of the beans were established at four locations in Minnesota and Wisconsin: two of the plots were United States Department of Agriculture-certified organic, and two had been managed according to the USDA guidelines for more than 10 years before the experiment. Three commercial market-class bean cultivars were used as controls in the trials.

Results of the field trials showed that the average yield of the commercial bean cultivars was 44% greater than average yield of heirloom cultivars. Among the heirloom varieties, 'Lina Sisco's Bird Egg' and 'Peregion' showed relatively high yields; the authors said these cultivars would be interesting to explore further. "Heirloom cultivars, in particular 'Jacob's Cattle Gold', 'Lina Sisco's Bird Egg', 'Peregion', and 'Tiger's Eye', are suitable for local organic production according to the yield and yield stability analyses we performed," Swegarden said.

"Differences between the yield performance of commercial control cultivars and heirloom cultivars may seem drastic, but, when the economic incentives are considered, heirloom cultivars become a viable marketing option. Our results conclude that heirloom dry beans offer small-scale organic producers economic incentives and a niche in direct-to-consumer markets within the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota regions," the authors said.

Explore further: Participatory breeding program assists organic tomato growers

More information: HortScience, hortsci.ashspublications.org/content/51/1/8.abstract

Related Stories

Best basil varieties for hydroponic greenhouse production

December 21, 2015

As the popularity of fresh culinary herbs increases, growers are looking to year-round production methods to supply distributors and local consumers. In colder climates, culinary herb growers rely on controlled indoor environments ...

Taoyuan No. 3: New high-yield lettuce for subtropical regions

January 13, 2016

Driven by consumer demand for local leafy green vegetables, growers in Taiwan are increasingly interested in producing organic and conventional lettuce in high tunnels. In subtropical regions, growing this cool-season leafy ...

One step closer to commercial edamame production in the US

February 4, 2016

Edamame, touted as a healthy snack for its high protein content, is becoming increasingly popular in the United States. The soybean seeds are consumed at an immature stage, giving a sweet and slightly nutty flavor. Yet, despite ...

Persistence pays off in battle against bean blight

March 10, 2016

Common blight is a devastating bacterial disease. It greatly reduces the yield and quality of bean crops across the world. Conventional breeding techniques can be used to generate cultivars of common bean that are resistant ...

Recommended for you

A new path for killing pathogenic bacteria

August 24, 2016

Bacteria that cause tuberculosis, leprosy and other diseases, survive by switching between two different types of metabolism. EPFL scientists have now discovered that this switch is controlled by a mechanism that constantly ...

Researchers image roots in the ground

August 23, 2016

It's a familiar hazard of vacation time: While you're conspicuously absent, your colleagues in the office forget to water and fertilize the plants - often leaving behind nothing but a brownish skeleton. Whether a plant thrives ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.