Dry Edible Bean Research at the UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center
At the UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center at Scottsbluff, specialists use a team approach into conducting research aimed at benefitting production of dry edible beans and other crops. Scientists at the Panhandle Center conduct research into the following disciplines:
- Dry bean breeding
- Crop Physiology
- Plant pathology
- Weed management
- Insect management
- Machinery systems
- Irrigation systems
- Soil fertility management
- Ag economics
UNL coordinates closely with the dry bean industry, including the Nebraska Dry Bean Commission, the Nebraska Dry Bean Growners Association, dry bean processors, and other related industries. Some of the funding for research comes from dry bean checkoff funds.
UNL has bolstered its dry edible bean breeding program in recent years with the hiring of a dry edible bean breeder based in western Nebraska, and the construction of a molecular laboratory (bottom photo) and a greenhouse (top photo) to further enhance our ability to conduct research.
Reports on research conducted by UNL:
Improving dry bean production systems under limited irrigation by integrating variety drought tolerance, plant phenology and soil water based irrigation scheduling, and alleviation of soil compaction: Progress report to Anna Elliot Fund
UNL Dry bean breeding specialist Carlos Urrea (left) and Phil Miklas of the USDA Agricultural Research Service look over one of more than 300 lines of dry beans in the plots near Mitchell.
UNL bean plots part of worldwide effort to improve crop
September 16, 2011
After harvest, some of the dry edible beans from the plots at the University of Nebraska Panhandle Research and Extension Center are bound for laboratories in Texas and Michigan.
It’s part of a program to improve worldwide dry bean production. Mapping beans’ gene sequence is one piece of the effort. Scientists also are comparing drought resistance, nutritional value and disease among hundreds of cultivars, present, past and in the process of development for the future.
Just before harvest, some of the UNL plots were inspected by UNL dry bean breeding specialist Dr. Carlos Urrea and one of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s top bean scientists.
Working with Urrea was Dr. Phillip N. Miklas of Prosser, Wash., research geneticist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. Miklas also is president of the Bean Improvement Cooperative, a voluntary and informal organization working for the exchange of information and materials for the improvement of bean production worldwide. Members include scientists, students, private organizations and lay people.
Miklas was at the Panhandle Center Sept. 12 with UNL Dry Bean Breeding Specialist Dr. Carlos Urrea to inspect plots with more than 300 lines of dry edible beans involved in the BeanCAP project. CAP stands for Coordinated Agricultural Projects. One of BeanCAP’s goals is developing genomic tools and the genetic sequence for dry beans.
Miklas said several other major crops, such as rice and corn, have already been genetically sequenced, and now it’s dry beans’ turn.
Several factors are driving the increased interest in improving production of dry beans, Miklas said. More people are recognizing their health benefits, including high fiber, low fat, and several important nutrients. Some types of bean also help lower cholesterol. Dry beans also are on the lists of crops needing improvement for the Feed the Future Project, a U.S. government global hunger and food security initiative, Miklas said.
Miklas and Urrea were inspecting the plots for maturity stage and uniformity, yield potential, and diseases.
After harvest, the 300-plus lines in the Scottsbluff plots will be tested for nutritional content and the effects of drought stress. Beans that were stressed will be compared with others that were fully watered. Seed will be tested in USDA-ARS laboratories at Baylor University and Michigan State University. The testing will measure iron and zinc content, and use genetic tools and sequencing to check for differences and determine which genes influence levels of these and other micronutrients.
Similar plots with many bean varieties are being grown in Colorado, North Dakota, Michigan and Puerto Rico, Miklas said. He noted that Urrea has the ability to screen all the beans in the Scottsbluff plots for diseases.
The 300-plus varieties represent U.S.-bred cultivars from the 1930s to new lines that haven’t yet been release for commercial production. The majority of the lines were bred in Idaho, Colorado, Nebraska, North Dakota, Washington and Michigan. Some were bred in other states and Canada.
Studying many varieties that have been developed over a long period allows scientists to look at the U.S. breeding program over time, and whether it has made genetic gains in yield, Miklas said.