New varieties discourage diseases, encourage quality

Bean growers look for a number of attributes in selecting varieties. Attainable yields, of course, rank high. Disease resistance or tolerance and the ability to withstand stress such as drought boosts yields. Reduced pesticide and irrigation requirements increase profit potential. Upright growth habits facilitate mechanical harvesting and avoid prolonged soil contact, cutting both labor and pesticide costs. Breeding programs respond to grower demands.

Breeding efforts also strive to capture quality: distinctive bean flavor; attractive, uniform pods with good color; size, shape and rate of seed development; sieve size; and appropriate amount of fiber for the intended market all contribute to desirability. Some varieties display favorable fresh market traits, while others demonstrate impressive processing characteristics. Many new varieties suit both markets.

Part of the breeding program of Professor Jim Myers at Oregon State University includes improving Blue Lake-type green beans. Upright plants and white mold resistance are sought, along with pod quality, flavor and enhanced nutrition. Another new variety, a processing type, will be released soon.

Dr. Myers notes a movement toward extra fine beans. Joe Butwin, U.S. sales manager for Stokes Seeds, reports a definite trend toward a darker green color. Pure Line Seeds president, William Pfeil, says disease resistance is paramount in both his and European breeding efforts. Quality, however, does not get sacrificed. Barry Rupp, of Rupp Seeds, agrees with these developments and adds that some of their growers who irrigate are turning toward smaller plants.

The following new and relatively new varieties, available by press time, should aid a successful bean-growing season. Dry bean, edible soybean and shell bean research efforts will be covered in a subsequent issue.

Harris Moran’s Boone (HMX 4953) produces heavy yields of three to four-sieve beans on upright plants that set continuously for extended harvests. The attractive, very dark green, straight, smooth, round beans measure 6 inches in length. Seeds develop slowly. Its excellent eating quality, ready in 60 days, should satisfy farmers markets’ clientele. Boone tolerates bean common mosaic virus (BV-1 and NY 15), bean rust, race 2 of halo blight and curly top virus.

Crockett, another high-yielder from Harris Moran, produces a large percentage of two-sieve pods, perfect as a fillet bean. The very dark green, round, slim, 6-inch pods mature in 60 days and hold well. Its continuous set allows hand harvesting over an extended period. In addition, Crockett (HMX 4956) has the same disease tolerances as Boone.

Syngenta designed Duke for the mid-winter planting slot in South Florida. Its large bush provides a strong, robust plant that produces high yields of sieve size 4 beans in 54 days. Its smooth, straight pods measure 6.25 inches, with an intense medium dark green color comparable to Dusky. Duke has high resistance to bean common mosaic virus. South Florida growers can cover the entire season with Duke in midwinter and Dusky in the fall and spring.

Eden produces shiny, green five-sieve pods suitable for the fresh market. From Bakker Brothers’ European breeding program, Eden resists brown spot and common blight.

Bred by Bakker Brothers for processing, Ferrari produces 100 percent three-sieve or less, 5-inch, straight, firm, dark green, glossy pods. This fillet bean also has sturdy foliage and can be used for fresh and garden markets. Maturing in 58 days, Ferrari resists anthracnose, halo blight and bean common mosaic virus. Pure Line Seeds has exclusive Bakker Brothers distribution.

Developed for either freezing or fresh market, Pure Line Seeds’ GB 87 matures in 60 days. It has beautiful 6-inch long, medium dark green pods. This small sieve variety resists bean common mosaic virus, including NY 15, and western yellow blight virus.

GB 88, also bred by Pure Line Seeds, produces heavy yields of four to five-sieve, dark green pods of 5.75 inches in 58 days. This snap bean variety also resists bean common mosaic virus.

Gold Dust (XP 15340806), an attractive wax bean bred by Seminis, features high-quality, yellow pods set high on an upright plant. A high-yielder, Gold Dust produces 35 percent five-sieve pods.

Nash, bred by Syngenta, has performed well in Georgia, as well as regions in the North. This high-yielding fresh market three and a half to four-sieve bean features smooth, straight, 5.75-inch, intense dark green pods. With a concentrated set, it has good stress and heat tolerance. It also has high tolerance to bean common mosaic virus.

A fresh market bean developed by Seminis for shipping, Secretariat has a medium to large determinate plant. Earlier than Bronco, Secretariat has fancy, high-quality, long, straight pods with uniform, dark green color. With high yield potential, Secretariat has shown good adaptability to varied growing conditions. Also, it resists bean common mosaic virus.

Thoroughbred produces smooth, 5.6-inch, medium green pods. This Seminis variety has very high yield potential. Maturing in 53 days, Thoroughbred is especially well suited for south Florida growing. In addition, it resists bean common mosaic virus.

Valentino (XP 15321397) is suitable for fresh market or shipping and has high yield potential. The dark green, straight pods are well positioned in the plant for mechanical harvesting. Developed by Seminis, Valentino has a concentrated pod set, plus it sets well in hot conditions. With 53-day maturity, it resists bean common mosaic virus and has intermediate resistant to rust.

Note: The varieties mentioned by the above breeders are available through their dealers and distributors, most listed on their respective Web sites.

The author is a writer/researcher specializing in agriculture. She may be contacted at