Exotic Beans Provide New
By Kathryn Barry
June 14, 2000
Bean growers and consumers may benefit
from a collaboration between the Agricultural Research Service in Prosser,
Wash., and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, or
CIAT, in Cali, Colombia.
Instead of kidney or navy beans, growers may tap new export markets by growing
Mexican Bayo, Brazilian Jalinho or other bean market
classes popular in Latin America and the Caribbean.
CIAT develops breeding materials for farmers in those countries. ARS
geneticist Phillip Miklas has evaluated much of CIATs germplasm to find
breeding lines suitable for U.S. growers. Researchers at
Colorado State University in Ft.
Collins and the University of Idaho in
Kimberly also collaborate on the project.
The team has found germplasm in at least nine market classes that show
promise for this countrys cooler climates and longer day lengths. Some
are practically ready to plant now. With others, breeders would have to develop
domestic varieties that could better withstand U.S. environmental conditions.
Most of the beans would be exported, but the domestic market could benefit,
too. Consumers may already enjoy farofa, a dish with beans and cassava flour
found at a few Brazilian restaurants. A soup, frijoles garras, is on the menu
at some national beef restaurant chains. And nearly all Mexican restaurants
serve refried beans.
The foreign germplasm might also help breeders improve market classes grown
here, such as by incorporating heat resistance from a Latin American bean into
domestic kidney bean varieties.
Breeders can obtain small amounts of seed from Miklas.
ARS is the chief research agency of the U.S.
Department of Agriculture.
Scientific contact: Philip Miklas, ARS Vegetable and Forage Crop
Research Unit, Prosser, Wash., phone (509) 786-9258, fax (509) 786-9277,