Heart-Friendly, Blight-Resistant Peanuts
By Luis Pons
August 13, 2003
During the past 25 years, the Agricultural
Research Service's Plant
Science and Water Conservation Research Laboratory in Stillwater,
Okla., has produced peanut cultivars that resist Sclerotinia blight.
But recently, two new varieties developed there have caused quite a stir.
That's because they are the first peanut lines to possess both blight
resistance and oil with high oleic acid content. Oleic is a monounsaturated
fatty acid credited with benefitting the cardiovascular system, as well as
warding off spoilage and off-flavor in stored peanut products.
The cultivars--Olin, a Spanish variety, and Tamrun OL 01, a runner
type--were developed jointly in the lab's Wheat, Peanut and Other Field Crops
Research Unit by plant pathologist Hassan Melouk, in cooperation with
Texas A&M and
Oklahoma State universities.
According to Melouk, the new varieties will have the greatest benefit in
states such as Oklahoma and Texas, where most of the peanuts grown are runner
and Spanish types. He adds they will save peanut growers millions of dollars by
reducing reliance on fungicides and spoilage-related losses.
The two new peanut cultivars will be jointly released soon, and seed should
be available to farmers from dealers this year.
Sclerotinia blight is a soil-borne disease that causes stem and peg
rot. The fungus forms seedlike structures and attacks plants near the soil
line, spreading rapidly. It survives winter in the soil and attacks again, even
if other crops are rotated between peanut plantings.
Before the release of the new cultivars, the only way of fighting the blight
was to use chemical-based fungicides, which increases production costs.
Read more about this research in the
August issue of
Agricultural Research magazine.
ARS is the chief scientific research
agency of the U.S. Department of