Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/7/2010
Publication Date: 4/20/2010
Citation: Fery, R.L. 2010. An Overview of the Current Status of Southernpea Breeding Programs in the United States. HortScience. 45(4):504
Technical Abstract: American Horticulturists use the term southernpea when referring to any type of cowpea being grown as a vegetable crop. Several types of southernpeas, e.g., pinkeye peas, blackeye peas, crowder peas, cream peas and snap peas, have a long history of use in the southern United States. An extensive industry exists to supply the canned and frozen peas that are marketed nationwide. The crop is also a popular home garden and market garden item in all of the southern states from Texas through the Carolinas and Virginia. Plant breeders employed by public agencies have played a major role in supporting the vitality of the industry by developing southernpea cultivars with the needed disease and pest resistance, stress tolerance, and horticultural traits. There are a number of suitable cultivars now available for most production sites. However, public support of southernpea breeding programs has been on a steady decline in recent decades. In 1970, Auburn University, the University of Arkansas, the University of Florida, the University of Georgia, Clemson University, Louisiana State University, Mississippi State University, Texas A&M University, the Virginia Truck & Ornamental Research Station, and the USDA Vegetable Laboratory in Charleston, SC, each supported a recognized southernpea breeding program. Of the ten public breeding programs active in 1970, only three are still active today, and expected retirements of southernpea breeders might reduce the number of active programs to a single program in the near future. It is doubtful that a single southernpea breeding program can address all of the future cultivar development needs of the home garden, market garden, canning, and freezing segments of the industry.