New Navy Bean Shows Promise In Resisting Common Bacterial Blight – for Aug. 19, 2010

Thanks to a wild bean gene that comes naturally equipped with resistance to common bacteria blight, a new navy bean, “Portage,” may soon be available to Prairie farmers.

Dr. Anfu Hou, a research scientist for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada at the Morden Research Centre, proudly displayed a field trial of the Portage bean during the Manitoba Pulse Growers Association Edible Bean Tour Aug. 4.

“We have achieved something that we hadn’t before,” said Hou to the crowd of farmers, researchers, and ag reps who attended the tour. “The unique characteristic of Portage is that it has good CBB tolerance. The resistant gene comes from a wild species of bean, and it has good yield potential.”

Breeder seeds from this year’s trial will be marketed through Canterra seed, and Hou said that, depending on Canterra, the Portage seeds may become available by 2012.

The CBB resistance in the bean came from a breeding line which was later named “OAC Rex,” released by the University of Guelph. This variety is well adapted to southern Ontario conditions, but was too late in maturity for production in Manitoba.

The Portage line has early maturity which will suit farmers in this province well. The development of Portage was originally initiated by Dr. Soon Park, a retired dry bean breeder, in 1999 at the AAFC Harrow Research Centre. Breeding selection and trials that followed were jointly carried out by the AAFC Harrow Research Centre and the Morden Research Station.

KIM LANGEN

THE PLOTS THICKEN:Dr. Anfu Hou ofAgriculture andAgri-Food Canada thinks that a new variety of

navy bean, “Portage,” might hold promise for pulse producers in Manitoba thanks to its resistance to common bacteria blight. The Portage bean, pictured, is being trialled at the Morden Research Station, and

was showcased during the Manitoba Pulse Growers Association Edible Bean Tour.

The origin of the CBBresistant gene is Phaseolus acutifolius A. Gray, a tepary bean line P1440795. Interspecific transfer of this gene into cultivated navy beans was reported in 1985, so the gene is not a new one to scientists. But using it here in Manitoba via the Portage bean, and meeting the challenges of our conditions, is novel.

“It’s been around for a few years, but this is the first bean to exhibit resistance in Western Canada,” said Hou.

Portage is similar to Envoy for maturity dates, he added, but Envoy easily succumbs to CBB. Portage has an upright bush habit, and average yields of 2007- 08 Morden’s Co-op trials were 121 per cent of Envoy. The 2009 variety trials yielded 2,559 pounds per acre of Portage, versus 1,727 pounds per acre of Envoy. Tested as H96204, it showed moderate resistance to CBB, low white mould incidence, but was susceptible to anthracnose races 73 and 105. Envoy is currently the main standby for a lot of navy bean producers, and Hou thinks Portage might make a good replacement for them.

“Envoy is an old cultivar, with early maturity,” said Hou. “And it’s very susceptible to CBB, but because of the early maturity farmers like it.”

Hou plans to submit a cultivar description of Portage to theCanadian Journal of Plant Scienceslater in the year, and the line is already in the registration process.

“Hopefully, this will make a lot of noise in the next few years,” said Hou. “It may have good potential for growers. It’s as good as the checks.”

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