Researcher uses microwave oven to treat edible bean seed

The heat that's generated might control certain pathogens

Preventing some seed-borne diseases in edible beans might someday be as simple as microwaving a pizza pop.

Allison Friesen, a master’s student at the University of Guelph, is studying how well microwaving edible bean seed prevents halo blight, anthracnose and common blight. One of her test plots was a stop on the Manitoba Pulse Grower Association’s tour at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Morden Research Station Aug. 7.

Although the microwaving process might have some impact, Friesen, who is from Halbstadt, is focusing her research on how well heat created by microwaves reduces seed-borne diseases.

Based on her findings so far, heat treatments appear to have been more efficacious in the laboratory than the field.

“We definitely saw some differences in the lab,” Friesen said.

Different diseases tolerate heat differently, she said. Too much heat will prevent seed from germinating.

During the tour, Friesen pointed out the difference between common bacterial and halo blight — two different diseases sometimes found in edible beans at the same time.

Common bacterial blight tends to have larger lesions with yellow around them, she said. Halo blight has smaller lesions but can turn an entire leaf yellow.

Both are hard to treat. The only option is applying copper sulphate. The good news is when they appear together they can be treated together, Friesen said.

About the author

Reporter

Allan Dawson

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.

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