Ontario Bean Growers makes five-year research investment

Ontario Bean Growers (OBG) has invested nearly $1.4 million, over the next 5 years, into bean research projects that seek to improve productivity and reduce threats to pulse crop production, as well as one project that is collecting evidence for a health claim.

Under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, AgriScience Cluster program, OBG will be leveraging their grower dollar investment with $2.6 million of Government and other industry partner funding.

“OBG would like to recognize Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada for their continued investment into the Pulse AgriScience Cluster,” says Jim Gowland, Chair of OBG. “The Cluster not only provides an incredible leveraging opportunity, but also affords grower groups the chance to work together to address challenges in the industry.

Industry partners on the Pulse Science Cluster include Alberta Pulse Growers, Manitoba Pulse and Soybean Growers, Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, and Pulse Canada.

Projects funded under the Pulse Science Cluster are seeking to make advancements in critical areas for the bean industry, including the bean breeding programs at the University of Guelph (U of G), under the leadership of Dr. Peter Pauls, and at AAFC Harrow, led by Dr. Jamie Larsen.

The specific objectives of the bean breeding program at U of G are to breed different bean varieties for Ontario growers with: improved yield and enhanced disease resistance, greater drought tolerance, improved N2 fix capacity, greater resistance to herbicides, superior cooking quality and unique quality traits (such as resistance to seed darkening and enhanced phenolic levels) that increase their return to the grower, increase market utility and enhance their direct benefits to the consumer.

At AAFC Harrow, the objectives are to improve knowledge and understanding of diseases affecting dry bean production in Ontario; and to leverage Harrow Research and Development Centre’s expertise in dry bean genetics by developing dry bean germplasm integrating resistance to specific diseases, including white mold and halo blight. This germplasm will be made available to collaborators at the University of Guelph and other dry bean breeding programs in Canada. In addition, breeding lines from the University of Guelph (advanced and preliminary yield trials) will be tested in the common bacterial blight, white mold and root rot nurseries at Harrow RDC.

“We are extremely proud of our bean breeding programs,” say Mike Donnelly-Vanderloo, Chair of OBG’s Research Committee. “Our continued investment into these two programs ensures that growers have access to varieties developed specifically for growing conditions in Ontario, increasing the competitiveness of our growers.  By leveraging Ontario grower dollars with government and industry funding through the Partnership AgriScience Cluster program, our investment into research makes a significant impact.”

Lateral to the bean breeding programs is the identification of dry bean lines with improved canning and cooking qualities, headed up by Dr. Parthiba Balasubramanian at AAFC Lethbridge. The results of these trials, along with the agronomic traits of a variety, are the basis for decisions on what varieties get put forward for registration.

Another area funded through the Partnership AgriScience Cluster program is the pest management work of Chris Gillard, University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus. Gillard will be working on a number of issues facing bean growers including Anthranose, Common Bacterial Blight, White Mold, Root Rot, Western Bean Cutworm, Potato Leafhopper and Soybean Cyst Nematode.

Finally, OBG is investing in a study, led by Dr. Alison Duncan at the University of Guelph, looking at the cholesterol-lowering effects of beans. The results of this study are contributing to a portfolio of information and data collected through previous projects with the aim of getting a health claim on beans.

The total value of research included under the five-year Pulse AgriScience Cluster is over $18 million, with up to $11.1 million coming from the AgriScience Cluster program, under the federal-provincial-territorial Canadian Agricultural Partnership.