Beef-Bush Dry Bean Breeding

Beef-Bush Black Resilient, Beef-Bush Brown Resilient, and Beef-Bush Gold Resilient Dry Beans—Descriptions and Breeding Histories.

(by Carol Deppe)

  

Description: Beef-Bush Gold Resilient dry bean (Phaseolus ssp)

Bred for organics.  Early dry bush bean. Very productive. Sister* to Beefy Resilient Grex and to the other two beef-bush lines.  I was just minding my own business not trying to be a bean breeder at all when my heirloom ‘Gaucho’ beans, supposedly P. vulgaris, crossed so cheerfully with ‘Black Mitla’ tepary, supposedly P. acutifolius, to give me material that I in due course released as ‘Beefy Resilient Grex’. (See ‘Beefy Resilient Grex variety description.)  I was still not trying to be a bean breeder when I subsequently got several dozen unsolicited backcrosses of those crosses onto pure ‘Gaucho’. The backcrossed plants were obvious by their generally short-viney bush type, purplish plants, and usually black or brown seed. (These short-vines are held erect, so don’t drag on the ground; they increase the dimensions and productivity of individual plants, but allow them to still be managed as bush beans.) One of these backcrossed plants produced 806 seeds, the most I have ever got from any legume. Really, what could I do? I saved the seed separately, of course. This plant, named “Resilient 800X’ became the foundation plant for the Beef-Bush series, derived by selecting for bush type and pure colors. ‘Beef-Bush Gold Resilient’ is the first of these to be released. It looks just like ‘Gaucho’, but is a sister line to ‘Beefy Resilient Grex’ and not to ‘Gaucho’. ‘Beef-Bush Gold Resilient’ is a full flavored dry bean. It’s genetically ¾ Gaucho and ¼ ‘Black Mitla’ “tepary”. Bred by Carol Deppe (Fertile Valley Seeds).

 

Description: Beef-Bush Black Resilient dry bean (Phaseolus ssp.)

Bred for organics. Determinate bush dry bean with an intensely powerful beefy flavor. Sister* variety to Beef-Bush Black Resilient and Beef-Bush Gold Resilient. Selected from a particularly productive spontaneous backcross of Beefy Resilient Grex and Gaucho, a plant that had 806 seeds and was heterozygous for plant type and bean color. Beef-Bush Black Resilient is genetically ¾ Gaucho and ¼ Beefy Resilient Grex. It’s a little later than Gaucho but earlier than Beefy Resilient Grex. More than 90% of the seeds are black, the rest gold. I’m continuing to mass select for black seed. (Rogue out the golds.) Bred by Carol Deppe/Fertile Valley Seeds.

 

Description: Beef-Bush Brown Resilient dry bean (Phaseolus ssp.)

Bred for organics. Determinate bush dry bean with a rich hearty very full-bodied flavor. Sister* variety to Beef-Bush Black Resilient and Beef-Bush Gold Resilient. Selected from a particularly productive spontaneous backcross of Beefy Resilient Grex and Gaucho, a plant that had 806 seeds and was heterozygous for plant type and bean color. Beef-Bush Brown Resilient is genetically ¾ Gaucho and ¼ Beefy Resilient Grex. A little later than Gaucho but earlier than Beefy Resilient Grex. Almost completely brown seeds, with just an occasional gold. Rogue out the golds. Bred by Carol Deppe/Fertile Valley Seeds.

 

Breeding history of Beef-Bush Gold Resilient, Beef-Bush Black Resilient, and Beef-Bush Brown Resilient:

All three are mass selections from the offspring of a single individual plant I named “Resilient 800”, a plant that had 806 seeds, short-vine type, and black seeds. Resilient 800 was one of a couple dozen spontaneous backcrosses of Beefy Resilient Grex onto Gaucho. (None of the rest had this kind of productivity.) I planted 600 seeds from Resilient 800; they segregated for short-vine versus full determinate bush and black, brown, and gold bean color. I hand sorted the plants for vine type and opened a pod of each to determine bean color, and pooled the plants into 6 lots based upon plant type and seed color. From there I mass-selected for plant type and color to develop three pure color lines with pure determinate bush form. (Determinate bushes make for much easier harvesting and threshing than the short vine type. Since I already grow, maintain, and sell Beefy Resilient Grex, which has mixed color and plant types, I didn’t need anything else with the short-vine type or color mix or plant form mix.)

 

I wanted 3 pure-color lines that were full bush type so as to have 3 sister varieties—which is what I call varieties that are genetically identical except for one or two genes that have major effects on flavor but don’t matter much if the varieties are intercrossed. This allows me and other fellow seed savers to get three different flavors from just one bean isolation niche. (You plant in blocks, eat the edges, and save seed from the middle of each block to minimize crosses. The crosses that do occur don’t matter other than contributing a few off-color beans that are easy to remove by hand from planting material.) Sister varieties is my tactic for building easy of seed saving right into the genetics of the varieties. And it matters, at least here in maritime Oregon under organic conditions. Outcrossing of two small patches of P. vulgaris 12’ apart was 5%, for example. An organic gardener here with a small garden can really only grow one bean variety (hence one flavor) of P. vulgaris dry beans a year without getting it thoroughly crossed up.)

 

I mass selected because I wanted to retain as much of the genetic heterogeneity as possible for everything except what mattered to me. And I wanted to preserve as much of the genetics of that original outrageously productive foundation plant as possible in the derived varieties. What mattered for this material was determinate bush form, high yield, uniform maturity, somewhat earlier maturity than Beefy Resilient Grex, and uniform bean color in each variety. The spectacular distinctive flavors seem to go with the seed colors in this genetic background, so took care of themselves. I practice very gentle selection for uniform maturity by eliminating (eating) beans from the plants that develop in the last quarter or so of the harvest season for the material. (I don’t want or need these varieties to be as early as possible, since pure Gaucho and White Candle Gaucho are earliest, and staggered maturities is more practical, and selecting heavily for earliness would generally mean lower productivity.) I select automatically for yield since all the seed from non-rogued plants is pooled and a subset of that becomes the next year’s planting material. It took one year of selection from Resilient 800 offspring to get and introduce Beef-Bush Gold Resilient (OSSI-Pledge and introduced last year). It was easiest because it represented all the recessives. It took two rounds of selection to get the brown pure enough to release.  (The 2016 brown crop (first sold in Jan 2017), had less than 1% golds. The 2016 black turned out to have an inconvenient amount of gold in it; I held it back for another round of selection, and will release it in Jan 2018.

 

I don’t yet have good yield data on the new varieties. Just eyeballing it, they look at least as productive and possibly more productive than Gaucho, which is the most productive dry bean I’ve ever grown. (Slightly over 20 pounds per 100 row feet. Those are numbers representing the upper limit of dry bean productivity on great garden soil in California, land of much more heat; such yields are really astonishing for dry beans in maritime Oregon on organically managed soil of modest field level type fertility.)

 

I also don’t know anything about adaptation of these varieties to regions or climates other than my own. Like most freelance plant breeders, I pretty much don’t worry about it. I breed for what does well for me. It’s up to others elsewhere to try it and see if it works for them too.

 

All three Beef-Bush varieties still have a good bit of vine type in them, about 10-20% which should be selected against. The viney type is dominant, but it is slower than one might expect to get rid of, because the beans outcross so readily, at least under organic growing conditions here in the maritime NW.

 

All three Beef-Bush lines are variable with respect to seed coat thickness, soaking time, and probably cooking time. It works well to soak cooking beans 24 hours and cook about 1 ½ hours. It might be useful to deliberately select for thin skin and faster more uniform soaking and cooking times by presoaking the planting beans a few hours, then hand selecting out those that have swelled up fully. (I haven’t done this yet.)

 

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