Bean Commission funds research
The Wyoming Bean Commission recently held a meeting at the end of February via teleconference, during which the Commission selected six dry bean research projects for funding.
According to a March 7 press release, $34,215 was funded to the six projects.
“The projects chosen are funded through assessments collected on dry bean sales in Wyoming and include a variety of topics that will assist bean growers in the coming years,” says the release.
According to Hank Uhden, Wyoming Department of Agriculture (WDA) Technical Services Division manager, the Bean Commission was formed in 2015 by the Wyoming Legislature and is funded through assessments on dry bean sales.
“WDA administers the commission itself and the collection of assessments,” he says.
The six-member commission was originally appointed by Gov. Matt Mead and includes four bean growers and two bean handlers.
The primary purpose of the commission is to pool resources for research on dry beans in the state of Wyoming, as well as to provide a voice for the industry.
The commission is also seeking to work with neighboring state commissions and universities, in both Colorado and Idaho, to share expertise.
The Bean Commission will be funding six research projects for the upcoming year.
“Of the six projects we’re funding, four of them were renewed from last year,” comments Uhden.
While not on the research project list, a producer survey that was funded last year is reaching completion, as surveys were sent out at the end of March.
“The Commission wants to hear directly from producers about what is important in the dry bean industry to see how to best utilize the funds from the assessment,” he explains.
Two of the research projects include edible dry beans as part of a crop rotation and cooperative dry bean nurseries.
Another main topic of research is studying drought-resistant varieties based on bean genotype.
“Researchers are looking at a lot of drought-resistant varieties and identifying which varieties available in other states could be adapted here. These varieties don’t have the high water needs of a lot of the beans that we’re currently growing,” he says.
In addition to using genetics to identify drought-resistant varieties, researchers are also using genetic information to look at the option of direct harvesting beans.
“They’re looking to see if direct harvest is an option and if can they find a bean that has genetic traits to grow a little taller,” continues Uhden.
As part of the selection process, the commission sent out a request for proposals.
Uhden notes that key researchers from the University of Wyoming (UW) were present throughout the commission’s meetings and discussion.
“Through those discussions with the commission, university researchers were able to get a good feel for what the commission was looking for in their discussions,” he says.
Input was also taken from the annual Wyoming Crop Improvement Association meeting.
“One of the ideas that came through was the element of fertility that we need to look at in dry beans,” he continues. “UW came back this year with proposed projects in that area.”
The upcoming producer survey will also be critical in selecting future research projects for funding.
“The commission knows that they don’t get 100 percent participation from everybody across the state at these grower meetings, which makes responses to these surveys important,” comments Uhden.
Uhden notes that the commission will most likely have one more spring or early summer meeting for 2017
“If we don’t do one in late spring or early summer, we’ll have a meeting in the fall,” he explains.
Another large project is the upcoming election cycle, which will elect one handler and two grower positions on the commission.
Individuals who paid the assessment last year will be eligible to vote and should receive the ballots in the mail by the beginning of April.
According to Uhden, each individual serving on the board is eligible to serve one additional term if they are re-elected.
“The growers and the handlers are able to vote by either checking that they want to retain who is on the commission or by writing in a new person,” he concludes. “Should somebody want to get on the commission, they could campaign amongst their peers who grow beans to write their name in.”
Emilee Gibb is editor of Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at email@example.com.