Pulse Research: Creating superior varities of field peas and faba beans

A research project at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Research Station in Lacombe, Alberta is evaluating field pea and Faba Bean germ plasm in hopes it will lead to new varieties of the pulse crops.

Robyne Bowness, a pulse research scientist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry says the research being carried out by Dr. DJ Bing with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada will improve the genetics of field peas and Faba beans.

“He’s looking to improve the size of our seed, the colour of our seed, especially when we are talking about green pea where there is a premium paid for a high quality green pea when it retains its colour, (we’re also) looking at seed shape and  trying to improve maturity, little bit short of maturity is always a little bit of a benefit especially in our short growing season in Alberta,” says Bowness.

She says they also want to improve standability.

“It can always been an issue in field pea so we’re trying to increase the standability and of course we are always looking for disease resistance and in the end yield, because yield ultimately yield is the ultimate bottom line for the producer.”

Bing has had that breeding program in Lacombe for over 13 years after moving it from Morden, Manitoba.

Bing works with fellow breeders Dr. Tom Warkentin and Dr. Albert Vandenberg at the University of Saskatchewan and scientists in the Netherlands, Germany, France and Denmark working to improve genetics of these pulse crops.

Bowness says a lot of time and energy has been put into the work being done including screening.

They then take these superior genetics out into different areas of the province and compare them against crops.

“We’re lucky enough to have all of that genetics here in Alberta tested at five locations so that’s very exciting for us.”

Bowness says if they can find a one with better colour, yield, standability, size, they will then take it to the regional variety stage where they grow the crop with those genetics right in farmers’ backyards because they want to show the farmers it works well in their region.

“What grows well in Lethbridge might not grow well in Falher.”