Blue Lake Bean Seeds

Asked March 4, 2019, 2:35 PM EST

For several years there was a problem with Blue Lake Pole Bean seeds which produced flat stringy bean pods. Apparently the problem was the hybrid was reverting to one of the varieties use to create the original BL bean. Only by going to some independent seed producers was I able to get usable seeds that did not have this problem. I notice now there is no mention of this problem and no one seems to be advertising seeds that are clear of this issue as they were. When I search the Internet I only find older articles discussing the issue. Do you know if they have indeed resolved the problem with current seed production or is it just old news and no one is discussing it currently? It is really heart breaking to till, plant, and nurture the plants only to get a useless crop. Before I buy seeds I would like to know there is a good chance of getting some good BL to can. Thanks

Linn County Oregon

2 Responses

Thanks for your question. I'm going to run your question by the OSU Vegetable Breeder. He works on beans, as well as many other veggies, but beans are his passion.

I will update this answer once I hear back from him. My email is listed below-just in case.

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I heard back from OSU's vegetable breeder. Let me know if you have any questions on his response:

"First, there are no F1 hybrid beans – they are a pure line and will have a fixed genetic complement unless there happens to be an outcross. Outcrosses are rather rare and the variety will usually show variation for many traits, not just for strings and flats.
Rather, reversion from round stringless low fiber pods to oval or flat stringy high fiber pods is a common off type in all varieties of snap beans that companies have to select against when they are producing seed. This is usually done by periodically growing out progeny rows from single plants saved in the prior generation. A field crew goes through and evaluates each individual plant for off types, and if any are found, then the entire family is discarded. Those that show the desired traits are bulked to produce the stock seed for increase for commercial production. Ideally this should be done every year, but I think that some companies will do it every 3-5 years, or when the off type issue gets particularly bad.
In the case of Pole Blue Lake the variety has been poorly maintained and the off types are accumulating. The market for this variety is small and profit margin is thin so the regeneration is done on a shoestring. Fibrous types tend to have greater fitness over low fiber types so the former will accumulate over generations of propagation when there is no maintenance.
The only suggestion I can offer the grower is to buy from a reputable company that has a good seed maintenance program, or to produce your own seed from plants that you have checked for off types."

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