Nav: Home

Keeping pinto beans away from the dark side

July 22, 2020

Pinto beans are good for us. They are nutritious, packed with protein and fiber. They also contain a host of micronutrients like B vitamins and folate.

But being good isn't enough for pinto beans. They also need to look good.

Typically, pinto beans have a striking mottled pattern of dark and light brown. However, the beans can darken after harvesting.

Consumers perceive pinto beans with darker colors to be older, harder to cook, and less nutritious than lighter beans.

"We eat with our eyes," says Juan Osorno. Osorno is a researcher at North Dakota State University.

And it's not only consumers who are skeptical about dark pinto beans. "Farmers see darker pinto bean seeds as being of poorer quality," says Osorno. "And when farmers try to sell darker beans, they often have to accept discounted prices."

That's a big deal because pinto beans are the most common type of dry bean grown and consumed in the United States.

In the recent study, Osorno and colleagues describe the process of developing a promising new variety of slow-darkening pinto bean. "The study found no major differences in the agronomic performance of regular versus the slow-darkening pintos," says Osorno.

He believes these slow-darkening pinto beans can be a good alternative for the existing pinto bean value chain. "Both farmers and consumers will benefit from it in many ways," he says.

For example, the slow-darkening beans cooked faster than regular beans. Needing less time to cook can be a great benefit in areas where cooking fuel is scarce.

The key advancement has been improving agronomic performance - such as yield and bean size - of the slow-darkening beans. That's huge progress, because past plants with the slow darkening gene have had many issues associated with agronomic performance.

For example, one older variety of slow-darkening pinto beans has low yields. Another won't flower under farming conditions in the United States. Yet another grows in such a way that it makes mechanical harvesting of the beans difficult.

At the root of these difficulties lies pinto bean genetics. Physical characteristics, such as yield, bean size, or rate of darkening, are all affected by one or more genes.

Turns out, a single gene - aptly named slow darkening or SD - controls how quickly pinto beans darken after harvesting. Researchers can breed this gene into new pinto bean varieties fairly easily without creating a genetically modified organism (GMO).

But whenever they incorporated this gene in the past, other genes responsible for lower yields or smaller beans would come along with the slow darkening gene.

Osorno and colleagues tested several varieties of slow-darkening and regular pinto beans over the past decade. The tests were carried out in research plots in Washington and North Dakota.

The researchers compared traits such as seed weight, yield, and cooking time between slow-darkening and regular pinto beans.

The initial tests - from 2010 to 2012 - did not yield encouraging results. The slow-darkening beans performed poorly compared to regular pinto beans.

But the latest round of field trials using slow-darkening pinto beans was more promising. According to the 2018 tests, the newer slow-darkening pinto bean varieties are catching up to regular varieties in yield and bean size.

In fact, a second generation of slow-darkening pinto beans is already showing higher yields compared to the previous generation.

Osorno is encouraged but says there's still work to be done. "Remember that breeding yields gains in a stepwise manner rather than through big jumps," he says.
Read more about this research in Crop Science. This work was funded by Northarvest Bean Growers Association, United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture, United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Service, and the North Dakota Department of Agriculture.

American Society of Agronomy

Related Consumers Articles:

Is less more? How consumers view sustainability claims
Communicating a product's reduced negative attribute might have unintended consequences if consumers approach it with the wrong mindset.
In the sharing economy, consumers see themselves as helpers
Whether you use a taxi or a rideshare app like Uber, you're still going to get a driver who will take you to your destination.
Helping consumers in a crisis
A new study shows that the central bank tool known as quantitative easing helped consumers substantially during the last big economic downturn -- a finding with clear relevance for today's pandemic-hit economy.
'Locally grown' broccoli looks, tastes better to consumers
In tests, consumers in upstate New York were willing to pay more for broccoli grown in New York when they knew where it came from, Cornell University researchers found.
Should patients be considered consumers?
No, and doing so can undermine efforts to promote patient-centered health care, write three Hastings Center scholars in the March issue of Health Affairs.
Consumers choose smartphones mostly because of their appearance
The more attractive the image and design of the telephone, the stronger the emotional relationship that consumers are going to have with the product, which is a clear influence on their purchasing decision.
When consumers don't want to talk about what they bought
One of the joys of shopping for many people is the opportunity to brag about their purchases to friends and others.
As consumers, how do we decide what's 'best' when it's not clear?
Imagine you are choosing between two resorts for your island vacation.
Effects of ethnocentrism on consumers
Aitor Calvo-Turrientes, winner of the prize for End-of-Degree Project in Sustainability in 2015 awarded by the Faculty of Economics and Business of the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country in Vitoria-Gasteiz, is the author of the paper 'The valuation and purchase of food products that combine local, regional and traditional features: The influence of consumer ethnocentrism,' published recently by the prestigious journal Food Quality and Preference.
Organic consumers mean business
Groundbreaking research from Aarhus BSS shows that organic consumers are standing fast and are buying more and more organic products following an increasingly predictable pattern.
More Consumers News and Consumers Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: The Power Of Spaces
How do spaces shape the human experience? In what ways do our rooms, homes, and buildings give us meaning and purpose? This hour, TED speakers explore the power of the spaces we make and inhabit. Guests include architect Michael Murphy, musician David Byrne, artist Es Devlin, and architect Siamak Hariri.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.