Vegetable Breeding Program

Why Breed Vegetables at OSU?

Regional Adaptations

The vegetable breeding program at OSU develops improved vegetable varieties to meet the needs of gardeners, growers, and processors operating in the unique growing conditions of the Pacific Northwest. The Willamette Valley is the primary vegetable growing region in the state.  Many cultivars require specific adaptation to thrive in the cool Mediterranean climate.

Disease Resistance

The program also focuses on developing cultivars with improved disease resistance and works closely with the Oregon Processed Vegetable Commission. The Willamette Valley is the ideal location for developing disease resistant cultivars due to the high disease pressure already present.  

Organic Production and Enhanced Nutrition

With growing interest in organic crop production, there is also a need to develop crops that will perform well in organic systems.  Such varieties should be disease and pest resistant, high yielding with low inputs, and high in nutritional value and flavor.  For more information on breeding for organic production visit the NOVIC site.  Enhanced nutritional value of crops is a focus that has led to the development of the high anthocyanin Indigo Rose tomato

Vegetable Trials

In addition to breeding vegetables, the Veg Program conducts trials on all types of vegetables with the exceptions of sweet and Irish potato and tropical crops.  These trials are conducted in the Willamette Valley in order to provide Valley growers and gardeners with recommendations on what performs well.  Qualities that are focused on include disease resistance, production quality, and novel traits.

Additional Information

For more information on vegetable farming in Oregon please visit the Veg External Links page.  For additional information on organic farming please visit this page at Washington State University's Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources.


Green Beans (snap beans)

The Willamette Valley green bean processing industry is known for the high quality of the Blue Lake variety. The green bean project focuses on developing a cultivar with white mold resistance that has comparable processing qualities to Blue Lake. The green bean project at OSU also strives to maintain diverse approaches, germplasm and markets for its green bean varieties.


The Broccoli breeding project is loosely divided into developing 2 types of varieties: one for the Processing market and one for the Organic market.

Processing market  Focus is on traits that facilitate mechanical harvest and processing.

Organic markets  Focus on traits that improve variety performance in organic farming.  Open-pollinated cultivars are developed to allow for seed saving.

Snow Pea

This project focuses on developing fresh market varieties that perform especially well in the Willamette Valley. We look for taller, more indeterminate vines and resistance to viruses, powdery mildew and Fusarium wilt.


Objectives include improving disease resistance and human nutrition. Late Blight is the primary disease concern for tomato growers in the Pacific Northwest. Pathogens in the Pacific Northwest seem to be overcoming resistance genes that are otherwise successful in the eastern United States.

Golden Delicious Pumpkin

Developing resistance to zucchini yellows virus.

Habanero pepper

Developing a pepper adapted to the Pacific Northwest.  And developing a mild habanero that can be enjoyed for the flavor without the pain.

Dry Beans

Breeding efforts are focused on developing a variety of Peruano beans with improved performance in the Willamette Valley climate.  Dry bean varieties developed by the program can be trialed through the National Cooperatie Dry Bean Nursery (NCDBN).  Additionally, there is a site in Mexico for trialing of the Peruano beans.  

Other Crops in the program

  • Additional winter/summer squashes
  • Andean root tuber crops (oca, mashaua, mauka)

Breeding Methods

Green Beans  pedigree, single seed descent, backcross breeding

Broccoli  pedigree, F1 hybrid production, half-sib recurrent mass selection

Tomato pedigree, backcross breeding

Peas pedigree, single seed descent

Summer squash  pedigree

Winter squash  pedigree

Dry bean  pedigree, marker assisted backcross breeding

Peppers  pedigree

Staff Profiles

  1. Jim Meyers is the primary vegetable breeding faculty.
  2. Shinji Kawai (Faculty Research Assistant)
  3. Joel Davis (Faculty Research Assistant)

Collaborators, Partners, and Sponsors

Phil McClean, North Dakota State University, BeanCAP

Perry Cregan, USDA – Beltsville, BeanCAP

Phil Miklas, Washington State University (USDA), National Sclerotinia Initiative

Dr. Michael Mazourek, Cornell University

Dr. Erin Silva, University of Wisconsin – Madison

Micaela Colley, Organic Seed Alliance – Port Townsend, WA

Oregon Processed Vegetable Commission (OPVC)

USDA-NIFA-AFRI Plant Breeding Foundational

USDA-NIFA-Organic Research and Extension Initiative

USDA-NIFA-Specialty Crops Research Initiative

Clif Bar Seed Matters

Baggett-Frazier Endowment

Idaho Dry Bean Commission

McKnight Foundation

Graduate Student Projects

Lyle Wallace, Ph.D. candidate

Mapping flavor traits in snap beans with the goal of improving the flavor of bush blue lake snap beans. Initial research includes panels of tasters who will assess more than a hundred accessions of snap bean and gas chromatography to identify volatile substances associated with flavor traits.

Kara Young, Ph.D. student

Research is focused on breeding for disease resistance in tomato.  Specifically, working on breeding for late blight resistance in organic systems.  The project involves work to introgress known sources of genetic resistance to late blight into cultivated tomato as well as screening material for novel sources of resistance.

Haider Arkwazee, Ph.D. candidate

Research involves investigating white mold resistance in snap beans.

Abigail Graham, M.S. student

Research involves investigating genetic resistance to root rot in snap beans.  Projects will include field trials, association mapping on a diversity panel of snap beans, and developing INDEL markers for previously identified root rot resistance QTL.

Noor Al-Bader   Ph.D. student, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Jaiswal Lab

Rogue pod traits in Phaseolus vulgaris (MS 2014)

Christina Hagerty*   Ph.D. candidate, Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, cereal pathology program
*NOTE: Title of defense seminar. Thesis not online, so will have to contact graduate

Mapping quantitative trait loci for root rot resistance, root traits, and morphological traits in a common bean recombinant inbred population (MS, 2013).

Laurie McKenzie*   Breeding Internship, Organic Seed Alliance, Port Townsend, WA
*NOTE: Title of defense seminar. Thesis not online, so will have to contact graduate

Breeding an open pollinated broccoli for organic production systems using participatory methods (MS, 2013).

Shawna Zimmerman  MS Student, Graduate Degree Program in Ecology, Colorado State University, CO

Transfer, characterization and mapping of white mold resistance in an advanced backcross interspecific population between Phaseolus vulgaris and Phaseolus coccineus (MS, 2011).

Miles Barrett - Research Technician , Barenbrug USA, Tangent, OR

Pyramiding quantitative trait loci conditioning partial resistance to Sclerotinia sclerotiorum in bush blue lake green beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) (MS, 2010)

Peter Boches - Blueberry Breeder, Fall Creek Nursery, Lowell, OR

Breeding tomato for increased fruit phenolics (Ph.D., 2009)

Erron Haggard - Cucurbit Breeder, Hollar Seed Co., Rocky Ford, CO

Characterization of physiological resistance to white mold and search for molecular markers linked to resistance via advanced backcross QTL analysis in an interspecific cross between Phaseolus coccineus and P. vulgaris (MS, 2007)

Paul Kusolwa - Lecturer, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Morogoro, Tanzania

Breeding for bruchid resistance in common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L ) : interspecific introgression of lectin-like seed proteins from tepary bean (P. acutifolius Gray), genetic control and bruchid resistance characterization (PhD, 2008)

Barbara Gilmore- Nursery Care, One Green World, Molalla, OR

Genetic resistance to white mold (Sclerotinia sclerotiorum (Lib.) De Bary) in scarlet runner beans (Phaseolus coccineus L. ) (Ph.D., 2007)

Peter Mes - Vegetable Breeder, AgroGene, Twin Falls, ID

Breeding tomatoes for improved antioxidant activity (Ph.D., 2005)

Rebecca Brown - Assistant Professor of Plant Breeding, Department of Plant Sciences and Entomology, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI

Traditional and molecular approaches to Zucchini yellow mosaic virus resistance in Cucurbita (Ph.D., 2001)

Carl Jones - Vegetable Trait Integration Strategy Lead, Seminis-Monsanto, Sacramento, CA

Nihat Guner - Global R&D Head - Watermelon & Senior Watermelon Breeder, Sakata Seed America Inc., Ft. Myers, FL

Kevin McPhee - Assistant Professor & Pulse crops breeder, Department of  Plant Sciences, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND


Voice of America  "Plant Breeders Aim to Save Diners from Bland Veggies" by Tom Banse

NPR   "Plant Breeders Aim to Save Northwest from Bland Veggies" by Tom Banse (listen)

Civil Eats   "A Better Tomato, A Better Tomorrow"  by Margarett Waterbury

VQR  "Linux for Lettuce"    by Lisa M. Hamilton

Martha Stewart Magazine, Indigo Apple tomato makes on a short list in "Behold the Tomato" by Maria Robledo

Scientific American, "Creating Tastier and Healthier Fruits and Veggies with a Modern Alternative to GMOs" by Ferris Jabr

Epicurious, "The Indigo Rose Tomato" by Esther Sung

Mise Magazine "Seeds"  by Cassandra Landry

Acres USA (Jan 2015)  "Novel Collaboration Leads to Better Varieties"

Edible Portland  "A Better Tomato, A Better Tomorrow"  by Margarett Waterbury

Pacific Standard  "Fruits and Vegetables Are About to Enter a Flavor Renaissance" by Ferris Jabr

Food & Wine  "7 Perfectly-Customized Vegetables Brought to You by the Culinary Breeding Network" by Noah Kaufman

Edible Portland  Underground Airwaves Podcast "Plant Breeding with Lane Selman"

Organic Gardening  "The Seed of an Idea"  by Corby Kummer

Varieties Released

Common Bean
Germplasm Released:


Market Class

Release Date








Great Northern



Great Northern


Common Bean

Variety Released:






Market Class



Release Date

Plant Var. Protection Certificate No.


PVP issue date

'UI 686'





'UI 722'

Dark Red Kidney




'UI 906'





'UI 125'

Small White




'UI 196'





'UI 537'





'UI 137'





'UI 911'





'UI 228'

Small Red




'UI 239'

Small Red




'Black Knight'





'UI 320'





'UI 465'

Great Northern




'UI 259'

Small Red




Vegetable Cultivars Released





Release Date



'Indigo Rose

Tomato: Saladette with high levels of anthocyanin in the fruit.


Pending (201100302)



Tomato:  Large fruited, early maturing, late blight resistant parthenocarpic slicer.


Not obtained



Bush blue lake snap bean: high yielding, improved architecture & pod quality.


Not obtained



Dry bean: high yielding disease resistant kablanketi type for Eastern & Southern Africa.


Not obtained (released through Sokoine Univ. Agric., Tanzania)



Dry bean: high yielding disease resistant kablanketi type for Eastern & Southern Africa.


Not obtained

(released through Sokoine Univ. Agric., Tanzania)



Vegetable Cultivars Nearing Release





Release Date



OSU 6443

BBL green bean:  Full sieve, good color and processing characteristics, higher yielding and better architecture than Oregon 91G. 



Stringless Snap and Snow Peas

PEMV, RCVMV, Powdery Mildew, and Fusarium Wilt resistant.  Developed for organic production. 

2 – 3 lines in 2013



Open pollinated population selected for improved sprouting characteristics. 

Release as OP in 2015


Golden Delicious winter squash Cucurbita maxima

Resistance to ZYMV and other cucurbit potyviruses. Developed for processing and culinary seed industry.   

2 – 3 lines in 2014