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James Myers

james.myers [at]

Office: 541-737-3083

We develop improved vegetable varieties with the main focus being to support gardeners, growers and processors in the Pacific Northwest (PNW).

This region of the United States has a unique growing environment, and varieties developed elsewhere may not necessarily be optimally adapted to the PNW. We have breeding programs on snap beans, snap peas, broccoli, tomatoes, peppers and cucurbits. We breed vegetable for both processing (snap beans, broccoli) and fresh market (snap peas, broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, summer and winter squash) producers. My academic interests include understanding crop adaptation to organic production systems, enhancing human nutrition in vegetables, improving taste and flavor in vegetables and incorporating resistance to the major pathogens of our region. We use a combination of traditional plant breeding techniques combined with genomics and bioinformatics tools. Our program was the first to develop the 'Indigo' high anthocyanin tomatoes, with five cultivar releases in this group. Some of our breeding objectives are to:

  • Increasing the availability of organically produced vegetable seed by identifying and breeding varieties adapted to organic systems.
  • Engaging farmers and chefs in the breeding process through participatory plant breeding.
  • Breeding vegetables for improved human health, taste and quality.
  • Evaluating and selecting for disease resistance in vegetable crops.

Most Significant Service, Professional Activities, and Accomplishments (since 1988)

  • I have developed and released 17 dry bean, one snap bean, one broccoli hybrid, three edible podded pea cultivars and six tomato cultivars. One tomato cultivar (co-released with Dr. J.R. Baggett) is ‘Legend’, an early, large fruited, parthenocarpic, determinate slicer with late blight resistance.
  • My graduate students and I were the first to create high anthocyanin tomatoes using conventional breeding approaches. Tomato fruit typically do not have anthocyanins but these have elevated levels of anthocyanin in the epidermis and may appear as black as an eggplant. The first release of this kind – ‘Indigo Rose’ has been available in the U.S. since 2012 and is now moving into global markets. Subsequent releases have been ‘Indigo Cherry Drops’, Indigo Pear Drops’ ‘Indigo Kiwi’ and ‘Midnight Roma’. Other breeders are releasing these types of tomatoes but nearly all tomatoes in this class originate from germplasm from my program.
  • The green bean cultivar OSU 5630 released in 2005, is the predominant bush blue lake green bean grown by Oregon processors.
  • I am project director for the Northern Organic Vegetable Improvement Collaborative (NOVIC), a USDA-NIFA-OREI funded project to breed and trial vegetable varieties adapted to organic production systems across the northern U.S. We are in our 3rd four-year cycle of funding with the project. The project uses a farmer participatory research model through techniques such as mother-daughter trials.
  • I worked on dry bean genetic improvement projects in Eastern and Southern Africa for more than 27 years. In cooperation with researchers at Sokoine University of Agriculture in Morogoro Tanzania, we transferred resistance to bean seed weevils (bruchids) from wild tepary bean into common bean with support from the US-AID funded Bean/Cowpea CRSP. Further efforts supported by the McKnight Foundation facilitated the development of bean cultivars adapted to eastern and southern Africa that do not succumb to bean seed weevil pressure at harvest and in storage.

Grants and Program Support

  • My support total at OSU (1996-2020) has been >$2.7 million in non-peer reviewed grants and >$10.1 million (my portion only) in competitive peer reviewed grants.
  • My program is supported by the Baggett-Frazier endowment established by the Oregon processed vegetable industry.