It’s official - we have decided on our first crop!
The Hershberger lab has started efforts towards building a butter bean (Phaseolus lunatus) breeding program. Butter beans, for those of you not from the Southern US, are also known as Lima beans. While Lima beans have become a trope elsewhere, for many South Carolinians these beans evoke more positive memories: shelling beans with Grandma on the front porch, summer family meals, and plenty of bacon fat. What do butter beans bring to mind for you?
Here in June and July in South Carolina, butter beans are harvested green. Our team recently had the opportunity to visit a large butter bean operation in Lumberton, North Carolina (about an hour north of us). Packhouse Farms has been growing butter beans for decades and has developed quite the growing and processing operation.
This summer, the Hershberger lab is putting in the leg work to learn the ins and outs of butter bean production and processing. We are sharpening our pollination skills, gathering germplasm, and setting up our protocols and lab space for the coming influx of beans. If anyone has an heirloom or favorite variety of butter beans, send some our way so we can try it out!
Are you a butter bean grower in the Southeast? We would love to visit your operation! Please reach out if you would be willing to partner in shaping the future of butter beans.
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