Developing peanut varieties is a challenge because plant breeders have to meet the needs of growers, shellers and processors which is hard to do, says North Carolina State University Peanut Breeder Tom Isleib.
“The growers want good yield and good grade because that makes them money. They’d like to have disease resistance so they don’t have to spend so much controlling diseases. The shellers are more interested in pod characteristics and the size and shape and brightness of the hulls. The processors are the ones who tend to be the most concerned about composition and flavor,” Isleib said in a paper presented July 15 at the annual meeting of the American Peanut Research and Education Society in Charleston, S.C.
Through it all, N.C. State is now committed to releasing only high oleic cultivars, Isleib said.
In his presentation in Charleston, Isleib talked about the variety Bailey that was released in 2008 and named in honor of the late N.C. State Plant Pathologist Jack Bailey. Bailey is non-oleic and N.C. State is looking to new releases that offer the agronomic traits of Bailey but are high oleic and meet the needs of shellers and processors.
“Bailey has become very popular among growers in the Virginia-Carolina production area due to its high yield potential and array of disease resistance. Nevertheless, Bailey has been criticized by shellers because it is relatively small-seeded and does not deliver all the jumbo pods and super-extra large and extra large kernels they need for their customers,” Isleib said.
N.C. State has undertaken a back crossing program to develop a high-oleic version of Bailey. Seven lines are currently in the project’s testing program. Isleib said the databases include yield and grade characteristics, disease trails and flavor evaluations of sound mature kernel samples from N.C. State’s agronomic trials conducted by a trained descriptive sensory panel at the university.
In the research, Bailey was contrasted with the mean of the high-oleic lines and the variation among high-oleic lines was tested, according to Isleib.
“Clearly, the high-oleic Bailey backcross derivatives have slightly larger pods and seeds and increased value per acre although yield was not increased,” Isleib said. “Flavor was not significantly affected and disease reactions of the high-oleic lines were similar to those of Bailey. Additional testing will reveal whether or not one of the high-oleic lines would be a suitable replacement for Bailey.”
In the meantime, N.C. State released Emery, a high-oleic cultivar, this spring. Emery is a large-seed Virginia-type variety named in honor of the late Donald A. Emery, formerly the peanut breeder at NCSU.
“Emery has alternate branching pattern, intermediate runner growth habit, and medium green foliage. Emery has approximately 68 percent jumbo pods and 24 percent fancy pods and extra large kernel content of approximately 47 percent,” Isleib said. “Emery has the high-oleic trait patented by the University of Florida. This trait includes modified fatty acid content of the seed oil with elevated oleic fatty acid content and depressed linoleic acid content that increases the shelf life of the seeds and products made from them.”
Isleib said Emery is partially resistant to or tolerant to three of the four most common diseases in the Virginia-Carolina peanut production area: early leaf spot, Sclerotinia blight and tomato spotted wilt. Emery should be considered susceptible to Cylindrocladium black rot (CBR),” Isleib said.
“We’re hopeful Emery will be acceptable to processors when they get this in their plants,” Isleib added. “We’re hopeful that within a few years we will have an all high-oleic array of Virginias here. We’ll keep purifying them to keep the high trait.”