North Carolina State University Peanut Breeder Tom Isleib hit a home run with development of Bailey and Sugg varieties of Virginia-type peanuts, and his next two releases, both high oleic varieties, may be his biggest contribution yet to the peanut industry.
Standing between freshly dug rows of Sullivan and Wynne varieties of peanuts, the North Carolina State plant breeder beams with pride at how well the two new high oleic varieties are doing in the PVQE tests at Virginia Tech’s Tidewater Agricultural Research and Extension Center near Suffolk, Va.
Sullivan is named for former North Carolina State Peanut Specialist Gene Sullivan and Wynne is named for former North Carolina State University peanut breeder and College of Agriculture Dean Johnny Wynne.
Both varieties are in foundation seed stock development and could be available to growers in limited supply as early as 2016.
After going through two or more years of testing at several sites in North Carolina, the two new high oleic varieties were sent to the PVQE test program in 2010.
Maria Balota who heads the PVQE program, says both varieties have performed well in tests in the program.
Prior to release, Sullivan and Wynne had to be approved by the North Carolina State Breeders Release Board. This group includes breeders, pathologists and other scientists who are charged with regulating what does and doesn’t get released as official North Carolina State released varieties.
Then, the two new peanuts had to be approved by the North Carolina State Intellectual Properties Committee.
Both Sullivan and Wynne were released as varieties this spring. They are now in foundation seed stock development.
Registered seedstock in 2014
The two varieties will go into registered seed stock in 2014, then to certified seed in 2015 and should be available in limited supply in the spring of 2016, Isleib says.
How good are they? “These new high oleic varieties don’t have quite the disease package as Bailey or Sugg, but they are at least statistically comparable,” Isleib says.
“Plus, they are high oleic, and that will add some value in the future,” he adds.
In two years of testing in the PVQE program, both the high oleic varieties were more than comparable to other varieties and all the currently available varieties except Bailey and Sugg.
In terms of loan-price value, Sullivan was rated at $629 per acre and Wynne at $573 per acre. Compared to Bailey at $730 per acre, neither is outstanding, but compared to older varieties like CHAMPS at $528 and Gregory at $470 per acre, they look good, even without the extra high oleic value.
Of the two new varieties, Wynne is a bigger, more upright plant than Sullivan.
Though Wynne has statistically more jumbo pods, both of the new varieties are in the 43-44 percent range for extra large kernels (ELK).
By comparison, Bailey was rated at 40.5 and CHAMPS at 37.8 over the same two year period in the PVQE trials averaged over all sites and years.
In disease resistance evaluations, Wynne has ranked a little higher than Sullivan, but both are in the 34-34 range (in tests at the Southern PVQE site only) for leafspot resistance.
Bailey, by far the best currently available variety, was rated at 38 in the same tests, while CHAMPS, another popular variety is rated at 31.
The two new varieties show comparable levels of resistance to CBR, tomato spotted wilt virus and sclerotinia blight as other varieties in the test program.
Will be visible to growers
Growers will get a chance to see Wynne and Sullivan in tests around the Southeast the next two years and can make some evaluations as to how these new varieties will fit into their production programs.
“Over the years it seems that growers ask many subtle questions — not the kind of things we typically look for as breeders. As we move along in our breeding program, this input becomes invaluable, because in the long-run we are developing these varieties for the grower,” Isleib says.
In the past several years, Bailey, and to a lesser extent Sugg, have been the varieties that are used as a model for future varieties.
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“Getting increased disease resistance into these varieties has been the focal point of providing higher yield, more profitable and more sustainable varieties to our growers,” the North Carolina plant breeder says.
Future varieties, he adds, are going to have to have the high oleic characteristics. “I’m sure of that. Coming down the pike is a high oleic version of Bailey. It’s a couple of years out in the development process, but it’s coming,” Isleib says.
“I have no doubt varieties of the future will be high oleic. I think that’s the peanut that buyers want, and growers will have to grow what buyers want,” he adds.
Peanuts have gained the reputation over the past few years as being a heart-healthy food. With heart disease continuing to be the No. 1 killer of Americans, it is natural that consumers will look for products that are tasty, easy to use and relatively inexpensive, and of the three most common — peanuts, red grapes and olive oil — peanuts best meets these requirements.
High oleic varieties have been around for a while, but few contain the production traits desired by growers.
Perhaps the most promising of the high oleic varieties, from the farmer’s point of view are Georgia-09B — runner type and Georgia-08V — a Virginia type, both released by University of Georgia Peanut Breeder Bill Branch in 2009.
High yield potential
At about the same time, Isleib released Bailey, then Sugg, neither of which is high oleic, but both of which contain outstanding disease resistance packages and high yield potential that growers need.
Despite the record rainfall in much of the Southeast peanut belt this year, Bailey in particular, held up well against diseases, and many attribute what appears to be a fair to good peanut crop to the high percentage of these two varieties planted in the region.
Building on the success of Bailey and Sugg, Isleib began testing related, but high oleic varieties, starting with literally thousands of potential types. Of these, several are now in first, second, or fourth year of testing in the Peanut Variety and Quality Evaluation tests at Virginia Tech’s Tidewater Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Suffolk, Va.
In tests in the PVQE, Bailey averaged the top value, coming in at $730 per acre.
“If growers like that about Bailey, they should really love an experimental variety in the same test that consistently averaged better than $800 per acre in early testing in the PVQE trials.
“I really like this variety, experimental line N10046, but until it goes through the PVQE trials for three years my likes and dislikes don’t mean much — it has to perform in these tests before we will consider releasing it as a named variety,” Isleib says.
“I’ve been fooled before, but I think this will be a good one,” he adds.
As peanut growers in the Southeast get into the frenzy that is peanut harvest every year, they can be well assured that even better varieties are on the way.
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