Seed World

Ex Rico 23 Navy Bean and Dry Bean Program named 2012 Seed of the Year

Ex Rico 23 is a navy bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) cultivar, registered in Canada on December 8, 1980. It has historically been one of the most important commercial navy bean varieties in Ontario and has been used as a parent in many bean breeding programs across Canada and therefore contributes significantly in the percentage of many bean varieties.

Over the years, the University of Guelph has been involved in the testing, registering and maintaining the seed of Ex Rico 23 in Canada, since its country of origin is Columbia. Ex Rico 23 and the Dry Bean Program was named Seed of the Year (east division) today at a recognition event at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto.

Ex Rico 23 navy bean has a very unique story behind its history and origin of the variety and has been a major player in the Canadian Agricultural Industry. In the harvest of one set of yield nurseries in CIAT in the early 1970’s, what should have been a black bean, turned out to be white. The black bean was Rico 23, so the white bean was named Ex Rico 23. In Canada, the University of Guelph tested Ex Rico 23 and found it to be a superior variety. It was included in the Ontario White Bean Variety Trials in 1979 and was registered in 1980. Enough certified seed was available for it to be produced commercially by the mid-1980’s. Many successful Canadian bean varieties are derived from crosses with Ex Rico 23 so that the amount of Ex Rico 23 germplasm seen in total bean production is quite significant.

Ex Rico was the first white bean variety introduced through the University of Guelph program. Other white bean varieties that have been developed by the University of Guelph and the AAFC/University of Guelph program include: White Beans- OAC Thunder, OAC Rex, AC Compass, Nautica, OAC Dubin, and Coloured Beans- AD Harblack, AC Clamont, Majesty, OAC Lyrik, and AC Elk.

The current dry bean breeders, Dr Peter Pauls, and Dr Ali Navabi along with their technicians, Terry Ruprt from AAFC Harrow and Tom Smith at the University of Guelph have a substantial program with five main objectives:

  • Reducing grower’s risk of production by developing white and coloured bean varieties with superior productivity, adoptability, and pest/disease/stress tolerance.
  • Increasing grower’s profitability by developing white and coloured bean varieties with superior cooking, compositional and aesthetic properties.
  • Diversifying the genetic base of common beans by performing inter-specific crosses (with for example tepary and scarlet runner beans) and pyramiding genes through multicycle intermating to introduce new traits into beans such as disease resistance, improved nitrogen use efficiency, leafhopper tolerance and nondarkening seed coat.
  • Performing genetic research with the bean germplasm to identify, characterize and utilize genes for bean improvement.
  • Training students in the profession of plant breeding and applied genetic research.

Three other finalists for the east division of Seed of the Year were also recognized at the event. They are OAC Bayfield developed in 1993 by a group of researchers from the University of Guelph led by Professors Wallace Beverdorf and Jack Tanner; Dividend VL Orchard Grass developed by Stephen Bowley and Donna Hancock with the University of Guelph; and DH 410SCN a soybean variety developed by Dr. Gary Ablett from the University of Guelph- Ridgetown Campus institution.

The Seed of the Year competition encourages public breeders to highlight their research accomplishments in developing a new field crop, forage, fruit, vegetable or herb variety. Any publicly developed Canadian variety is eligible to compete.

The competition was designed by University of Guelph and SeCan, with support from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Additional sponsorship was provided by Canadian Seed Growers Association, Quality Seeds Ltd, Ontario Asparagus Growers, Ontario White Bean Producers, Canadian Seed Trade Association, Snobelen Farms, Grain Farmers of Ontario, Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, and the Ontario Potato Board.

For more information, contact Martin Harry, SeCan (519) 423-6435; Candice Van Laecke, Seed of the Year Student Coordinator (519) 983-2340