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New southernpeas developed by ARS, cooperators

2 new varieties of southernpeas -- WhipperSnapper and GreenPack-DG -- boast attractive colors, pleasing textures and flavors, plus nutrients like protein and folate, a B vitamin.

Two new varieties of southernpeas—WhipperSnapper and GreenPack-DG—boast attractive colors, pleasing textures and flavors, plus nutrients like protein and folate, a B vitamin. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) research leader Richard L. Fery co-developed these superior southernpeas with Blair Buckley from Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge and Dyremple Marsh, from Lincoln University, Jefferson City, Mo.

Fery described the research that led to the rich green color of GreenPack-DG in the June issue of HortScience. WhipperSnapper is featured in the August issue of HortScience, according to Fery. He's based at ARS' U.S. Vegetable Laboratory in Charleston, S.C., where he also develops new and improved bell and habañero peppers.

Both southernpeas were offered to seed producers and researchers for the first time in 2006, after years of laboratory, greenhouse and field tests, Fery noted.

Southernpeas technically are beans, not peas. They are sometimes called cowpeas, black-eyed peas, field peas or crowders. Southernpeas appear in traditional southern cuisine in soups, salads, casseroles and fritters, a fried quick-bread.

GreenPack-DG forms long, slightly curved pods that hold 12 plump, olive-green peas, each with a pink eye. It is the only pink-eyed southernpea that has two genes for greenness, not just one. Its "DG" initials stand for "double green."

The double-green feature is the work of genes called green cotyledon and green testa. The genes ensure that the peas won't lose some of their green color while growers are waiting for the pods to become dry enough to machine-harvest and to shell the peas from the pods.

Double-greenness gives GreenPack-DG a significant advantage over Charleston Greenpack, an earlier southernpea from Fery's laboratory that has only one greenness gene. In fact, Fery expects GreenPack-DG to replace the earlier southernpea as a favorite for processing into frozen pea products.

GreenPack-DG resulted from cooperative research conducted by ARS and Western Seed Multiplication, Inc., Wadmalaw Island, S.C.

WhipperSnapper yields pods packed with 14 creamy-white, kidney-shaped peas. It can be picked when the pods are still immature, tender and edible, then sold as fresh snaps. The pods also can be left on the vine until ready to sell with full-sized peas either within the pods, or shelled.

This southernpea flourishes in weather that's too hot for some other beans. Also, it is extremely easy to shell, a feature that should make it especially popular with home gardeners, who typically shell by hand. Larger-scale growers will find the southernpea suitable for mechanical harvesting.

Victor van Buchem | EurekAlert!
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