Beans dealing with drought stress

Photo credit: UC Davis

Matthew Gilbert demonstrates the greenhouse covering for only the young seedlings; the adult plants are exposed to the sun to better simulate drought in the field. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis photo)

Drought and the bean stalk

By Brad Hooker

A team of UC Davis researchers is raising the roof to understand and measure exactly how the two most popular types of dry beans deal with drought stress.

Their goal is to develop a bean that can better withstand the effects of drought and climate change in California and beyond.

Dry beans in California

Dry beans are important for California, which annually produces 60,000 tons of them on about 50,000 acres. In times of drought,  crops like dry beans are often the first to be targeted for fallowing, and they have already been significantly reduced in the parts of California hit hardest by the severe drought.

Although lima beans and the common dry bean, which includes kidney, pinto and other varieties, use a considerable amount of water to achieve high yields, they already have some degree of drought tolerance built into their genes.


Crop physiologist and Assistant Professor Matthew Gilbert and graduate student Viviana Medina, both of the Department of Plant Sciences

The best climate-change breed

Gilbert and Medina are confident that their large collection of drought-challenged bean plants will yield the data needed for selecting and developing the best candidates for a new generation of dry bean varieties that can survive drought conditions.

Read the full article: UC Davis


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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