OSU vegetable breeder goes for the “Wow!”
When developing new vegetable varieties, OSU’s Jim Myers enjoys solving culinary problems that people with discerning palates didn’t even know they had. While disease resistance is always a concern, developing varieties that are exciting to farmers and chefs also pays off.
One of OSU’s pending releases is an early-maturing and mild habanero pepper designed to weather the Pacific Northwest’s cool summers and appeal to eaters who love habanero flavor but not the spicy heat usually associated with it. Myers is also working with the Northern Organic Vegetable Improvement Collaborative (NOVIC) to release a broccoli variety that is both vigorous without pesticides and non-hybrid, enabling farmers to save its seed.
One of Myers’s major accomplishments is the Indigo Rose tomato. This variety has quickly attracted worldwide attention, mainly due to its striking, deep purple appearance and for being loaded with anthocyanin, an antioxidant associated with reducing risk of cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline, and cancer. Myers’ colleague Lane Selman promotes varieties like Indigo Rose via the Culinary Breeding Network, which brings trial-plot farmers and chefs together to celebrate fine cuisine. Selman has utilized webinars, blogs, Instagram, even a “Variety Showcase” public event—anything to attract public attention to OSU’s tomatoes and other top-notch, disease-resistant vegetable plants that produce unique and delicious fruits.
Source: James Myers, OSU Baggett-Frazier Professor of Vegetable Breeding
Jim Myers talks about his work in this Oregon’s Agricultural Progress story. See also this slide show for more about Myers’s work and the impact of OSU’s vegetable breeding program on Northwest cuisine.