Biotech Updates

ARS Introduces Improved Winter Peas for Food Use

December 7, 2022

The USDA Agricultural Research Service released its first winter pea varieties developed for food use.

Winter peas, also known as black peas, are annual legumes with excellent nitrogen-fixing abilities. Winter peas are mostly planted in the Pacific Northwest as a cover crop and for additional nitrogen in the soil. Aside from their nitrogen-fixing abilities, winter peas are also valuable for human consumption because of the high protein content with a nearly complete amino acid profile, absence of allergens common in soybeans and peanuts, and low glycemic index. Thus, geneticist Rebecca McGee from the ARS Grain Legume Genetics Physiology Research Unit in Pullman, Washington, and her team, started breeding winter peas in 2010.

The three new varieties released by USDA include the following:

  • MiCa: A cross of a USDA winter pea with Arwyn, a spring pea with resistance to Pea Seed-borne Mosaic Virus that produces large, smooth green seeds.
  • Dint: Produces large, smooth green seeds with a slight dimple.
  • Klondike: Produces large, highly desirable dark yellow seeds invoked by the Klondike's connection to the gold rush era. Yellow seeds mean food producers don't have to remove color during processing.

Read more from USDA-ARS.

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