Decade Milestones


Establishment of bean breeding program at Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station, Michigan State College under the direction of Dr. Spragg.

Release of Robust navy bean variety in 1915. Robust was a line selected yield, uniformity and resistance to virus from among a lot of commercial beans.

Active program in navy bean strain testing and breeding at MSU.

Release of Michelite navy bean variety in 1938. Michelite was the first bred variety released by MSU.

Attempts to use X-rays to generate novel genetic variability useful in bean breeding.

Release of Sanilac navy bean in 1956. Sanilac was the first bush navy bean released by MSU.

Release of series of early season bush navy bean varieties, Seaway, Gratiot, and Seafarer, destined for European markets via the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Release of Montcalm dark red kidney bean in 1974. Montcalm was the first halo blight resistant kidney bean which revitalized that industry in Northern Michigan.

Class diversification in black and pinto beans. Release of first black, pinto, great northern bean varieties, Domino, Black Magic, Sierra and Alpine by MSU.

Broad adoption of the full-season, high-yielding, upright short vine navy and black bean varieties by growers.

Facts and Figures

Average bean yield in Michigan around the turn of the last century was less than eight cwt (13 bushel) per acre and the average price of $1.50 per bushel (10 year average) generated an income of under $20.00 per acre to growers1. Contrast that with the record 1999 state average of 20 cwt per acre with an average price of $18.00 per cwt for a grower gross income approaching $400.00 per acre. This represents a 150% increase in bean yields in Michigan over a 100 year period for an average increase in yield of 1.5% per annum.

1 Raven, W.F. 1910. Bean production. Mich. State Agric. College Expt. Stat. Bulletin 259.