The Fordhook lima bean is a large-seeded lima bean grown in California for use by vegetable processors as an ingredient in frozen mixed vegetable packs. California represents one of the largest production regions for this bean because of the temperate climate. Unfortunately, as the population of California grows, the land available for producing this relatively low-valued crop continues to diminish. To overcome the loss of productive lands, we have initiated two projects, both focused on an increase in productivity. The first project is the improvement of current lines used by one processor. Due to the method of production of the seed bean, as well as the age of current lines in use, plant vigor and uniformity within the fordhook lima bean population has decreased over time. By using a modified single-seed descent method within the population, a certain level of improvement of production lines should be realized. Our second objective is in the development of a more heat-tolerant line, which could be grown in the inner valleys of California, where more land is available. Because of the limited availability of heat-tolerant Fordhook lima beans, we are currently investigating the possibility of using chemical mutagenesis to produce a more heat-tolerant variety.
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