Edible Grain Legumes for Organic Cropping Systems

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Ceres Trust Graduate Student Grant Annual Report

Craig Sheaffer, Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, cooperating with
Tom Michaels, Department of Horticultural Science; and
Kathryn Draeger, Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships,
University of Minnesota, St. Paul


Field beans, or dry edible beans, are types of the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.). They are members of the legume family and have characteristics such as seed born in pods, biological nitrogen fixation, and protein-rich vegetation and seed. Field beans are harvested when dry and removed from pods, in contrast to green or snap beans in which immature green pods and seeds are harvested green and consumed as a vegetable. The common bean was domesticated by Native Americans nearly 6,000-8,000 years ago in the Tehuacan Valley of Mexico and in the Peruvian Andes. Field beans were an important protein source in diets and complement energy supplied by corn, which was also domesticated in southern Mexico. Field beans had been dispersed by migration and trading, and when European explorers arrived in the new world, field beans were found growing from South America into Canada.

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