The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Research peanut breeding program has been busy, releasing four new varieties in the past two years to meet producers’ needs, according to the state breeding researchers.

The AgriLife Research peanut breeding team is led by Michael Baring, AgriLife Research assistant research scientist in College Station; Mark Burow, Ph.D., AgriLife Research peanut geneticist in Lubbock; and Charles Simpson, Ph.D., AgriLife Research professor emeritus and peanut breeder, Stephenville.

Tamrun OL11 was released last July, led by Baring’s team in College Station. Also submitted were three new lines for release as cultivars this year, Tamrun OL12 and Schubert, developed under leadership of Burow’s team in Lubbock, and the Webb variety, developed under leadership of Simpson’s team in Stephenville, noted Kay Ledbetter in the news article issued by Texas AgriLife and reproduced below.

All four of the new varieties are high oleic, meaning longer shelf life because of reduced tendency towards rancidity, Burow said. The oil is similar in composition to olive oil, which is known to reduce the incidence of heart disease.

Tamrun OL11, developed and released in 2011, has a much higher total of sound, mature kernels, which equate to grade, than any variety previously released by AgriLife Research, Baring said. It also has as good or better resistance to sclerotinia blight than other varieties.

Foundation seed is grown through the Texas A&M Foundation Seed Service, which signs licenses with one or more of four peanut seed companies in the state to grow the registered seed and further market it as certified seed, said Steve Brown, Foundation Seed Service program director.

Two new varieties were expected to be farther along in the foundation/seed production cycle, but due to poor production weather the past two seasons, the new varieties will not be commercially available in large quantities until 2015, according to Brown.

One of these, Tamrun OL12, is targeted for West Texas, which is higher in latitude and elevation than southern peanut-growing regions. The West Texas environment has cooler nighttime temperatures despite warm daytime temperatures.

“These environmental factors cause later crop maturity in peanuts, which can affect all commercial runner types in the West Texas production area,” Burow said. “In some years, there is a tendency for off-flavors, notably a fruity-fermented flavor that results from drying immature peanuts under warm daytime temperatures.”

The earlier maturity of Tamrun OL12 is expected to reduce the flavor problem, he said, adding tests by flavor panels have demonstrated reduced off-flavors in this variety compared to other varieties.

Schubert is a variety named after the late Mike Schubert, Ph.D., a longtime AgriLife Research plant physiologist in Lubbock. This variety offers increased yield potential, averaging 500 pounds per acre better than current Spanish varieties available, as well as grading approximately 2 percentage points higher, Burow said.

The Spanish-type peanuts are limited in markets and are typically grown in the West Texas region, primarily for the candy market, Baring said.

Webb, also in the breeder seed-increase stage, is the first high oleic nematode-resistant peanut released by the AgriLife Research program, Simpson said. It has moderate resistance to sclerotinia blight and can be grown across the state’s peanut regions. This variety was named after Mary Webb, a longtime executive officer of the Texas Peanut Producers Board.

Baring said he plans to have another line to release in the next year, and Burow expects to release the first high-oleic Valencia peanut next year and a high-oleic Virginia type in a couple of years. Simpson’s work currently revolves around transferring desirable genes from the wild peanut collection for improvement of cultivated varieties.

“It seems the producers’ biggest push now is drought tolerance, and while we are working hard on that, it is a long process to get varieties that address decreased water availability,” Baring said. “In the next few releases, our main focus will still be on disease resistance and increasing yields.”