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Dry bean breeder wins Alberta Pulse Industry Innovator Award

Hans-Henning Muendel is the winner of the fourth annual Alberta Pulse Industry Innovator Award.

“Dr. Muendel dedicated his career to developing the dry bean cultivars that now set the standard for small red, black, pinto, and great northern cultivars in Western Canada,” said D’Arcy Hilgartner, chair of Alberta Pulse Growers.

In 1996, there weren’t any dry bean cultivars being grown in Western Canada that had been bred in this region. Over the next 11 years, as the senior research scientist at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s research station in Lethbridge, Muendel and his team developed 14 dry bean cultivars in seven bean classes, and co-developed one other new bean cultivar. His breeding program concentrated on producing early-maturing, upright bean cultivars suited to the short growing seasons of the southern Prairies. Many also had improved resistance to white mould.

“The success of dry bean production in southern Alberta today can be largely credited to his program’s development of local varieties with improved standability and disease resistance,” said Rodney Volk, a director with Alberta Pulse Growers.

“Many of today’s pinto and great northern varieties still have a direct connection to the lines Dr. Muendel developed.”

“It has been 10 years since I retired, and now — with our bean varieties having spread throughout the Alberta dry bean-growing area — on behalf of my breeding team, it is such an honour to accept this award,” said Muendel.

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