Montana State University

MSU pea variety offers growers opportunities to enter health-food market

April 20, 2012 -- MSU News Service

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
msunews@montana.edu
BOZEMAN - Researchers in Montana State University's College of Agriculture have bred a yellow dry pea variety that could be used in developing healthful foods for diabetics and which is now available for licensing to interested growers and entrepreneurs.

The pea variety, technically known as MSUPBLB10-10, is high in amylose starch, which, when included in food products, can lower their glycemic index. The glycemic index measure a food's impact on blood sugar. Foods with a low glycemic index can help diabetics avoid spikes in their blood sugar and thereby lessen the chances of being afflicted with some of the long-term symptoms of diabetes, such as nerve damage, blindness, kidney disease and heart disease.

The pea variety offers growers an opportunity to expand into the higher-priced specialty health food market, particularly the diabetic market where low glycemic index products are desired. The pea variety grows well in climates with the short, cool, growing seasons, like that of the Northern Great Plains. The pea variety also has better yield, and its stem is less likely to bend at or near ground surface - a property known as lodging resistance - than the Amigo high-amylose dry pea. Peas that lodge easily can result in dramatically lower crop yield.

The pea variety is a semi-leafless, semi-dwarf, dry pea with medium test weight. It bears most of its pods in the top third of the plant, facilitating mechanical harvesting. The pea's pointed pod may help reduce pod shattering during harvest.

The pea produces a whitish flour that does not darken after processing into noodles and should combine well with wheat or other flours to increase protein, reduce gluten and reduce the glycemic index of the final product.

The pea is the latest discovery available for licensing at MSU. For more details and to inquire about licensing, interested companies and entrepreneurs should contact Nick Zelver with the MSU Technology Transfer Office at (406) 994-7868, http://tto.montana.edu/technologies or by e-mail at nzelver@montana.edu. MSU requests that interest be expressed in writing by May 15.

Currently, MSU has 204 licenses from technologies developed by faculty and researchers. Of those, 93 licenses are with Montana companies.

Tracy Ellig at (406) 994-5607 or tellig@montana.edu