Cool food designed to pop
Student researchers are also breeding new varieties of food. Ten years ago, UC Davis students launched a project to breed a pepper with the taste and texture of a jalapeño, but with an enlarged cavity like a bell pepper. Why? It allows much more room to stuff with cheese to truly elevate the popular appetizer jalepeño poppers.
The pepper breeding project helped launch the Student Collaborative Organic Plant Breeding Education program, or SCOPE, which brings students and faculty together for field-based plant breeding to develop new varieties of crops at the organic student farm.
“It’s been 10 generations since the initial cross of our jalapeño popper line and it’s been six generations for our other bell pepper breeding lines,” said Laura Roser, a UC Davis graduate and current junior specialist for SCOPE. “These two lines are essentially ready to release as a variety at this point.” She said she wants to send seeds from these lines to different seed companies and hopes they will agree to sell them in 2022 or 2023.
In 2020, the breeding program also released six new varieties of organic beans that proved to be sustainable, high-yielding and disease-resistant. The release has been a success, with several local bean growers taking interest in the new varieties.
With contributions from Emily C. Dooley and Tiffany Dobbyn