Tepary beans are among the most drought-tolerant legume crops in the world, but at one time, they were almost an endangered species in the U.S.
Waltram Ravelombola, Ph.D., a Texas A&M AgriLife Research organic and specialty crop breeder at Vernon and in the Texas A&M Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, is one of a few scientists funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service grant to bring tepary beans into modern cropping systems and diets.
The legume — pronounced tep-uh-ree — is an ancient crop native to the northern part of Mexico and the southwestern part of the U.S. The beans can be multiple sizes and colors, like pinto or black beans, but they offer drought tolerance other legumes don't, Ravelombola said.
Teparys can be consumed as beans by humans or as forage by livestock, providing better nutrition content than cowpeas and guar. Like cowpeas and guar, tepary can fix nitrogen in the soil.
Yet currently, Ravelombola said, no large supplies of seed exist to be planted.
[...] However, getting the beans to the point of widespread commercialization won't be an easy process.
Ravelombola said it will take at least eight growing seasons; there could be more than one growing season per year, depending on climate. [...]
Anyone ever eat one? It surprises me that a niche market for them never developed over the decades, or that they didn't find their way to a different part of the globe.