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Nuna beans are native pole beans from South America. They are day length sensitive requiring 12 hours of light per day to produce a crop. They are NOT adapted to temperate climes.
Nuna beans are unique in "popping" when heated either in a hot air popper or in a pan with a bit of oil. They pop vigorously similar to popcorn but with only 2x to 4x expansion in volume compared to popcorn with 25x to 40x expansion.
There are numerous nuna varieties available in the highlands of Peru and in similar locales near the equator. Over the years, about 50 varieties have been collected and are held in various seed trusts around the world. Quite a few of these are held in restricted trusts that do NOT permit patenting of their germplasm.
About 15 years ago, a company in California crossed a nuna bean to California Light Red Kidney which is a close relative but adapted to U.S. growing conditions. From this cross, they selected a high quality popping bean that has bush habit, daylength neutral, and heavy production. They acquired a patent on the beans. This patent is seriously questionable because it does not meet several patent requirements. Basically, they combined the popping trait with regional adaptation to temperate climate. This is just plain ordinary plant breeding and does not create anything new which is required for a patent. Regardless, the patent is still in force to the best of my knowledge.
Several breeding programs at universities had already crossed nuna beans with local varieties. These programs were active in Oregon, and at least 2 other states. The program at OSU developed a range of breeding lines but cannot release them because of the patent.
I got a sample of the beans from OSU and popped them to see what they are like. The beans are small, about 3/16 inches diameter and slightly oval in shape. They pop into a crunchy nutty snack that tastes pretty good.
Please don't contact me for seed. They are not available at this time.
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