IANR awards

Carlos Urrea receives award
Dr. Carlos Urrea (right) is presented the Omtvedt Innovation Award by Ron Yoder, IANR Interim Vice Chancellor of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Dry bean breeding specialist at Panhandle Center receives Omtvedt Innovation Award

Dr. Carlos Urrea, associate professor and dry bean breeding specialist at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center, has received the Omtvedt Innovation Award from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

The award recognizes IANR faculty who demonstrate exceptional abilities and innovation. Urrea was recognized at an awards luncheon at Lincoln for his research and teaching activities.

Urrea’s dry-bean breeding research program focuses on selecting plants that are multiple-disease-resistant and have desirable qualities related to water efficiency, minimum tillage and more upright architecture, allowing direct harvesting. He has developed germplasm for black beans, Great Northern Beans, chick peas, and Great Northern cultivars.

The Omtvedt Innovation Award is made possible by Leone and the late Neal Harlan in honor of Dr. Irv Omtvedt and his distinguished career at the University of Nebraska.

Urrea has been on the Panhandle Center faculty since 2005. His breeding lines include not only the most common market classes grown in the Panhandle, Great Northern and pinto, but also small red, cranberry, yellow, light red kidney, black, and calima market classes.

Urrea collaborates with the USDA Agricultural Research Service Tropical Agricultural Research Station at Puerto Rico. He started a “shuttle breeding” program, in collaboration with Dr. Tim Porch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS) Tropical Agriculture Research Station in Puerto Rico. He also collaborates extensively CIAT, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture.

In recent years Urrea’s work has focused on developing bean varieties with tolerance to drought and heat. He has developed three Great Northern and a pinto line which all have the potential for heat and drought tolerance along with multiple disease resistance.

In 2008 Urrea’s program released the Great Northern cultivar Coyne, which became commercially available in 2011 and within three years accounted for 25 to 30 percent of the total Great Northern acreage in Nebraska, the nation’s leading producer. Several other breeding efforts are on the verge of producing new commercial cultivars.

Urrea works closely with the UNL Food Center, on nutrient content. He also provides bean samples to the plant pathology department in Lincoln. At the national level, Urrea works extensively with plant breeders, plant pathologists, agronomists, nutritionists and others at a number of land-grant universities as well as the USDA ARS. He is the coordinator of the Cooperative Dry Bean Nursery (CDBN), a national trial of 22 breeding lines in at least 10 locations. He also carries out similar duties as coordinator of the Western Regional Bean Trials in four U.S. locations in Colorado, Idaho, Washington and Nebraska.

Urrea also is interested in sharing knowledge of science, and especially plant breeding, with students at the high school level and sometimes with even younger students. He works with students at Western Nebraska Community College in Scottsbluff, some of whom have become summer workers or interns.

He speaks to Scottsbluff High School to speak to biology classes. During Urrea’s vacation time in his native Colombia, he typically visits local schools, where he talks to science classes about DNA technology.