NEARLY 80 YEARS AGO, 'Kitchenette' — an early maturing winter squash — was the first vegetable introduced from the vegetable breeding program of the U of M Agricultural Experiment Station. Since then, numerous vegetables have been introduced, with improved disease resistance and early maturity suitable for growing in our North Central region. These new gene sources use less garden and agricultural chemicals. 'Mincu' cucumber, 'Minnesota Midget' muskmelon, 'Greengold' and 'Rainbow' winter squash, are heirloom or historical varieties that are still sold by specialty growers.


Cucumber   'Mincu' 'Midget'     1937 - 40
Green Pea     5 gene sources     1976 - 94
Muskmelon   9 varieties            1945 - 84
Parsley     'Minncurl'     1960
Parsnip     'Andover'     1984
Pigeonpea     3 varieties     1995
Potato     17 varieties     1933 - present
Snap Bean     'Duluth'     1940
Southernpea     3 varieties     1986 - 1994
Sweetcorn     8 gene sources     1980 - present
Tomato     4 varieties    1939 - 1965
Winter Squash     5 varieties    1939 - 1994

*=varieties available from retail nurseries, those without are heirloom varieties with limited availability

Continue on to 150 Years of Grapes

Peas being processed.
In the 1970s–1990s, classical plant breeding methods at the University produced green garden pea and sweet corn varieties as improved, early maturing gene sources especially resistant to insects and diseases.

Andover parsnip.
'Andover' parsnip is named after the Anoka County truck farming area where tons of parsnips, carrots and other vegetables are grown each year. It has become a leading U.S., Canadian, and European variety and is resistant to brown canker, a common root disease. Andover has long, slender roots and a small, rounded, raised crown.

Irrigated potato field.
Potatoes are grown on 80,000 acres each year, and Minnesota is a leading producer of seed potatoes, ranking third in the nation. Each year, U of M scientists evaluate thousands of potential varieties with improved traits.

Honeybush muskmelon.
'Honeybush' muskmelon is an early maturing, short vine or bush variety that Burpee featured for home gardeners in 1983.