Flash

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John Withee described ‘Flash’ in his Heirloom Beans catalog as a 1950 introduction of the University of New Hampshire developed by Professor J. R. Hepler. Professor J. R. Hepler was a plant breeder and introduced John Withee to the term “heirloom” applied to vegetables. The University of New Hampshire developed this bean in an attempt to create a bush bean that set early with attractive pods filled with equally attractive seed for New Hampshire gardeners. It was achieved by selecting from a cross of ‘Gage’, a New Hampshire horticultural strain with bright seeds but poorly-colored pods, and ‘French Horticultural’, which had light-colored seeds and bright pods. ‘Flash’ was released to the public in 1946. This variety later became the parent of several other UNH introductions including ‘Scarlet Beauty’, ‘Red Shellout’, and ‘Shelleasy’. ‘Flash’ was described as “a favorite in New Hampshire” by the Billy Hepler Seed Company who offered this bean during their entire period of operation (1947-1962). The Billy Hepler Seed Company was started by fourteen-year-old Billy Hepler, “America’s Youngest Seed Grower”, and continued by his father, Professor J.R. Hepler. The company specialized in garden seeds for northern climates, and many of the varieties offered were introductions of the Horticulture Department at the University of New Hampshire, and often bred by Professor J.R. Hepler, Doctor Albert F. Yeager, and Professor Elwyn M. Meader. John Withee, clearly a fan of their breeding work, stated ‘Flash’ was a “beautifully colored horticultural bean… bush matures seed early.”