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Lets do collaborative plant breeding!  RSS feed

 
Gilbert Fritz
Posts: 1257
Location: Denver, CO
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I think permies.com should set up some way to work on collaborative breeding projects. There are five difficulties with amateur plant breeding, all of which could be solved by collaboration.

There are those with lots of knowledge and experience, and those with lots of time. Often, they are not the same person.

Plant breeding takes lots of time and space in the later stages of some projects. An experienced plant geek could start lots of interesting projects, but never be able to finish them all.

Genetic material can be difficult to find.

And, a single interesting cross could generate a whole new variety (or species!) But if it is solely developed in one location, it will only be adapted to that area. If the F1 material were shared, many locally adapted sub varieties could be generated.

Continuity is a problem; a lifetime of work can be wiped out when an individual dies or a company collapses.

If we want plants for a sustainable future: perennial vegetables and grains, domesticated wild species, new species from wide crosses; we will have to work together. I am not an expert, but if an expert needed somebody with space, time, and enthusiasm to work on a breeding project, I would certainly be interested. And I think there are lots of experts (and amateurs) here at permies.com.

Please let me know if you are interested.
 
Gilbert Fritz
Posts: 1257
Location: Denver, CO
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Also, in the past fifteen years, lots of interesting companies have been founded, specifically to breed and introduce new public domain varieties, including perennial vegetables and other unusual crops. However, most of them have collapsed; Peter's seed and research, Seeds Blum, Meristem Seeds, Eric Toensmeier's Company, and several others.

Breeding a new and better Good king Henry plant does not seem to be the path to financial success. But a group of the sort I would like to initiate could have all the advantages of a company while not having to make a profit.
 
Victor Johanson
Posts: 371
Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
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I'm getting ready to try landrace gardening. There's a guy named Joseph Lofthouse in Utah who has written a fascinating series of blog entries on the subject at Mother Earth News:

http://www.motherearthnews.com/search.aspx?tags=+Joseph+Lofthouse

For some time I've been aware that no one in the establishment is really breeding anything appropriate to my location. We settle for stuff bred for Canada and other places in the deep south, but these cultivars are a compromise for us and often don't perform. Joseph's approach to this situation is to focus on developing local landraces--genetically diverse populations that may produce less and be more variable, but are more robust and reliably adapted to a given location, requiring fewer inputs. The rationale is that modern breeding centers around factors not necessarily relevant to the goals of guys like him and me. It's a very interesting concept and it sounds like his results have been impressive. I'm going to pursue this strategy myself. There's lots of discussion on home breeding over at http://alanbishop.proboards.com/ , and it would be great to get that kind of collaboration going here too.
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1621
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Victor - thanks for the info on landraces. It is quite an inspiring idea to select for traits well adapted to your own locality. I've grown a fair few sets of packet seeds and been disappointed with them. There are a few things I'd like to breed for. A perennial bean would be one (runner beans have weak perennial traits apparently), but it would need to adapt well to our local conditions.
 
William Whitson
Posts: 50
Location: Washington coast
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There's nothing wrong with doing it here as well, but you might want to check out the Homegrown Goodness forums for a community of people doing a lot of breeding and landrace development.
 
Gilbert Fritz
Posts: 1257
Location: Denver, CO
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Thanks for the direction to the homegrown goodness forum; looks great.
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1621
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Ok, I'm looking into tomatoes - I think a landrace for growing outdoors in my area would be wonderful. I have very little experience of growing toms other than a few feeble plants in grow bags and pots in the greenhouse years ago (long before I found permies).

I think all of my previous problems would be cured by growing outdoors (sporadic watering, lack of feeding etc...).

So this year I'm going to get about 10 different tomato varieties and plant them up to make a whole bunch of deliberate F1 crosses. I'll be aiming for indeterminate early varieties as well as for some with disease resistance. In the spirit of a landrace I'll be getting a mix of heirlooms and some modern F1 hybrids (hey, someone else has already done the hard work of a first cross!).

If anyone else wants to get involved it would be good to swap seeds with someone conducting their own landrace with different starting genetics.
 
John Polk
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Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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For breeding tomatoes, I suggest this talk presentation by Tom Wagner. He has been breeding tomatoes and potatoes for 6 decades.
This video will only give an interesting introduction.
More info can be seen at Tom Wagner's blog site (Tater Mater)
He is responsible for many varieties available today, including Green Stripe and Green Zebra.


 
2017 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs
http://richsoil.com/pdc
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