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Royalties For Breeding New Vegetable Varieties

 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands
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Among independent plant breeders, we have an informal code of conduct regarding royalties for developing new varieties of plants. It goes something like this.

5% of gross sales of seeds are paid to the plant breeder that developed the variety.

For example: I developed a variety of squash called "Lofthouse Landrace Moschata". It is being grown, and sold as seed by Carol Deppe of Fertile Valley Seeds. Carol sends a royalty to me for developing the variety. She does all the farming, harvesting, cleaning, marketing, packaging, mailing, etc...

As a market farmer, I have sent royalty payments to plant breeders who developed varieties that I sell as vegetables at market. For example; to Alan Bishop who developed Astronomy Domine Sweet Corn. It is my favorite market corn. There was no expectation from Alan that I send a royalty payment to him, but I wanted to thank him for developing the variety.

From time to time, someone sends me a gift, with a note attached saying something like, "Thanks for developing Frosty Sweet Corn. It is the only corn that has ever produced here!" They are totally unexpected, but oh so sweet. And to a subsistence farmer, every dollar or silver dime is greatly appreciated.

I am delighted when a small seed company or family farm grows out my varieties and sells seed from them. I am even more delighted when they send a royalty payment. 5% is a small enough amount that it is hardly missed by the grower, but large enough in the aggregate to be really valuable to the plant breeder.

So go ahead and grow out my varieties, and sell the seed. Royalty payments are tremendously helpful to me.

And to the market farmers that grow my varieties and sell them as vegetables, I'd welcome royalties from you also.
 
Su Ba
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Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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Ok Joseph, what varieties do you have available for us small time seed producers? I grow a large selection of beans, corn, peas, tomatoes, and winter squash/pumpkin seed, plus a smattering of others. I sell my surplus via the farmers markets. And while my selection is large, my total volume is low. But I'd still be willing to pay you your royalty.

So what do you have that would interest me?
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands
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Su Ba wrote:So what do you have that would interest me?


My list of released varieties is at:
http://garden.Lofthouse.com/seed-list.phtml

Our soils, climate, and bugs are about as opposite as can be. I have focused intensely in selecting varieties that thrive in a cold, short-season, high-altitude, low-humidity, desert environment with alkaline clayish soil. Sometimes I get reports that my stuff does really well in other areas. For example, my moschata squash doesn't have much resistance to downy mildew, however, it comes on so fast, that it can produce a crop before succumbing. My weeding is horrid. So my plants have to spring out of the ground and grow vigorously in order to reproduce. I get reports of harvests from people that threw my seeds in a pasture and ignored them and still got a harvest.

Sometimes I get reports that my stuff does terrible in other places... For example, someone sent me photos of my sugary enhanced sweet corn from Malaysia. They were tasseling at about 2 feet tall. It's so hot there, that the growing degree days were accumulating at an astonishing rate, and the plant couldn't grow fast enough to keep up, so it bolted immediately. I never thought that slow-bolting might be a trait that would be useful in corn! A different variety of my corn was grown in Belize. It thrived. The ancestors of Harmony Grain Corn, and High Carotene Sweet Corn grew in Hawaii for a number of years before arriving in my garden, so they may have what it takes to thrive there. I bet though that they were grown with a full suite of crop-protection chemicals. I grow for subsistence level growing conditions, so I don't use cides nor fertilizers.

My long-time favorite sweet corn is Lofthouse-Astronomy:


My favorite grain corn is Harmony. It lived in Hawaii before it lived with me. So did High Carotene Sweet Corn:



There are hundreds of genotypes in my dry bean landrace:


I really like Lofthouse Landrace Moschata Squash:


My first variety, and the one that I am proudest of is my muskmelons:




It's hard for me to predict ahead of time which varieties will do well in which areas. The grower's habits affect things as much as the soil and climate. Some of my varieties have hundreds of named varieties as ancestors. With so much diversity some family is likely to do well no matter where they are grown.

 
Su Ba
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Posts: 814
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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Joseph, I haven't been successful in accessing your website. I get this error....
You don't have permission to access / on this server.
Additionally, a 403 Forbidden error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.

I'm using an iPad. I've tried four different web browsers. Safari, opera, dolphin, and ghostery.
 
Mike Cantrell
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Location: Mid-Michigan
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Neat idea! I met a fella in the course of my day job and got to chatting with him.

He told me about his friend who bred a Michigan-hardy peach tree with tasty fruits as big as baseballs.

That sounds like a heck of an accomplishment, and so when he said his friend retired comfortably on that royalty stream, I found it believable!
 
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