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Messages - Joseph Lofthouse

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Plant Breeding / Re: Sunflower - Giant Russian.
« on: 2019-03-23, 04:39:26 PM »
For me, lodging is most commonly associated with the stem snapping off a few inches above ground level. Sometimes, they will lodge by the roots pulling out of the ground. I'm not doing much selection against leaning over, as long as the head stays off the ground.

I grew up with sunflower disks that were extremely hard to shell. I was super-startled the first time i encountered the easy shelling trait. It immediately became a primary selection criteria.

The goldfinches here love sunflower seeds, and hanging upside down  to eat, but they haven't figured these out (yet). I might have seen a titmouse once. They are not common at all around here. Last year, only one head was missing some seeds due to bird predation. The disk was bowed, rather than flat.

Plant Breeding / Re: Sunflower - Giant Russian.
« on: 2019-03-22, 11:48:56 PM »
Richard: Some years ago, you mentioned the benefit of heads pointing straight down. As a result,  I adopted that same strategy in my sunflowers. Sure keeps the birds off them.

I haven't been paying attention to seed color in my giant sunflowers. They are mostly black, with occasional striped seeds.

One of the most important traits to me has been ease of shelling. I like to go out into the field, while the heads are still damp, and rub the seeds, and have them easily fall from the disk. It's much easier for me to dry seeds than it is to dry disks. Especially in cool/damp fall weather.

I am selecting for larger disks, and thicker stalks. Seems like they are kinda related.

Plant Breeding / Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (early stage)
« on: 2019-03-18, 01:20:40 PM »

Sweet potatoes seem like one of the most genetically diverse species that I have worked with. In other words, the best answer I can provide is: It depends. I have had sweet potatoes that flower all summer long. Gloriously flowering things, and others that don't flower at all. My primary selection criteria for any breeding project is seediness. The plant has to produce seeds for a breeding project to exist at all. After I can reliably grow seeds, then I'll start selecting for other traits.

Plant Breeding / Re: Wild Onions & Breeding with them
« on: 2019-03-17, 10:50:45 PM »
I thought that I would try recreating the Egyptian Onion cross by interplanting Allium fistulosum and Allium cepa. They flowered at completely different times. So to attempt the cross, I'd need to store pollen, or shift the flowering times. My A cepa are a genetically diverse landrace, so there is diversity in flowering times. The A fistulosum were an inbred variety, so I might explore different cultivars  of A fistulosum that might flower at different times.

Plant Breeding / Re: Wild Onions & Breeding with them
« on: 2019-03-14, 09:05:51 AM »
It is said that  Allium canadense has 14 sets of chromosomes, and that Allium cepa has 16 sets. Different numbers of chromosomes generally makes inter-species crossing very difficult.


I am also selecting sweet potatoes for storage under conditions which are available to me. Which means inside a closed cardboard box in an unheated (above 60 F) bedroom.

Community & Forum Building / Re: The business of seed growing
« on: 2019-03-09, 11:39:14 AM »
Is there a possibility to grow wild species on your land that are highly lucrative as wildlands seed?

Plant Breeding / Re: Quality Ornamental / Food Crops
« on: 2019-03-09, 10:19:52 AM »
One of the side-projects that I expect to emerge from the Beautifully Promiscuous and Fruity Tomato project is tomatoes with huge decorative flowers and unusual foliage. If that happens it will be both edible and decorative.

I get a lot of comments from people that they are keeping my dried beans (sold in glass jars) as decorations in their kitchens rather than eating them. Mixes of species work very well for decorative purposes. That seems like too much labor to grow compared to corn or poppy seed heads. Ha! I bet that I could sell corn seed in jars, as a decoration, rather than as food, and get much higher prices.

Aloe vera, and cactus can grow for years in the same pot.

Plant Breeding / Re: Lima Beans
« on: 2019-03-08, 07:53:15 PM »
Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties lists two references for crossing rate in lima's: a) 0-80% by bees. b) less than 18%.

Plant Breeding / Re: Lima Beans
« on: 2019-03-08, 09:35:10 AM »
Lima beans are one of those species that barely survives on my farm.

Here's what my entire 2018 harvest looked like. I've grown two generations of seed so far without weeding. That's encouraging.

Plant Breeding / Re: Salsify
« on: 2019-03-01, 07:02:12 AM »
In the wildlands around here, salsify with yellow flowers, and salsify with purple flowers grow in the same patches. For whatever that's worth....

Plant Breeding / Re: Blight Resistance in Potatoes and Tomatoes
« on: 2019-02-28, 09:41:31 PM »

A progress report on my blight tolerance tomato trails. The goal of the project is to create a self-incompatible population of tomatoes, so that every seed will be a new F1 hybrid in each generation, which will make it easy to trial hundreds of thousands of new varieties for tolerance to things like blights, insects, frost, soil, weather, etc...

So far, I have recruited about 90 volunteers to grow out seeds from the third generation descendants of the interspecies tomato crosses. Each volunteer got about 50 seeds. About 70% of them were distributed to organic growers in the eastern usa who told me that they have tremendous disease problems when growing tomatoes. I asked for seeds back from untreated plants that survive the diseases.

I distributed bulk field-run seed, so some of them will be self-incompatible, some will be self-compatible, and some will have muddled traits. I'm only asking for seed return from plants with promiscuous type flowers. In any case, some of the self-compatible varieties that are not of interest to me, may be very worthwhile to people who like growing that kind of tomato.

We are growing a crop of these overwinter in a warmer climate, which were selected to be the best of the best regarding promiscuous pollination and self-incompatibility. They aren't getting blight tolerance testing this winter. The winter grow out is purely about selection for promiscuous flowers and self-incompatibility. Those are the most important traits to me at this point in the project. Once I have a self-incompatible population, with promiscuous flowers, then I'll start selecting for other traits.  It's looking like sweet, fruity, high-ummami fruits will be emerging from this project. Fruits whose flavor has little in common with domestic tomatoes.

Here's hoping that this summer's bight tolerance trails provide useful data and germplasm. If nothing else they may help us better understand how to do this type of free-lance participatory plant selection and breeding.

Here's a photo from a report the grower sent. My, how promiscuous.

Plant Breeding / Re: Transform tetraploid into diploid?
« on: 2019-02-28, 03:11:16 PM »

Culturing pollen is the easiest and most common way to half the ploidy of a variety.


Just wondering has anyone used salt/water mixes for seperating flint and flour corns?

I have used sugar/water mixes for separating different kinds of sweet corn. It seems to have worked well. Sugar is more soluble in water, so I found it easier to work with.

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