Author Topic: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)  (Read 13334 times)

reed

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #180 on: 2020-05-21, 01:12:49 AM »
Despite the fact of cool, cloudy weather, germination in the outdoor patch of 300 seeds is approaching 20%. The fifty seeds that spent a little time inside but mostly in the cold frame is about 50%, the 200 always in the cold frame is about 25%.

I've been wondering what to say about germination in the event I offer seeds for sale or even for trade. There aren't any federal standards like with other crops. Also I know others have had much higher rates with my seeds using better controlled conditions.

I don't have the set up and equipment to do a controlled germination test plus I don't want plants that required controlled conditions so if I did it they would all be wasted.

Plus although I don't doubt it I haven't seen a germ rate of 80 or 90% with my own eyeballs so I wouldn't want to say that. What would people think if seed was offered for sale with an expected germ rate of 20 or 30%?
« Last Edit: 2020-05-21, 01:14:38 AM by reed »

Ocimum

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #181 on: 2020-05-21, 03:17:51 PM »
I think germination tests are usually done under controlled conditions, testing if the seed has the capacity to germinate. I usually do mine in petri dishes. It is not a guarantee that the seed germinates in your soil or climatic conditions, just that nothing is wrong with the seed itself.

reed

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #182 on: 2020-06-15, 09:48:41 AM »
Gonna have to get my act together and post some pictures of my sweet potatoes this year. I'm officially calling germination rate in the outside experiment at 20%. Quite a few more now but I'm only counting the first sixty to sprout.

Five of them are blooming. Couple years ago I had a plant bloom that small, it grew into a large vine and just kept blooming and blooming. It was a beautiful plant but did not make any eating sized roots. Be interesting to see what these new ones do, I can already tell that at least three of them are of a much more bushy nature.

Also have clones of two very compact growing bushy ones form last year that did make nice storage roots and of the "clump root" habit that I like. I planted two large pots of them and plan to save those seeds separately. A compact habit strain might be the first sub strain I try to isolate out of the population.

whwoz

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #183 on: 2020-06-15, 04:17:14 PM »
It would be good to see your progress Reed, those two compact growers with clump roots sound interesting.   What colour skin/flesh do they have,  I assume that they are tasty and not fibrous otherwise you would not be keeping them separate.

reed

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #184 on: 2020-06-15, 08:10:10 PM »
One of those two has white skin, white flesh, the other has purple skin white flesh. Neither one is very sweet but I'm learning to like the non-sweet ones in various ways, treating them more like potatoes. Fried with garlic or onions is pretty good, texture is odd, very dry and crumbly. Quite pleasant actually, it's just getting used to the different texture from potatoes. They are also good in beef stew, just have to be careful not to cook them very long as they will just disintegrate.

I probably won't keep these two another year as clones. Actually I'm not sure I ever kept one for more than one year as a clone except maybe early on, the one I called Bushy Bloomer. When one I like shows up I clone it the next year to reinforce the desired traits in the next generation of seeds.

Those are planted close together so they can cross a lot plus crossing with all the others but I figure if I save those seeds separately the bush habit will be reinforced. Eventually I hope a nice sweet one with that habit will show up.  Like I said I am learning to like the the non-sweet but still to me a sweet potato is supposed to be sweet.

Right now all my sweet ones tend to have larger vines and I'm OK with that but a bushy sweet one, so long as it also is a good seeder and especially if it is clump root, might change my habit of not propagating long term as clones.
« Last Edit: 2020-06-16, 08:46:46 AM by reed »

reed

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #185 on: 2020-07-10, 08:42:25 AM »
Still haven't got around to editing the pictures but thought I'd do a quick update on my sweet potatoes. Not sure how many I have, I'm guessing about a hundred new ones plus a couple tubs of some cloned from mine last year and three smaller tubs of some new purchased ones.

About 50 of the outside sprouted ones are in individual 3 gallon sized pots. Many of them are blooming and even got some seed pods forming already. The first one to bloom is self pollinating cause it has nearly mature capsules and nothing else was blooming when they started. I tagged that one but now they have grown and intermingled too much to mess with trying to tag anymore.

I've reported before that at end of year you can un-pot them and remove the big roots and then replant and they will finish maturing seeds. That's when I'll determine those that I want to save seed from separately and the ones I might want to clone. Up till then all the seeds will just be mixed.

Someone gave me some last year that I think might have been Covington and contrary to what I've read they bloomed and set quite a lot of seed. Those seeds have grown into large vine types which isn't my favorite but they are blooming and I'll keep them around for now.

Someone also gave some this year that were distributed at a food bank. Never seen any like them, very spherical and uniform about the size of baseballs and very delicious. May have been treated or something cause I was barely able to coax a couple slips form one. Just got those planted yesterday, hope they bloom.

They are all starting now, but appears a general rule is plants from seeds bloom sooner than plants from slips. Some seedlings bloom with just one ot two sets of true leaves.

Got some really cool "super bush" ones this year but my favorite unfortunately is one of very few not yet blooming. I pulled out a large vine "super bloomer" for the woman to put in one of her flower pots. It looks almost exactly like one I had last year that was a stunningly beautiful plant but made no usable storage roots.

Got one with pink variegated leaves this year, not sure what to do with it. It is a seedling so shouldn't be likely but I worry it could be a disease of some sort. I kept it but moved it's pot away from the others. I'v seen a pink variegated sweet potato before  used as an ornamental and even seen it described as i tricolor instead of i batatas.

Also discovered the first leaf pest I've ever seen, other than Japanese beetles. A little green fuzzy worm little under half inch long, just a couple of them, nothing serious.

I didn't have many volunteers, probably cause I dumped a big pile of wood chips on top of where they grew last year but as I've moved those chips I'm now finding some. Sweet potato seeds must be pretty tough too as I found one volunteer over by where they grew two years ago.

I think the first phase of this  experiment, establishing that that can be grown from seed and building up a diverse stock of seed is about over.  Especially if some or all of the new purchased ones bloom this year I'm gonna consider my grex diverse enough to work just within if from now on.

On the other hand now that I have what I'm calling "super bloomers" and "super seeders" it might be worthwhile to try forcing bloom from some other commercial clones. Papers I'v read discourage that to some degree because of carrying non-blooming into future generations but I think if that did happen I could overcome it easy enough.

Then too, I've see so much diversity in successive generations that I wonder if more new material is even necessary. It's almost like any two or three mixed into a grex will yield many many unique new plants. Nearly all possibilities and traits I've read about seem to already be showing up. Maybe any three or four mixed up good is the same as having them all. I started with four kinds back in 2014 and have new ones show up all the time that are completely different from any of their ancestors.

 
« Last Edit: 2020-07-10, 08:46:12 AM by reed »

Chris Morrison

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #186 on: 2020-08-16, 12:45:18 AM »
Hey Mark - why 3 gallon tubs? I was thinking more 5gallon fabric tubs, to allow full root development, and so to easily weigh/grade each plant at harvest time? Starting them inside soon, 300 odd seed to plant, the rest went to Richard, so out of 300 seed, might have 200 odd transplants? Appreciate your advice.

reed

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #187 on: 2020-08-16, 02:33:07 AM »
I use the smaller ones mostly just to have room for more of them in my limited space and so it's less work getting them filled with good growing mix.

I haven't moved on yet to selecting specifically for good root development or yield, I'm still focused mostly on developing a line that is easy to grow from seed. Still, the little tubs seem to be doing a good job in the root selection process too. A big focus there for me is what I call the clump root trait where the roots are all together directly under the primary stem. In a little tub that is easy to see cause they are all contained in the tub.

*It's critical if using small ones, even 5 gallon size that the drain holes are buried under the ground so they don't dry out from the bottom and that they not be moved at all once the plants are established. The feeder roots exit the drain holes so the plant isn't really growing just in the tub.

I've got about 100 in small tubs this year, the most I've ever had. Plus about 50 more in much bigger tubs and some I didn't a tub for still in the ground.

I can easily dump the small tubs, keeping the plant in tact, remove the storage roots and repot the plant. They have to be watered a lot but they keep maturing seed until frost. In another month or so I will sort out all the best seeders and do that. Those that have nice roots, inside the tub will be repotted and semi-isolated from the others. Seeds that they have maturing at the time and especially any that form after will be saved separately from the overall mix collected up till then.


Richard Watson

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #188 on: 2020-08-21, 07:18:52 PM »
In comparison to past growing seasons how has this one gone for weather = seed production?
Changeable climate manly during winter & spring - just under 500mm average yearly rainfall. 20 years of soil improvements plus sub soil top soil reversal means my garden beds are about half metre deep. Below that is 100's of metres of alluvial out wash from the Southern
alps

Zach E.

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #189 on: 2020-08-21, 08:57:38 PM »
Hi all,

This is my second season growing sweet potatoes from true seed. Two seasons ago I collected a very few seeds (about a dozen) from a friend's garden where she cultivates 100+ varieties. From those seeds, 4 plants made it to maturity last season. I was able to collect another handful of seeds from them. And Michael Jennings in California helped me out by sharing some of his sweet potato seeds.

This season I am cultivating 30+ seedlings, in addition to maybe 12-15 cultivars varieties. Some of my seedlings have profusely flowered and seed set has developed very well, so I hope to harvest several hundred seeds this season. Leaf shapes and color are all over the place, as you will see in the attached pictures. I reached the limit with how many pictures I can share, otherwise there would be more. I look forward to seeing what kinds of roots are revealed come digging time.

When I planted I did so with rather high density. Plants were spaced only about a foot apart. It didn't seem to hurt anything, as every plant is majorly vigorous and the vines are crawling everywhere. I have to chop some of them along the south side of the bed as they are growing into an area where I have tree grafts and don't want them there. Poor planning on my part. Luckily, if anything, sweet potatoes actually like having their foliage abused or trimmed back. On the north side of the bed I am growing taro eddoes from a Korean market. This low-oxalate cultivars overwinters in my 6b climate! And seems to be happy despite a profusion of sweet potato vines sprawling underneath the taro canopy.

My climatic zone is 6b, right on the edge of 7. Half of the seedlings were planted out about June 1st and the other half maybe a week or two later. Originally I had sown nearly all the seeds in a flat and put them in a greenhouse around April, to help them germinate earlier. But I suspect that this didn't actually make a whole lot of difference, as some of the seeds that were left in a flat outside had also germinated and put on a set or three of true leaves by about the start of June. That was my goal -- to get seedlings with true leaves ready to planting at the same time it is recommended to put slips in the ground in my climate: June 1st. Next season I plan to just sow the seeds directly into a bed and just let them germinate naturally.

Now my dilemma is how many varieties to keep, and why.
« Last Edit: 2020-08-21, 09:02:40 PM by Zach E. »

Richard Watson

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #190 on: 2020-08-21, 09:58:16 PM »
They look really good Zack, mind you, you have got some bloody good deep soil where you are.
That purple looking leaf one looks a bit like our BB line.
Changeable climate manly during winter & spring - just under 500mm average yearly rainfall. 20 years of soil improvements plus sub soil top soil reversal means my garden beds are about half metre deep. Below that is 100's of metres of alluvial out wash from the Southern
alps

reed

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #191 on: 2020-08-22, 01:50:48 AM »
In comparison to past growing seasons how has this one gone for weather = seed production?
Weather has been great for seeds so far. I've been been real busy and not diligent about collecting every day so will probably have lots of volunteers next year. I'm getting caught up now on other stuff some and the height of the seeds production is starting so I'll be spending more time in the patch. Gonna go out today and clip back a lot of leaves. That makes it easier to find the seeds and doesn't seem to reduce production of them or roots.

Zach, those look good. I sent Mike Jennings some seeds a few seasons ago and I'm pretty sure he managed to cross them with some others. His climate in California is about perfect I think for seeds or sweet potatoes in general. Friends in Texas and North Carolina had similar good results but they didn't follow up.

You say your at the north edge of zone six?  That pushing it just a little but I had  already been selecting for fast maturity before I sent Mike seeds. Plus I'm aware of folks in Canada who have had success in getting seeds so you are in good shape I think. One of my primary goals is short season maturity so maybe we can hook up some, especially if you see any with more cold tolerance at either end of the season.

I don't know what to tell you on which ones to keep. If all you want is new varieties to clone then you can just keep any that you like. I've discarded lots that might have been good for that but I want to turn them into a short season, seed grown annual, eliminating the requirement of keeping them alive as cuttings or roots either one season to season.  I do keep them as clones sometimes but generally just for a season or two. The one Richard calls BB cuzzie descended from the one I called Bushy Bloomer. I kept it for three or four years because it was such a seed machine but it didn't make much as far as a storage root so it is extinct now. Since then I've had some that were both bushy bloomer and made roots so they replaced it. Any extra good one is cloned for a year or two to back cross into the overall grex but I don't have storage space or anything to do with them so they all go extinct sooner or later.

This year with about 150 new seed grow plants I'm guessing about half are just as seedy as Bushy Bloomer was. Maybe 25% have only just started blooming, I prefer those that start when they are still small. Maybe 10% haven't bloomed at all so even if they do they missed the boat, too little too late for them. Some are way too vigorous in growth, I don't like giant vines and will likely not clone any of them. Some are very seedy so in event they have fantastic roots I could break that rule.

My favorite one in growth habit this year is disappointing n blooming. It only started in last couple weeks and only has a few capsules developing.  But, it is extremely bushy with a very upright habit, it's taller than it is wide and foliage is extremely dense. If it turns out to have good roots I may break the rule of discarding low blooming and clone it for a year or two, I've been keeping it's few seeds and some from other more bushy ones in a separate drying bag.

With about 150,new seedlings this is the first year I'll really be able to establish percentage on all the various traits I'm looking for. Seedy is first importance and I can see already it's in neighborhood of 75 - 80 percent. That's pretty good considering I included some older seed from generations prior to more recent selection. Bushy growth is at least 50%, I'm happy with that too. 

Easy germination is very important too so and I threw around 600 seeds into the project this year to get those 150 plants so that's 25% of my previous seed archive sprouted fast and easy and of course all of this years seeds will come form them and I'm already way past that number collected. Those that sprouted late or that would have sprouted in more heat controlled conditions were discarded. I'm yet to see the % of those that that make good roots and more important the % that make seed & roots.

I'm thinking right now that I might archive all of this years seed and next year direct sow all the rest of the older seed. That would give me a nice archive of seed descended form only easy to sprout stock. Then I can finally declare phase one of the project "Turning Sweet Potatoes into Seed Grown Annuals" complete.
« Last Edit: 2020-08-22, 01:52:20 AM by reed »

Chris Morrison

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #192 on: 2020-08-22, 11:06:09 PM »
Mark, the planter bags I plan to use are eco felt/fabric, so no 'drain holes', but I guess still bury em in a ways, so-as not to dry from bottom up?

reed

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #193 on: 2020-08-24, 02:42:24 AM »
I'm not familiar with the planter bags but yes still important I imagine that they don't dry from the bottom. Will the roots not be able to grow through into the ground? I don't know how that might work, probably OK if the bags are very large or if the plants have the clump root trait but if they are the more spreading root type it might not be.

When I pull up a small pot with the spreading root type they are stuck badly to the ground till the roots break. If I follow those roots I often find the storage roots deeper under and away from the pot. That's why I select for the clump root kind, so I don't have to dig big holes looking for them.

Chris Morrison

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #194 on: 2020-08-24, 02:25:04 PM »
Yes I hear you Mark. My hope is that the 'non-clump' types will spiral around the bag, identifying themselves vs the sought after clumpsters.  Take a look at this guy using fabric pots. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7jHdujj_BI