Author Topic: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)  (Read 11661 times)

reed

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #210 on: 2020-10-05, 03:53:48 AM »
Yes, I'm sure climate is a factor but I can't say exactly how other than colder temps. I'm sure it isn't day length as I have them blooming as seedlings now way before the longest day of the year and they keep it up way after.

I was planning to go ahead and harvest mine cause of the cool weather but now we are predicted to have a few days of warmer drier so I think I'll leave them to finish up some more seeds. Clipping stems and bringing them in to finish works good but I would rather just let them do it outside if possible. I did kind of accidentally on purpose pull up a few more side ones. What I mean by that is those that grew where a stem had rooted down away from the main trunk, so I'm not really 100% sure which plant these came from except the two on the right, they came from one of those with the very long vines. They are also from some that I rate at 5 or less out of 10, for seeds. Will let them cure a few days on a south windowsill and then see how they are baked. 

They and probably 2/3 of all the rest are also from the group that was started directly in the ground rather than inside or in the cold frame. I'm real excited about that as it eliminates that step each spring. No greenhouses, no heat, nothing special required. It's taken 7 years but they are getting to where they are as or even more easy to start than tomatoes.
« Last Edit: 2020-10-05, 03:56:07 AM by reed »

Richard Watson

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #211 on: 2020-10-05, 11:22:50 PM »
And i had a clone flowering all winter, so its not daylight hours.


Those tubers look so nice Mark
Changeable year round climate, less so summertime, warming winters - 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 #212 on: 2020-10-08, 08:15:35 AM »
Thanks! I'm hoping to find nice ones like this under the better blooming plants. I expect I'll find some just don't know how many. If I get just ten of the good seeders that also have good roots I'll be real, real pleased.

If that happens to be the case and if I can make arrangements with one of the seed companies I might send 2/3 of my seeds to them, keep 1/3 for my back up and grow just those best ones as clones next year.  They would get a mix of seed going back into the generations that had lots of poor rooters but they are also interested in ornamental or primarily for eating the greens. I'm interested in that too but the the seeds I'll keep have plenty of those genetics if I decide to focus on them. Right now I want to, what I call genetically distill a strain with high probability that any particular seed will produce a plant that makes nice roots and seeds in 100 days or less.  So I figure if I get those 10 just mixing them all up for a new generation of selected genes I'll be close to that goal.

All the ornamentals I'm aware of currently on the market are just for colorful foliage.  If I decide to make a side line of ornamental I'm gonna go for one that is also very floriferous. Might have to dip into older seed for that cause from what I understand the ornamental market does not what production of large storage roots.
« Last Edit: 2020-10-08, 08:17:33 AM by reed »

reed

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #213 on: 2020-10-10, 03:25:57 AM »
When it's time to harvest seeds it can be a bugger. A capsule has four seeds at the most and they can shatter if left too long. And they keep making and maturing over a period of months so if you want to collect them all you have to be out there pretty much every day looking for them.
 
I used to think they had to be completely dry, even the stem like those on the left in this picture but now after experimenting some I'm sure it's fine to go ahead and pick those like the ones on the right.

Just need to let them finish completely drying before trying to open them. It looks like they are but the seeds in those on the right are not completely dried, nor is the capsule shell. Trying to open it at this point can damage the seeds but a couple days drying inside and they crack open just fine.

So, it just got easier to collect seeds, yea!


S.Simonsen

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #214 on: 2020-10-10, 06:05:04 PM »
There is so much involved in getting a feel for the full life cycle and breeding trajectory of a single crop. Makes you wonder how many different crops a single person can meaningfully work on assuming they are at it full time. I suspect it is probably 5-10 annual/perennial crops. Tree crops go so long between generations the number would probably be higher for them (then again the pollination/seed collection/germination/establishment part of the loop is the most labor intensive part).

reed

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #215 on: 2020-10-12, 08:11:16 AM »
There is so much involved in getting a feel for the full life cycle and breeding trajectory of a single crop. Makes you wonder how many different crops a single person can meaningfully work on assuming they are at it full time.

I've been giving your comment some thought. I try to grow a lot of different things and mostly apply the Lofthouse "landrace everything" model. But some things do force a little more study, effort and time. For example I want something specific from my corn so I've had to learn more about how it inherits the properties I want and those I don't. I also want a family of beans that grow on short vines instead of giant ones. I want a  hardy family of cabbage/brussels sprouts/broccoli that I can use for fresh greens, so far a near total fail on that.

Sweet potatoes are however the effort, time and study hogs. I reckon half or more of all my attentions in the last few years as been devoted to them. Now I'm an expert! Ha Ha. In 7 years I guess I've learned maybe 7% of what there is to know.

S.Simonsen

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #216 on: 2020-10-12, 03:03:53 PM »
I find there is a big spike in required time/attention to get a new crop off the ground, even more so if it is a genus that people haven't worked on much so you have to figure most of it out from scratch. Getting those first crosses (especially if they are wide ones like interspecies or intergeneric) is a huge barrier to overcome. But once you make that connection things become a lot easier if you havent stumbled into a genetic dead end. This happened for me with Canna, it took me about four years to gather diversity and figure out how to get varieties with asynchronous flowering to marry up (after wasting a year trying to store pollen which turned out to be impossible). Now I have a hybrid population that I can do simple selection on, but the energy goes into scaling up production so I can plant out lots of hybrids. As the lines stabilise and average quality improves the effort required will probably decline and shift to simply processing tons of tubers by hand. And once one person does all those high risk/low reward early stages the grex lines can be shared with others which saves them from having to duplicate the difficult early stages.

reed

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #217 on: 2020-10-13, 07:39:36 AM »
I think it might be a little easier next year. I only had a hand full this year that didn't flower, I already harvested them and also most of the lesser flowering ones. Well over half of them have had nice sized roots.

I'm down to just 41 plants now still maturing seeds and still blooming. If just ten of these also have nice roots that is all I think I need but I expect half or more will. If that is so, 20 or more will also maybe let me select some for traits like flavor and how well they store and how easily they sprout slips next spring. 

I'll have to find a place to store that many but next year rather than starting more seeds I plan to grow several each of the best of them. So, if I select down to just 10 and grow 5 of each I will only have fifty. I have plenty of the large size tubs to accommodate that many. In the large tubs with 3 plants per they have room for full production capacity so I can test that and they require less watering. Also they are higher off the ground, making them safer from rabbits and  easier to collect seeds.

If it works out the 2021 seeds will be a new elite line to start another round of selection. 



« Last Edit: 2020-10-13, 07:41:37 AM by reed »

reed

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #218 on: 2020-10-15, 03:47:55 PM »
Well the 2020 sweet potato harvest is done. Wouldn't call it an emergency harvest but it was hurried as a cool breeze and light sprinkles was moving in. Didn't really get to tag and sort individual plants as I intended. O' well I actually hate that aspect of plant breeding anyway.

So I ended up just pitching a single root of each seedy plant into a tub and brought them in by a small heater to keep them warm for a couple days. I don't really know the actual importance of this warm curing period and have never done it before but guess it won't hurt.   

There is about 20 or so in the picture, not all the best looking roots but all nicely seedy and some what I might call super seedy. I think root quality is likely affected by poor growing conditions so just when I thought next year might get easier now I'm thinking I should actually spend the time and effort to improve growing conditions. Time to act like I actually care if they grow or not instead of just sticking them in pots full of what ever I scrounge up. Maybe even make some effort that they are all growing in the same mix so I can tell if differences are genetic or environmental.

Also lots to learn about storage quality, do some get internal cork like I've read about? Don't really even know what it is exactly but don't think I've ever seen it. Anyway, the learning curve is not flattening much at all.

I just going to let these do their thing next spring, maybe see some difference in storage ability, flavor after storage, how well they produce slips and so on.

Those two in the second picture demonstrate a possible issue. The onw with lots of roots, especially that fatter root, I think is indicative of  one that might make deep or spread out roots which I don't want. On the other hand it was from the most seedy plant I've ever seen. The one next to it with just a little root sticking out is more indicative of those that only make my preferred clump roots.

There were other roots on each that I kept in the tub to eat along with all the poor seeders. Some had a small extra one or two that I went ahead and sampled. Found a couple more of the sweet purple/yellow ones and a purple/orange that's also quite tasty. I didn't make any effort to tag them separate.  Unless they rot or whither in storage which I doubt, I'll find them again next year.

The harvest to eat is still sitting out there as I stupidly pithed them all in one big tub and it was too heavy to lift so I pitched a piece of plastic and an old blanket on top. I'll get them put up tomorrow. Also didn't do much on bringing in stems to mature seeds, they will still be there tomorrow too. I don't really need them but might collect up a few more.
« Last Edit: 2020-10-15, 03:52:56 PM by reed »

S.Simonsen

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #219 on: 2020-10-15, 03:59:11 PM »
Fantastic work Reed and thanks for posting continual updates.

Richard Watson

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #220 on: 2020-10-16, 12:36:50 AM »
Fantastic work Reed and thanks for posting continual updates.

Yes agree, well done.
Changeable year round climate, less so summertime, warming winters - 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 #221 on: 2020-10-17, 07:20:33 AM »
Thanks, don't forget to keep us posted on your work down south this season!

I went out and collected up a few stems to finish up inside. These are all from the two most seedy plants, if I start any new seeds next year it might be just these. Maybe put them together but a little isolated from the bigger patch and see if I can make a "super seedy" sub strain from the overall mix.

I am real surprised at how well this finishing inside works. From past experience, most of these, even the smaller ones will go ahead finish up just fine.

reed

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #222 on: 2020-10-19, 07:34:42 AM »
Discussion over on the NZ thread has me thinking more on the issue of erratic germination. I think more predictable germination can be increased by selection. The first time I had seeds, I only had about 20. I started them in a warm south window on a heat mat and if I remember right it was just 3 that sprouted. This year I planted 300 directly in the ground and 150 or more sprouted. I also had some in the cold frame but most of the 100 I grew out were from those in the ground so I guess about 50 of them were fast enough to get assigned to a pot. The rest basically got discarded.

So altogether I threw away or neglected to death close to 100 seedlings this year. That is wasteful and a problem I can't easily resolve because of space restrictions. Such waste has been acceptable because I was primarily focused on finding seedy lines but now I want to select from them those more likely to also make good roots.

I need to figure out a way to predict root quality early on, maybe even as seedlings. I mentioned somewhere before about Carol Deppe in talking about corn said not to get too carried away in culling smaller plants because some grow top growth first and some develop a root system first.  I wondered if that might be true of sweet potatoes too and roots being the primary crop of sweet potatoes might that matter?  I had an idea to test that by starting some in sections of clear drinking straws but didn't get around to doing it. But if I do, what will it really tell me? Just because one grows a bigger root where another grows more on top, is that predictive of one that will eventually make good storage roots?

Maybe I could take out some older seeds (higher % of non-root plants) and an equal number of this years seeds (all from good root plants) and run that little experiment. I might could even do that now, instead of waiting till next spring.

I've also found that some, when grow in little cups on the window sill over winter actually have little storage roots when I take them out to plant the next spring. Can I use that to develop a useful experiment?



S.Simonsen

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #223 on: 2020-10-19, 02:15:37 PM »
I wonder if you could germinate your seedlings in group pots (mostly for convenience) and once they are big enough to handle transplant into individual pots for growing on. If you photograph every seedling during transplantation with a good macro lens you can then keep track of them and compare seedling morphology to root quality in the grown out plants. It might be that there are signs of root formation potential in the seedlings if you know what you are looking for. I suspect there will be some signs that tell you how to separate out the non-tuberous seedlings.

reed

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #224 on: Yesterday at 04:05:33 AM »
I wonder if you could germinate your seedlings in group pots (mostly for convenience) and once they are big enough to handle transplant into individual pots for growing on.
I started germinating in big pots back when I discovered how easy they are to transplant. One thing you don't have to worry about is root disturbance, they just don't seem bothered by that at all.
If you photograph every seedling during transplantation with a good macro lens you can then keep track of them and compare seedling morphology to root quality in the grown out plants.
That sounds like a good approach but I know me. I'm just not that disciplined when it comes to recording and tracking, I doubt I could pull it off.
It might be that there are signs of root formation potential in the seedlings if you know what you are looking for. I suspect there will be some signs that tell you how to separate out the non-tuberous seedlings.
That's what I wonder too, just got to find out what those signs are but within my own limitations of patience and organization.

Another thing I've thought of is to start lots of seeds and put them in very small pots so I can have more plants in the same space. Then after a few weeks dump them out and see which ones are starting to develop storage roots. If I could isolate the better ones by mid June there would be plenty of time to clone them in bigger pots.

So that's an approach that might work for me, the new question to ask is: How soon do they start storage root development?


« Last Edit: Yesterday at 04:10:16 AM by reed »