Author Topic: Breeding short season cold climate luffa  (Read 235 times)

Chiu-Ki Chan

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Breeding short season cold climate luffa
« on: 2019-01-16, 10:13:46 AM »
I don't really have any plant breeding experience, though I did save some seeds from the luffa I grew in a container two years ago. I am thinking of trying luffa as my first breeding project since it operates like a zucchini (male and female easy-to-seal flowers) so it is easy to control the pollination. I love eating luffas and I want to adapt them to Colorado climate.

Starting a new thread on luffa breeding.

I have chosen smooth luffa (Luffa aegyptiaca / Luffa cylindrica) instead of angled luffa (Luffa_acutangula). The lack of ridges makes it easier to peel for cooking and also to make sponges.

The goal is to make a variety that works well in cold climates, which have short growing seasons. My definition of "cold climate" is somewhere that snows. I am in northern Colorado (zone 5b), which is also dry and windy.

Selection criteria:
  • Transplants well. I just heard about winter sowing and will try to start my seeds this way.
  • Fruits early.
  • Large total production.

I have never done any plant breeding so I'd appreciate your help and guidance.

Also, if you'd like to breed luffa with me please reply with your location, climate, and why you are interested in luffas. I'd love to collaborate.

Thanks!

B. Copping

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Re: Breeding short season cold climate luffa
« Reply #1 on: 2019-01-23, 05:22:54 PM »
I am curious about how many frost-free days you have.

Lagenaria siceraria (gourd/cuccuzzi/opo/dhudi) and Momordica charantia (bitter melon) are quite popular in one of the community gardens here in Montreal.
I haven’t seen luffa yet, but that may be gardener preference, not an adaption issue. (And possibly the price of luffa in the grocery store compared to the gourds and bitter melon)

The gourds are available as transplants; think two gallon pot and three foot vines.
My previous attempt at growing gourds to see if I could produce mature seed were thwarted by someone harvesting them for eating. Such are the perils of the urban garden. :)

Chiu-Ki Chan

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Re: Breeding short season cold climate luffa
« Reply #2 on: 2019-01-23, 06:22:40 PM »
In Northern Colorado we have 129 frost free days:
https://www.almanac.com/gardening/frostdates/CO/Longmont

I looked up Lagenaria siceraria. It's a gourd that I've only seen dried as a water bottle in kung fu movies. I am familiar with bitter melon but in Cantonese cuisine we usually cook it with fermented black bean or other strong flavor to make it taste good, and I prefer lighter dishes.

I want to grow luffa because it tastes much better fresh off the vine. The ones I buy from Asian groceries tend to be limp.

I have grown luffa successfully here, in 2016. But last year something ate the seedlings before it's established so this year I want to try winter sowing to see if I can get a head start, both in terms of extending the growing season and also have more leaves so the seedlings can survive nibblers. No idea if that would work, but it does, effectively I'll be selecting the ones that can be winter sown.

B. Copping

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Re: Breeding short season cold climate luffa
« Reply #3 on: 2019-01-26, 02:15:08 PM »
So will you be using both transplants and winter sown seed?
What varieties are you going to selecting from?

Chiu-Ki Chan

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Re: Breeding short season cold climate luffa
« Reply #4 on: 2019-01-26, 02:39:20 PM »
When you say "transplants" do you mean seedlings grown by a nursery? I've never seen luffa seedlings at local garden centers so that it isn't really an option. I'll winter sow and transplant the resulting seedlings. Will also direct sow just in case winter sowing doesn't work.

I don't have much choice in terms of varieties. Within Luffa cylindrica I plan to use:

Dok, Hybrid: https://www.kitazawaseed.com/seed_467-40.html
Short: https://www.kitazawaseed.com/seed_149-40.html
Botanical Interests: https://www.botanicalinterests.com/product/Luffa-Gourd-Seeds

Kitazawa is the only company I found varieties. The rest of seed places just sell "luffa".

I'm going to Hong Kong for Chinese New Year and I'll see if I can find any seeds there.

B. Copping

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Re: Breeding short season cold climate luffa
« Reply #5 on: 2019-01-26, 07:52:19 PM »
When I talk about transplants, I mean just about any plant that is grown for a while in one location (indoors/greenhouse/coldframe/seedbed, etc.) and then moved.

I grow my plants from seed. I rarely buy transplants.
The tomatoes etc. get started in plastic beer cups, and when the weather is warm enough, I “harden them off” and then move them into the garden.
So they are transplants, grown by me. :)

I think the availability of gourd transplants, in the area where I live, is a reflection of local demand from multiple ethnic groups that all enjoy eating gourds.

Hungry animals in spring aren’t suprising. A bit of hardware cloth or chicken wire might help, with the secondary advantage that you can add some plastic for season extention in the spring.
Just food for thought. :)

Chiu-Ki Chan

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Re: Breeding short season cold climate luffa
« Reply #6 on: 2019-01-26, 08:29:39 PM »
Hungry animals in spring aren’t suprising. A bit of hardware cloth or chicken wire might help, with the secondary advantage that you can add some plastic for season extention in the spring.

I plan to try some kind of cover this year, haven't decided between floating row cover or hardware cloth.

Ferdzy

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Re: Breeding short season cold climate luffa
« Reply #7 on: 2019-01-29, 07:30:43 AM »
Are you familiar with AgroHaitai in Canada? I can't tell if they ship to the U.S. or not but they do list and f1 hybrid luffa that they say is day-length neutral.

http://www.agrohaitai.com/fruit&gourd/luffa/luffa.htm

Chiu-Ki Chan

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Re: Breeding short season cold climate luffa
« Reply #8 on: 2019-01-29, 09:48:27 AM »
No, I didn't know about AgroHaitai. Thank you for sharing!

Looks like they do ship to the US:
http://www.agrohaitai.com/onlineorder.htm

These are the smooth luffa they offer:

Emerald F1: Early maturity. Smooth type. The fruits are average 45~50cm and 4~5 cm in diameter, 300g in weight.
http://www.agrohaitai.com/fruit&gourd/luffa/emerald.htm

Tri-leaf: OP variety. Smooth type. The fruits are 30-40 cm long and 8-12 cm in diameter, up to 700g in weight.
http://www.agrohaitai.com/fruit&gourd/luffa/trileaf.htm

There are also these from Kitazawa:

Dok, Hybrid: Also known as edible luffa, this early maturing, vigorous hybrid is high yielding, has lateral branches and is disease tolerant. Green fruit grows to 1.25" x 11" and can weigh ˝ pound.
https://www.kitazawaseed.com/seed_467-40.html

Extra Long: This prolific, vigorous variety produces extra long gourds, up to 15 per plant. The fruit has a green skin and excellent flavor. Fruit weighs up to 1 pound and is 1.5" x 33". Fruit left to mature on the vine can be used for luffa sponges.
https://www.kitazawaseed.com/seed_466-40.html

Short: This smooth skin sponge gourd has dark green and slightly ribbed fruit. It is grown for food or sponges. The young fruit are cooked or used in salad. The buds, shoots and young leaves are also edible. The immature flesh is especially good stir-fried with chicken, bamboo shoots or cashews. Mature fruit is dried for its fiber.
https://www.kitazawaseed.com/seed_149-40.html

I want to grow two plants per variety, one winter sown one direct sown. It's is going to be challenging to fit so many luffa plants into my garden!

I am going to build 4 raised beds. If I want to rotate crops I can only use two. But how important it is to not grow luffa in some beds this year in anticipation of next year?

Ferdzy

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Re: Breeding short season cold climate luffa
« Reply #9 on: 2019-02-01, 08:17:02 AM »
I have never grown luffa but this page from OMAFRA indicates that it is basically a cucurbit crop with all the usual cucurbit problems. I would try not to plant them in the exact same spot each year but in a small garden insect pests will find them whether you move them or not, assuming the pests are there.

http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/CropOp/en/spec_veg/cucurbits/luffa.html