Author Topic: Arable land requirements for vegetable breeding  (Read 187 times)

triffid

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Arable land requirements for vegetable breeding
« on: 2019-02-05, 10:59:56 PM »
It would be interesting to know from the indie plant breeding community how much land one uses to breed, select and proliferate the seed of new varieties. I'd imagine the area varies quite a lot depending on location, crop and desired outcomes. Would any be willing to give a newbie some insight?

I've been aiming for around 1/2 acre for a 'living gene-bank' - for the conservation and re-breeding of some heritage legumes, potatoes and flax to be adapted to the local climate and able to thrive in the new extremes.  Is this a feasible size to start with?

Many thanks in advance.

William S.

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Re: Arable land requirements for vegetable breeding
« Reply #1 on: 2019-02-06, 07:51:42 AM »
As a hobbyist I use less. This is just driven by time as I have plenty of space. My total garden size is rarely more than 1/4 acre. A gardener could if following Elliot Coleman's advice manage up to 2.5 acres if working full time.

I wouldn't discourage anyone no matter how small a plot.

If we collaborate amongst ourselves we can overcome  any deficiency in plot size.

We can also overcome plot size deficiencies over time. For example: Grow out part of an F2 per year.



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Ferdzy

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Re: Arable land requirements for vegetable breeding
« Reply #2 on: 2019-02-06, 07:59:32 AM »
Yes, I'd be inclined to think that's enough space for a quite a lot of things. We have about that, I think. However, what we also have is a lot of space around the actual vegetable garden which is "clean". By which I mean no-one else is growing out flowering vegetables, and there are a lot of windbreaks in the form of trees, hedges, etc. I suspect that is a thing to consider.

Joseph Lofthouse

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Re: Arable land requirements for vegetable breeding
« Reply #3 on: 2019-02-06, 10:17:05 AM »

I am growing annual vegetables on about 1.5 acres. I'm using that to feed myself, and my community. I'm using it for plant breeding on about 100 species.

Seven fields are scattered across four communities, so I have lots of isolation options for the out-crossing species. How much space I devote to each crop varies widely. I might plant 200 seeds of a squash variety, because I'm using it to feed my community, and also for seed saving. My corn plantings are between hundreds and thousands of plants. If I have made an F1 hybrid, I might only plant 1 to 5 squash plants. The number of plants required often depends on the goals of the project. If I'm growing F2 tomatoes, and looking for a particular phenotype that is based on a couple of different genes, then I might plant 30 to 60 plants. If it's a polygenetic trait I'll plant many more. For example, I planted hundreds of F2 plants for the beautifully promiscuous tomato project.

With tomatoes, I often plant 25 to 50 varieties into the same pot. And let them grow together in the field. Seeds get saved from any  plant that produces ripe fruits, and tastes good. I have trialed up to 50 varieties in the space normally devoted to a single plant.

1/2 acre would be ample for a living gene-bank. Especially if attention was given to preserving many different species, rather than many varieties of the same species. I tend to grow every variety every year. For gene-banking purposes, different varieties could be grown in different years. For example, squash is highly promiscuous, and the seed stores  for a long time.

Carol Deppe

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Re: Arable land requirements for vegetable breeding
« Reply #4 on: 2019-02-06, 03:04:33 PM »
 Exactly how much space any given project takes depends on the crop, the project, and the methods needed. That's probably as much or more than I've ever had. (I grow primarily on about 2 acres, in collaboration with a local farmers. But probably 3/4 is for seed and food production and farmers market sales rather than breeding.)

My guess is with 1/2 acre for conservation and breeding, you are usually going to be limited by labor rather than land.

« Last Edit: 2019-02-06, 03:06:32 PM by Carol Deppe »

reed

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Re: Arable land requirements for vegetable breeding
« Reply #5 on: 2019-02-07, 07:07:54 AM »
I only have about a 1/4 acre which magically got bigger when I ditched the rototiller and no longer waste the space needed to maneuver it around. I don't grow everything every year but I'm building up a pretty good sized seed bank of lots of different things.

gmuller

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Re: Arable land requirements for vegetable breeding
« Reply #6 on: 2019-02-07, 07:55:01 PM »
I breed in my suburban backyard on about 36 square metres = ~ 360 sq feet). I work my beds hard 12 months a year. I'm selective about what I breed - no corn, squash, and careful allocation of space (and multi-year growouts) for species that suffer inbreeding depression. Family complaint - "We never get to eat anything out of the garden". Not true, but I understand the sentiment.
T

triffid

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Re: Arable land requirements for vegetable breeding
« Reply #7 on: 2019-02-08, 02:19:53 AM »
Thank you all for the replies, they are truly appreciated!

It's good to know that land area won't immediately be a limiting factor. Being in an English city I was concerned that I might not be able to find a plot of sufficient size.

There's a 1/2 acre plot available quite close to a market garden - but I'm not too concerned about isolation distance. Some blooms I want to mix freely and for those where varietal purity is a must I can put organza bags around the flowers or use isolation cages. 

I suppose a meticulously planned layout and religiously rotating beds will be imperative.

gmuller

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Re: Arable land requirements for vegetable breeding
« Reply #8 on: 2019-02-08, 04:06:49 AM »

I suppose a meticulously planned layout and religiously rotating beds will be imperative.
...or not :)
If you want to breed for disease resistance, a good strong disease-infested bed might be just what you want..so rotation might be just be what you don't want to do.

And If you like to grow anarchically, then start as you intend to proceed...
If you don't like weeding, then only grow stuff that will survive weed competition...by not weeding ;) - and so on...
GM

triffid

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Re: Arable land requirements for vegetable breeding
« Reply #9 on: 2019-02-08, 08:02:04 AM »
...or not :)
If you want to breed for disease resistance, a good strong disease-infested bed might be just what you want..so rotation might be just be what you don't want to do.

You're absolutely right. It's a good tactic. However, maybe not for building up limited seed stocks of heritage varieties :)

Though afterwards it would be interesting to see how well the older cultivars can cope with a barrage of insults. May have to factor in your 'petri dish' bed for each species.

Andrew Barney

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Re: Arable land requirements for vegetable breeding
« Reply #10 on: 2019-02-14, 05:52:55 AM »
It would be interesting to know from the indie plant breeding community how much land one uses to breed, select and proliferate the seed of new varieties. I'd imagine the area varies quite a lot depending on location, crop and desired outcomes. Would any be willing to give a newbie some insight?

I've been aiming for around 1/2 acre for a 'living gene-bank' - for the conservation and re-breeding of some heritage legumes, potatoes and flax to be adapted to the local climate and able to thrive in the new extremes.  Is this a feasible size to start with?

Many thanks in advance.

Up until now I have been using my parents back yard for plant breeding projects. The size of their complete property looks to be about 0.41 acres. So I've maybe used a third of that at most. So back yard or garden breeding is certainly possible. I've had to resort to making calls on what is a priority and rotating crops per year. Peas, Corn, teosinte, watermelon, and squash have been my main crops I've targeted over the years.