Author Topic: Homestead Potato Breeding and Selection  (Read 401 times)

Oxbow Farm

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Homestead Potato Breeding and Selection
« on: 2018-10-14, 04:52:15 AM »
I've been dabbling with potato breeding and selection of clones for our own use for the past 6-7 years now.  Starting with TPS from Joseph Lofthouse called "Bountiful", then some TPS purchased from Tom Wagner via his New World Seeds and Tubers seed company.  The past few years have been truly wonderful since the advent of the Kenosha Potato Project Seed Train, the diversity and abundance of the potato germplasm that arrives via the train really opened up my eyes to how much fun seedling potatoes can be. 

Areas of interest to me in the Potato realm include.

Breeding/Selecting high dry matter tetraploid clones capable of produce high yields in my gravelly silt loam soil with out commercial inputs.  This year I did not fertilize my tuber-set plot, but I did mulch the plot with a thick layer of green chop after the second hilling.  Presumably the decomposition and leaching of nutrients from the mulch provided a certain amount of fertility, while also allowing the potatoes to utilize the complete soil depth right up to the soil/mulch interface. 

Breeding/Selecting high carotenoid yellow diploid clone with good yield and good winter dormancy.  I've fallen in love with phureja diploids of the Criolla Amarilla/Yema de Huevo type.  The texture and flavor and beauty of the deep yellow orange flesh is a fantastic eating experience, but they don't store for crap.  I want a diploid that will give me more than a couple of weeds of tasty eating before they shrivel up and sprout all over the place. 

Breeding/Selecting a North American domesticated potato species.  This one is probably a long shot, but I am fascinated by Solanum jamesii, Solanum cardiophylum, and other EBN1 Mexican/US native potato species and would like to contribute to bringing them into at least partial cultivation/domestication. 

That's about it,  I've added a picture here from my highest yielding TPS seedling from 2018. The seed was a cross of Sarpo Duro and (probably) Monstruo Azul, (edited to add, this cross was made by Nathan Pierce who gave me the seed)

The image seems a bit big, but I am unsure how to resize it?  Advice is welcome. 

« Last Edit: 2018-10-14, 12:54:05 PM by Oxbow Farm »

bill

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Re: Homestead Potato Breeding and Selection
« Reply #1 on: 2018-10-14, 12:44:54 PM »
I resized your image.  When linking an image, you can include a width= in the IMG tag.  If you edit this post, you'll see what that looks like.  You can also directly upload images to this forum and they will resize automatically.

We have some similar projects.  I am also working on yellow flesh diploids that tuberize at longer day lengths and have some dormancy and on a North American 1EBN line, which I have been calling by the traditional Mexican name, cimatli.  I'm now also very interested in working with P genome wild diploids from South America after discovering this year that Solanum acroscopicum appears to have a lot of potential for breeding.

Raymondo

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Re: Homestead Potato Breeding and Selection
« Reply #2 on: 2018-10-14, 02:51:09 PM »
Love reading about people’s potato projects. When things settle here a bit more (busy building up a market garden) potato breeding is something I want to get into.
Ray
Growing in slightly acidic clay loam over clay and ironstone

Lauren

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Re: Homestead Potato Breeding and Selection
« Reply #3 on: 2018-10-14, 07:10:41 PM »
How do you get the potato seeds to grow? I'm having 0 luck there. The seedlings get their secondary leaves and then just sit there, glaring at me. I actually got one an inch high this year, with four leaves before it died. Wheee. If they don't die early, they die on transplant.

Oxbow Farm

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Re: Homestead Potato Breeding and Selection
« Reply #4 on: 2018-10-14, 08:01:43 PM »
They are really susceptible to damping off.  Its good to keep them fairly dry, and to bottom water potato seedlings until you pot them up for the first time.  After the first potting up, I find they are pretty bombproof, although there are always one or two that die for no reason. 

If you have enough seed, I think it is good to plant really thick and then select for the most vigorous seedlings.

The only other thing I can think of is that it is often recommended to get them out in direct sunlight if at all possible to get some direct UV exposure, due to potatoes being Andean and like quite intense UV like they get back home at high altitude in the equator.  Here's a picture of this springs seedlings briefly getting some sun.

« Last Edit: 2018-10-14, 08:11:53 PM by Oxbow Farm »

rowan

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Re: Homestead Potato Breeding and Selection
« Reply #5 on: 2018-10-15, 12:07:12 AM »
I have no trouble with overhead watering but I like to have a good draining, coarse potting soil mix and only sow them when the weather is getting pretty warm. If I sow them too early I have damping off and slow growth.
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Oxbow Farm

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Re: Homestead Potato Breeding and Selection
« Reply #6 on: 2018-10-15, 07:21:11 PM »
Overall I have been very happy selecting my own potatoes from seedlings.  I have not had any difficulty producing productive and useful ones that work well for us in the kitchen.

I have recently realized a problem with my current batch of varieties I'm growing which is that I have pretty much exclusively selected extremely late maturity potatoes.  As of this moment it is the 15th of October and we have yet to have a frost.  For a frost pocket in USDA zone 5A, that is about 3 weeks later than normal.  And we had about 2 weeks earlier start from the last frost in the spring.  So essentially we've had an additional month of a growing season this year.  I didn't get my potatoes planted right away in May, they went in in early June.  Which means they've been in the ground for 5 months and are still green and growing. 

While I think its good to have the bulk of a potato crop be late season potatoes for storage and yield, I ought to have some early and mid season ones to have some potatoes to eat before November! 

What I do not know is why this is happening. Are all my potatoes late season because of the way I grow and select my seedlings? Or is it because of the genetics of the TPS material I started with, and if I used different stuff I would get different results.

One concern I've had is that I tend to pot up my seedlings from the starter pot into individual cells in a 50 cell 1020 plug sheet.  Pretty much this is the size of cell the seedlings live in till they are planted out.   I am wondering if maybe this is too small a cell and it stresses the earlier maturing plants into early tuberization or something and drops the yield?    Or was  I just unlucky and chose all the really late maturity genetics when I selected my TPS seed to grow?

bill

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Re: Homestead Potato Breeding and Selection
« Reply #7 on: 2018-10-15, 07:29:13 PM »
Regarding the lateness, there are probably two things at work:

Diploids are overwhelmingly short day varieties, so they are holding back until the day length falls under 13-14 hours at the most.

For tetraploids, if you have late blight resistance stock, blight resistance is overwhelmingly associated with lateness.

You will also tend to lose early varieties if you let the seedlings go too long before transplant.  If you see tubers forming at transplant with an early variety, it has pretty much formed all the stolons that it is going to and those little plants tend to get lost in the field.

Oxbow Farm

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Re: Homestead Potato Breeding and Selection
« Reply #8 on: 2018-10-15, 09:17:18 PM »
So having 1/3 of my clones descended from Sarpo Mira and about another 1/4 from Tollocan was my problem? 

I have started to toss any seedling that already had tubers showing.

Lauren

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Re: Homestead Potato Breeding and Selection
« Reply #9 on: 2018-10-15, 09:22:26 PM »
The first year I planted indoors under grow lights. Last spring they were planted in the greenhouse, so I don't think light was the problem. As far as soil I use regular garden soil. I guess I'll keep trying until I run out of seeds.

Nicholas Locke

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Re: Homestead Potato Breeding and Selection
« Reply #10 on: 2018-10-16, 05:24:39 AM »
I have just sown some seed purchased from cultivariable, all tetraploid mixs , some popped up within a few days of being in the germination chamber.. will be interesting to see what comes from them.
"Maybe" said the farmer...

Mike Jennings

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Re: Homestead Potato Breeding and Selection
« Reply #11 on: 2018-10-16, 10:29:24 AM »
This has been a break-out year for potato breeding, for me, as I finally found some plants that could produce seeds in my hot summer climate. Blue Belle produced a few berries. And seeds shared by Oxbow Farm labeled "TLSF 12-17 diploid" made a bunch (relatively) of berries. Now I feel like I can really start breeding, particularly for types that will produce seed reliably in hot weather. Here is the best TLSF 12-17 plant.


I also experimented with some high dormancy and low dormancy diploids this year. The diploid patch got hit hard with a spider mite infestation and I lost a bunch of plants. Some of the high dormancy plants (particularly PI458393) were unscathed and are still going strong, and seem happy that the hottest weather is over. They are blooming profusely, but still not setting any berries.

The low dormancy diploids suffered more from the spider mites, but some are recovering. A couple senesced early. I am going to experiment with replanting these as a winter crop. Our winters are not very cold and I can often have potatoes survive winter undamaged by frost with a southern exposure under an evergreen tree. Low dormancy diploids may be valuable for year round growing in California.

Regarding selecting early plants from TPS. This is something I have been thinking about this year. Early potatoes are very valuable for me, because I can plant them in March and harvest in June, and they don't need a ton of irrigation to get them through summer. (Yukon Gold and Red Norland are great for this.) So, when I found TPS plants that started to form tubers in their pots I just let them finish up, then saved them labeled "early". My plan is to plant them next March all together in an early patch. We'll see what happens. Hopefully they will last long enough in the fridge to still be plantable.


My other thought about this is that, if people are selecting at all for potatoes that make lots of seeds, wouldn't that automatically select for a long season? I think I've heard that early types are much harder to get berries from just because they often senesce too quickly.
« Last Edit: 2018-10-16, 12:00:09 PM by Mike Jennings »

Oxbow Farm

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Re: Homestead Potato Breeding and Selection
« Reply #12 on: 2018-10-16, 10:33:42 AM »
Hey Mike! That is great you got some results with that diploid seed.  Its neat that it is pink/red flesh too!  The parent is yellow flesh without any sign of red that I can see. Possibly crossed to one of the many other diploid seedlings I had going last season.  Love it!

So I just took these pictures this morning and posted them on the Kenosha Potato Project fb group, but those posts always get buried eventually.  I thought I might put it here more permanently.

It has been having a banner year for potato fertility here, and I've harvested some very large lots of berries from several of the clones I have in my main plot, and even a few of the plants in my seedling plot.  One seedling in particular gave me 8 pounds of berries by itself, which is a record for me. So I've got quite a few batches of open pollinated berries in the 2-12 pound range.  I wanted to experiment with efficiently extracting the TPS from the berries in large (for me) batches like this.



With folks who do deliberate crosses, it makes sense to individually extract the seeds from a crossed berry to try and get every last seed from the cross to maximize the chances of finding the desired offspring later.  But with big batches of open pollinated berries, you can't really give each berry personalized extraction treatment.  So I wanted to figure out a way to get the seeds out of the berries with as little pulp and fines following along as possible, and with as little damage to the bulk of the seed as possible, while getting as much seed out as I could in a timely way.

I feel like being creative is overrated compared to stealing a bunch of good ideas from other people and combining them.  So I found on Bill's Cultivariable page on TPS growing and saving a mention of the CIP recommending the use of a meat grinder to break up the berries vs a blender, being more gentle on the seed.  I have an old meat grinder from a junk store, which has been collecting dust.  So I put in the coarsest grinding plate and it very quickly and easily chewed through this tray of berries.



On the Kenosha Potato Project page, Jane Hunter mentioned using an Ikea collander with 2mm holes to separate TPS from berry pulp after blending them.  I had a steamer basket with similar sized holes that is designed to fit over a standard stock pot, so the pulped berries were dropped into the steamer basket/collander and a slow stream of water from the faucet was run on the pulp while I stir it around.  THIS WORKS FANTASTICALLY WELL!  The seeds just start disappearing.  Soon you have a pile of green pulp with essentially zero visible seeds.  All the seeds fall through into the stock pot.

After repeated pouring off you are left with a batch of fairly clean, very slimy seed in the bottom of your stock pot.  When you strain this seed off into a strainer you can easily see how much mucus is bound to the seeds.  It takes 5-10 minutes for the seed to partially drain off, and the liquid comes off in a slow ropey continuous strand.



I've switched this year to soaking my TPS in trisodium phosphate, instead of fermenting them to digest the mucus coat and germination inhibitors surrounding the seeds.  Mainly because this year I have so many berries to process, and trisodium phosphate takes 20 minutes of soaking time and fermentation takes about a week in my greenhouse at this time of year.  I am using a 10% trisodium phosphate solution as detailed in Bill's TPS page on Cultivariable. https://www.cultivariable.com/instructions/potatoes/how-to-grow-true-potato-seeds-tps/
After 20 minutes in the trisodium phosphate the seed strains in a colander like coarse sand.  The liquid flows instantly out of the seed vs slowly oozing out for minutes at a time. 



After some additional rinsing to remove any remaining trisodium phosphate residue, I dumped out the seed onto a paper plant and put it in my dehydrator to dry, with the heat turned off.  Normally I use coffee filters to dry out my TPS seeds but this seemed too big for a coffee filter.





So this protocol seems more or less to work fantastically well for me at this scale, with stuff I already had kicking around other than the trisodium phosphate, which is not sold commercially around here at retail stores, so I had to buy online.
I hope other folks find it useful, and I welcome any suggestions for changes and improvements.  One thing that Bill does that I didn't try is cleaning the seed in a bleach solution after the trisodium phosphate soak.  I have some bleach, but I just didn't go to the trouble of making up a second solution.

bill

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Re: Homestead Potato Breeding and Selection
« Reply #13 on: 2018-10-16, 11:18:32 AM »
My other thought about this is that, if people are selecting at all for potatoes that make lots of seeds, wouldn't that automatically select for a long season? I think I've heard that early types are much harder to get berries from just because they often senesce to quickly.

Earlies are typically difficult to get seed from, since it is a race between flowering and tuberization signals.  You might have to resort to techniques like tuber pruning or grafting onto a non-tuberous relative to get abundant seed from early varieties.

bill

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Re: Homestead Potato Breeding and Selection
« Reply #14 on: 2018-10-16, 11:19:48 AM »
Yeah, the meat grinder is a nice upgrade over a blender, Tim.  As long as the berries are somewhat ripe, you get to dispense with the water processing, which is messy and time consuming.

Bleach will cut back on damping off, which can be transmitted on the seed coat.
« Last Edit: 2018-10-16, 12:07:18 PM by bill »