Author Topic: Finding or Rebreeding lost Lofthouse Parsnip  (Read 169 times)

William S.

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Finding or Rebreeding lost Lofthouse Parsnip
« on: 2020-01-31, 07:19:40 AM »
First off does anyone still have Joseph Lofthouse's old parsnip?

Also does anyone have the only parsnip ever registered to OSSI?

Back years ago Joseph had a cool parsnip he developed from Kral and others to be better adapted to his garden. He said he lost this a few years back when he had to move.

In my own garden I had never grown parsnip. So when I had the opportunity to put in a garden in 2011 and 2012 I decided to try it and bought a packet of Lancer from the feed store. Lancer it turn's out is a reselection of Harris. Long strait roots. Well, the Lancer never left. When I returned in 2016 it was still surviving. So one of the members of the local seed coop grows Turga parsnip seed. Which is moderately fat and shorter. I've tried twice now to buy and plant a packet of that to add diversity. I also last year got a packet of Kral from adaptive which I fall planted with my second packet of Turga.

So far I think this is a bit of an inadequate effort.

I think what I really need to do is get a good seed crop of Kral at least semi isolated then cross it with that local strain of Turga and my own local strain of semi feral Lancer and then kind of breed back to a Kral shape to get a strain similar to what Joseph had.

My native soil is a seven inch plow layer of silty clay loam over a seven inch clay accumulation layer. Kral or an improved Kral type would make good sense here. I think if I really want to eat the Lancer I need to incorporate a large amount of sand to depth of 14 inches or more where they grow. I suppose I could have a load dumped on top of the current patch. Current patch is growing where I got a load dumped a few years ago, but I think it might be the spot where I did the best job ever cleaning up a pile.

Another thought to an alternative route. The first parsnip I ever tried Lancer adapted itself and reseeded itself wonderfully. Perhaps was preadapted. It seems at least possible that pure line Kral would do the same given an adequate sample size of a couple hundred plants and a few generations (seed savers says 80 plants). Though I am not actually sure if I could maintain Kral pure-line without some research on isolation distances. Perhaps if the isolation distance isn't too far. Ok I went to another browser window (book shelf seemed to far away) Seed Savers website says 1600 feet, there is about 750 feet to work with according to Google Earth, but my parents have a second property where I could potentially do so. The lazy method would be to seed Kral onto pocket gopher mounds there and see if it goes semi feral. The not lazy method would probably involve establishing a second isolation garden which would be good for other crops as well. Very deer infested though so it would involve fence building. Though for the Lazy method to work I need to buy more than a seed packet if I need 200 plants as Templeton wrote years ago. However seed savers suggests a population size of 80. Since a 1/4 lb costs $50 from Adaptive- this might actually be much cheaper than building the fence, ten foot T posts are not cheap. Notably on the possible additional garden site the soil is much better and someone even planted potatoes in what is now the adjacent hayfield one year long before my parents bought it- its the field behind the house here and there is a ~2 acre area unused because of a former B & B tree crop. Some of the trees are still there and some removed with associated craters, though its the extant trees which my mom is attached to that stop the renter from using it. I am just thinking out loud here. 
« Last Edit: 2020-01-31, 03:59:42 PM by William S. »
Western Montana garden, glacial lake Missoula sediment lacustrian silty clay mollisoil sometimes with added sand in places. Zone 6A with 100 to 130 frost free days

gmuller

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Re: Finding or Rebreeding lost Lofthouse Parsnip
« Reply #1 on: 2020-01-31, 06:46:47 PM »
Hi William,
I've been working on and off on a similar project using Kral to develop a short fat parsnip.
i'm not sure if isolation distances need to be as large as your research suggests. Just from observing the flowers on my parsnips suggest that relatively small flies and beetles do much of the work - I suspect that they don't fly very far. If you plant a dense patch, and select seeds from the inner plants I reckon the chances of varietal contamination could be reduced.
Additionally, I've found it hard to re-establish short-fatness in mass crossed populations, which further suggests that rogueing your Kral growout at the F2 is likely to remove much of any potential contamination. (I suspect that long and skinny are probably dominant - but this is only on incidental observations rather than study.

I seem to recall a distant discussion on HG of a US variety called Halfback, which I wasn't able to source - perhaps being in NorthAm you might have better luck and other channels to followup.

If you want to try for a short fat cross up, also have a look at some of the 'half-long' varieties.

Unfortunately, my last year growout which was vernalised in the fridge as I moved house all rotted in the ground when I planted them in spring at the new garden - just when i was making progress. I think my last year's seed will be unviable since i didn't put it into good storage, so two steps backward, it seems.

If you go the route of a mass cross project, plant heavily at the F2 and later generations, and select really hard for desirable characteristics - my MX lines don't show many short fat individuals, and relying on mass crossing means you have little control on who crosses with who - and you need good diversity in your parental crop to escape inbreeding depression according to my research.

as a really rough guide I probably got about 10% or less of my first crops with anything like shortfatness, so if you want 50 or so to go on with you might want to try for about 500 plants at the F2...Your experience might be really different to mine tho.

My experiments were highly constrained by available space in my old garden where i had about 3 square metres maximimum for my generational growouts, so i was forced to accept marginal plants to carry on with.

I also suspect that if you are crossing widely separated varieties, that a bit of genetic bottlenecking early on might be made up for by the diversity in the parental lines - but I'm just guessing on this.
cheers,
gregg (templeton)

William S.

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Re: Finding or Rebreeding lost Lofthouse Parsnip
« Reply #2 on: 2020-01-31, 07:07:57 PM »
I hadn't quite made the connection that gmuller = Templeton. In my brain I associate gmuller with a children's book author of some of my son's books. Such as "A year around the Great Oak".

I think my plan is a little more haphazard at this point than what you did/do. It's not the current high priority that tomatoes are. Just something (short fat roots) I would like to move towards genetically. So I think my haphazard idea is to grow enough Kral seed to make a genetic dent in the long skinny roots. Along with that I think perhaps I should start harvesting the long skinny patch so that its not so dominant. Also I figure if someone does pop up and say oh yeah, I still have that old JL variety, or that OSSI variety with no source, that it would be good to get a start.

One thing that gives me a lot of hope is the semi-feral nature of my existing parsnip patch. It requires minimal maintenance to keep it going- just the occasional disturbance so that grass doesn't outcompete it. So if I need to kind of backburner the whole thing I know the parsnips will carry on without me.

I have flies and beetles as well and what I think are some super tiny micro bees.
« Last Edit: 2020-01-31, 09:37:46 PM by William S. »
Western Montana garden, glacial lake Missoula sediment lacustrian silty clay mollisoil sometimes with added sand in places. Zone 6A with 100 to 130 frost free days

Joseph Lofthouse

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Re: Finding or Rebreeding lost Lofthouse Parsnip
« Reply #3 on: 2020-02-02, 04:44:21 PM »
William: I have seed again. People returned seed to me from populations that were scattered around here and there, and 5 year old seed still had some germination. I haven't been selecting though, except for seed-longevity, and survival of the fittest naturalization in my ecosystem. I'll intend to send you seed before spring.

William S.

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Re: Finding or Rebreeding lost Lofthouse Parsnip
« Reply #4 on: 2020-02-02, 05:36:05 PM »
Thanks Joseph! Now I just need to isolate it. Maybe in the backyard.
Western Montana garden, glacial lake Missoula sediment lacustrian silty clay mollisoil sometimes with added sand in places. Zone 6A with 100 to 130 frost free days