Author Topic: Breeding a perennial dryland squash  (Read 537 times)

Gilbert Fritz

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Breeding a perennial dryland squash
« on: 2018-10-27, 05:00:00 PM »
I thought I'd open a thread here about a squash breeding project as I get ready for next year.

I'm hoping to develop a perennial dryland squash from the Buffalo Gourd, Cucurbita foetidissima. Possibilities for crossing with it are C. ficifolia, C. pedatifolia, C. radicans, and C. ×scabridifolia, with the final goal being an eventual cross with C. pepo or C. moschata. Embryo rescue might be needed.

So far, not much luck. My foetidissima plants didn't flower their first year, and the ficifolia plants were dismal looking.

Any advice is welcome. I'll update this thread as I proceed. This is probably the breeding project I'm most interested in right now.


Joseph Lofthouse

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Re: Breeding a perennial dryland squash
« Reply #1 on: 2018-10-27, 09:41:07 PM »

I grow C ficifolia. It seems to be day-length sensitive, so the plants grow huge, and don't flower until just before my fall frosts arrive. Just before is good enough. So this year, I only saved seeds from the first fruits to form. I don't know how susceptible the day-length genes are to selection pressure, but I figure that I aughta at least try. I have successfully grown two generations now. Next year will be the third generation, which often turns out to the the magical generation where projects seem to thrive.

I am growing C ficifolia in the same field as other common squash, and with the interspecies hybrids. I haven't yet seen any obvious hybrids, but I keep watching for them.


Walt

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Re: Breeding a perennial dryland squash
« Reply #2 on: 2018-12-06, 11:53:24 AM »
You might check with U of AZ about amphiploids of domestic squash and Cucurbita foetidissima.

Gilbert Fritz

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Re: Breeding a perennial dryland squash
« Reply #3 on: 2019-09-20, 02:20:58 PM »
Well, not much progress to report on this (or any of my other projects either.) It was a bad year, and a lot of my stuff didn't even get planted. I did plant out the wild squashes; C ficifolia, C. foetidissima (from last year) C. pedatifolia and C. ×scabridifolia. The last two stayed very small, though vigorous and bushy looking. No flowers. The ficifolia flowered, but I don't think it will have time to ripen fruit. The foetidissima is larger than last year, but still no flowers. I'll try to overwinter the perennials and try again next year.

Ellendra

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Re: Breeding a perennial dryland squash
« Reply #4 on: 2019-09-21, 04:02:04 PM »
I grow C ficifolia. It seems to be day-length sensitive, so the plants grow huge, and don't flower until just before my fall frosts arrive. Just before is good enough. So this year, I only saved seeds from the first fruits to form. I don't know how susceptible the day-length genes are to selection pressure, but I figure that I aughta at least try. I have successfully grown two generations now. Next year will be the third generation, which often turns out to the the magical generation where projects seem to thrive.


Has anyone tried setting up something to shade day-length sensitive plants in the morning and evening? Sort of like a reverse sundial?

Walt

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Re: Breeding a perennial dryland squash
« Reply #5 on: 2019-09-21, 08:09:39 PM »
Yes.  It is quite common in the potted plant trade.  To get Christmas cactus and poinsetias to bloom at Christmas, for example.
Breeders often do it to get crosses out of season.  Back in the early 1980s i was breeding Zea diploperennis with domestic daylength insensetive corn, and daylength sensitive sunflower species with each other, I had a row of each planted by the parking lot.  I quit work at 5 PM, and put barrels over plants just before I left.  I got to work at 8AM and took the barrels off first thing.  Even small plants could be forced to bloom.  Weekends they were left in the dark.
Corn breeders crossing tropical corn (usually daylength sensitive) with norther corn (daylength insensitive) do it.  Same with sorghum breeders for the same reason.
Squash might be harder as they tend to be wider plants.  But you can do it.  I have read that if even one leaf sticks out of the dark, it can keep the whole plant from blooming.  I doubt that, but try to keep the plant covered during its dark time.I have never pollinated squash except with fresh pollen.  But generally insect pollinated plant's pollen can store well.  Waterlilies are the only exception I know, but there must be others.  But you might want to try storing squash pollen to make crosses, rather rhan getting them to bloom out of season.
Either way, good luck.

Walt

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Re: Breeding a perennial dryland squash
« Reply #6 on: 2019-09-22, 01:02:23 PM »
Once flower buds have started, you can discontinue the long nights.  The flower buds will go ahead and grow and bloom.  But new flower buds may not be made, depending on the species.  Helianthus (sunflower) long day species, once started blooming, would bloom on until fall.  Zea diploperennis would too. 

The names" long day plants" and "short day plants" are not well named.  It is actually night length that triggers the bloom.  This was found by growing plants inside with lights on timers.  Plants were given a 30 hour day=night cycle.  The 30 hour days were divided into different amounts of day and night.  Turns out only the night length mattered.

galina

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Re: Breeding a perennial dryland squash
« Reply #7 on: 2019-09-23, 11:08:36 AM »
I grow C ficifolia. It seems to be day-length sensitive, so the plants grow huge, and don't flower until just before my fall frosts arrive.

Here in Britain I have no such problem with ficifolia.  They flower early and make squashes with no issue at all.  Do I have a daylength adapted strain?  I have read that there could be problems, not here it seems.  And others in UK who are growing ficifolia have no late problems either.  Now Giant Bolivian Achocha - that is another story -, but even they are getting earlier now.  I have full sized ones right now.  Previously we struggled to get them in October.   I wonder whether this is a matter of adaptation over a few years. 

And we are much further north than most of the USA at 52 degrees north.   
Central England, cool, maritime (ish), cloudy, often dry, but recent weather unpredictable