Author Topic: Adapting plants to new climates  (Read 2077 times)

Diane Whitehead

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Re: Adapting plants to new climates
« Reply #15 on: 2019-01-22, 07:14:15 PM »
Yes, they do.  I will order it tonight.  Thank you!
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
cool mediterranean climate  warm dry summers, mild wet winters,  70 cm rain,   sandy soil

Alongshore

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Re: Adapting plants to new climates
« Reply #16 on: 2019-01-23, 06:44:58 AM »
When adapting an OP or "Heirloom" variety to a region (landrace?) what are the ethics around renaming that variety? Not coming from any sort of profit driven seed company but more around still giving props to the naming convention that came before it? Do you wait until it's F7? or...

William S.

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Re: Adapting plants to new climates
« Reply #17 on: 2019-01-23, 08:15:20 AM »
When adapting an OP or "Heirloom" variety to a region (landrace?) what are the ethics around renaming that variety? Not coming from any sort of profit driven seed company but more around still giving props to the naming convention that came before it? Do you wait until it's F7? or...

It would depend partly on your methodology. Let's say you are working with a population with a lot of existing diversity and you reselect that population for shortness of season. Your new name might be something like "Alongshore's early old name". Let's say you have an adapted variety and you hybridized it with an unadapted. Your new working name for awhile might be "Alongshore's breeding grex of This x that now in the F2"

I think ethically it's important to rename pretty quickly even if your new name is pretty lame like for me it might be "William's strain of or William's grex of" If you have significantly altered the original and or just not maintained the original genetics. On any material that has to adapt significantly to a new climate, I do not think the original name would be sufficient without at least some modifier or description.

I really like Joseph Lofthouse's landrace varieties. If I grow them though I am no seed preservationist. I'm going to allow them to freely cross with say a variety from my local seed coop or my existing grex of something. The resulting grex is going to be partly mixed, partly hybridized, maybe occasionally saved fruit to packet. So if I were to send you some maxima squash seed from 2018 it might be labeled something like "William Schlegel's 2018 Maxima growout potentially including genetics from Lofthouse, Rio Lucio, buttercup, Arikara, Hidatsa, and Lower Salmon River squashes planted late, extra short season". In 2017 I saved squash to packet so if I sent you a packet from 2017 it might say something like "mother was Lofthouse pink banana type father was unknown could include lofthouse, arikara, hidatsa, buttercup, or Rio Lucio". If I allowed my maxima population to stabilize a little and applied some selection I might eventually just label it something like "William's maxima squash". It wouldn't be fair to Joseph to keep labeling something that isn't representative of his work and might not meet his standards as his.

My parsnip grex is mostly descended from Lancer which itself was a reselection of Harris. So people do or have in the past renamed reselections. I used to grow "Early Windsor" fava bean. It's name suggests it was an early selection of "Windsor".

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Alongshore

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Re: Adapting plants to new climates
« Reply #18 on: 2019-01-23, 09:07:59 AM »
Thanks William, that was helpful.

Andrew Barney

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Re: Adapting plants to new climates
« Reply #19 on: 2019-01-23, 09:38:00 AM »
When adapting an OP or "Heirloom" variety to a region (landrace?) what are the ethics around renaming that variety? Not coming from any sort of profit driven seed company but more around still giving props to the naming convention that came before it? Do you wait until it's F7? or...

I think it sorta depends. Yeah, if the original strain had a lot of natural diversity and a lot was selected out or lost (as does naturally)  then fairly quick should be good to give a new name.

But if relatively the same then who cares,  call it the same.

The problem is you have extremes on both sides. There are various "Cherokee purple tomatoes" around but they are not all the same probably. And tomatoes probably outcross more than people think (but hard to catch). And this different ones that should be renamed are not.

On the other hand peas are notoriously renamed even though they haven't changed at all.  Seems shady to me, but that has been happening for over a hundred years.

*shrugs*

But props on a great question.

B. Copping

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Re: Adapting plants to new climates
« Reply #20 on: 2019-01-23, 06:08:03 PM »
It seems like a fair number of our projects current and former collectively are adaptation projects.

Part of that is us learning to grow new things. I am better adapted to growing fava beans then I was a couple years ago.

Curiosity, adaption and fun are motivations for me.
The learning curve can be great for conversation with other gardeners.

Fuzzy white tomatoes with an indigo cap are on my breeding goal list.
Might be a bad idea for those years when bacterial spot is bad, but...other people are cautious about strange looking vegtables, and that isn’t always a bad thing.
Mostly, I think fuzzy white tomatoes with indigo caps would be FUN.

If you are in a community garden and the other gardeners pick their tomates at “breaker” stage (just starting to turn red) a green ripe variety like ‘Aunt Ruby’s German Green’ might be a good idea if you want that fully vine ripened goodness. ;) ‘Cherokee Green’ and ‘Great White’ are also tasty.

Late season cucumbers are unlikely for me due to PM, but I found this past year that Cyclanthera pedata can fill in the late season cucumber gap quite nicely. I have another potential late season cucumber substitute that I hope to evaluate this coming summer. If it resists PM I might try crossing it to a cucumber.

Ability to produce mature seed is also a consideration for me.

Carol Deppe

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Re: Adapting plants to new climates
« Reply #21 on: 2019-01-25, 04:30:46 AM »
When adapting an OP or "Heirloom" variety to a region (landrace?) what are the ethics around renaming that variety? Not coming from any sort of profit driven seed company but more around still giving props to the naming convention that came before it? Do you wait until it's F7? or...

You don't rename something casually, because when you do you are claiming yourself as the breeder of the variety as well as stripping the original breeder of credit for breeding the variety. If you are just saving seed of a variety, you cannot legitimately rename it EVER, no matter how many generations you have saved the seed. Just like you don't have a right to put your name as author on someone else's book just because you've read it many times.

Every plant experiences mutations every generation, so every generation of seed saving results in something that is genetically different to some extent from the former generation. The issue is HOW MUCH?

One way to look at it is to ask yourself the question whether your breeding contribution was so large that if you were the breeder of the original variety, you would feel okay about being stripped of credit for having bred it with respect to the putative derivative

When it comes to Pledging a variety, this situation where the putative breeder has selected from a variety is one of the most difficult. We on the Variety REview Committee have to ask ourselves whether breeding actually happened, or whether the putative breeder is just fooling himself/herself. It's easy to do if the supposed difference from the starting material is invisible. Something like storage life in squash, for example. In many cases, I think breeders fool themselves about this; they simply get better at growing and storing the variety. They have been trying to select for storage life, but actually just get better at harvesting and storing optimally. Only a serious side by side comparison of the putative new line/variety with the original material can tell for sure. Lots of time, squash varieties have little or no genetic variability for storage life.

Seed savers often assume that selection is always successful, so if they select for storage life for a decade, they automatically have a better storing variety. However, selection DOESN'T always work. Lots of time the selection isn't effective. Or is in different directions different years, so cancels out. Or there is no genetic variability for the selected trait, so selection is impossible. If the genome and genes are represented by a bowl of marbles of many colors, where each color represents variability for the trait, and you grab different distributions of colors each generation that is one thing. But what if all the marbles are yellow? Exactly the same shade of yellow? Then it doesn't matter how many times/years you select. You just don't change the trait, that is, you aren't doing any breeding, however long you select.

Where a variety is very heterogeneous and you pull out something uniform, that is, indeed a new variety. If what you select looks obviously different from the original material, that is indeed a new variety. Where what you select is something you think is different but it looks exactly like the parent, that is a lot more problematic, as you could be fooling yourself. In this sort of situation, the VRC usually asks the breeder to do a side by side comparison between putative new variety and original material.

Where the putative derivative looks obviously different, there is no problem.

Sometimes it is desireable to claim/name a line of a variety rather than an entirely new variety. This may be either because the original variety is well known, so it's helpful to retain the name where most of the important characteristics of the derivative are the same. Or because you explicitly don't think the variety is so different that you want to strip the original breeder of his/her credit. That's what I did with Sweet Meat--Oregon Homestead. I started with a crossed up line of an old farmer strain of the original (p to 25 lb) Sweat Meat. It took quite a lot of work to rebreed it into the classical Sweet Meat farmer line I remembered. But that line was the original vision, not some new vision of my own. Basically, the original farmer line was lost, and I rebred it from the crossed up remnants.

Where the variety is very heterogeneous because it is a mix of things INCLUDING PURE PARENTAL VARIETIES, then you may not have bred anything when you pull out a single plant and save seed from it unless it is something you know to be different from all parental varieties in the mix. Where the original variety is segregating material that includes no pure varieties, then if you choose an individual plant you like and breed from it, you will, indeed, have a new variety.


Alongshore

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Re: Adapting plants to new climates
« Reply #22 on: 2019-01-25, 06:18:32 AM »
Thank you for the in depth explanation Carol. Seems like there is alot of grey area here and the last thing I would want to do is to not give credit to the breeder(s) that came before. I like the idea of sticking with part of the original name since that does still give the origins and credit and aslo read that in an article that Frank Morton wrote.

What about landrace varieties that adapt to your region? That is mostly where I want to focus my attention as a hobby in my backyard - adapting seed to my unique climate (that is rapidly changing). So I want to make sure that when I give this seed out, it stays in this region and continues to improve in the upcoming years. Not that I have control over it but maybe a name convention for the landrace could have the regionality built into it? Just an idea.

Would it make sense to simplify this and say that at F"x" generation this is where it can and should be renamed?  Just a thought.

William S.

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Re: Adapting plants to new climates
« Reply #23 on: 2019-01-25, 08:25:43 AM »
If you are just saving seed of a variety, you cannot legitimately rename it EVER, no matter how many generations you have saved the seed. Just like you don't have a right to put your name as author on someone else's book just because you've read it many times.

One of the things I've learned from your books Carol is that correctly maintaining a variety is an active process of plant breeding. Though I think we should distinguish here that most varieties are pretty uniform, but that not all are. Some seed packets might contain a segregating population, a F2, a grex, a landrace old or new.

I saved seed for Joseph Lofthouse's Allium Cepa population for the first time last fall and I've already done a terrible job of maintaining it if that had been my goal. Notably it is an extremely variable population in his usual landrace style. I planted it right away when I received the seed in 2017 because onion seed is not known for longevity. My selection criteria was anything that survived the winter and produced seed. I direct seeded the single original packet in a short row across a bed, never did any thinning, harvesting, root selection, or storage selection. So survival was my only selection criteria. However from the entire original packet not sure if I got seed from very many individual onions. Maybe five or so and they were not equal in seed production. So this could represent quite a population bottleneck away from Josephs original. So I just saved the seed of Joseph's onion once and already feel like quite the footnote is in order.

Joseph posted somewhere that he was growing an onion for seed for Snake River seed co-op and it was a variety selected for overwintering in the ground. He said his population was selected for storage ability and he tried leaving it in the ground like the new onion and did not get good results. So he went back to his normal overwintering procedure for his own onion.

I am going to keep saving Josephs onion in the ground because it worked and I really value populations that can survive my winters outside. That is not following Josephs protocol. If I stopped there and kept saving the seed for many years and were to share the seed much I would probably start calling it something like my strain of Joseph's onion. At the very least I would try to write a description that my protocol had been very different from Josephs. Though this isn't apples to apples. Josephs population is not a variety. He uses the term landrace to describe what he does. Saving seed from a variable population is different from saving seed from a variety. Selection criteria is probably pretty critical. If you have none or your only criteria is that it survived to set seeds you aren't doing proper variety maintenance of the original population and you should probably mention that. I would argue that if you have a somewhat extreme climate or one that is very different from that of your seed source, that especially with variable populations your climate might be doing an extreme amount of selection even though you are not.

Also, starting population size is important. A single packet may not capture all the variation in a variable population so you can have founder effect as well depending on the species you could get some inbreeding depression. Sometimes I only plant half of an original packet. I usually try to save seed because I rarely buy seed of the same thing twice. The ability to save seed from a variety here is part of my evaluation of a variety.

I won't stop there, maybe I will acquire some other onions like those sold by the closest seed outfits who tend to find or breed material that does well here: Triple Divide seed co-op, Snake River seed co-op, or Prairie Road seed and cross them into the population. At that point it would start to be something really new. In fact I will probably grab a packet of whichever Triple Divide onion tickles my fancy off their seed rack and plant it next to my replanted Lofthouse onion seed this year. Also I already ordered a packet of Welsh onion which I guess is believed to be the other parent of walking onions with common onion. So it will get planted next to my common onions. So my 2018 planting will probably be short rows of triple divide onion or onions, homegrown seed of Lofthouse onions, and then Welsh onions. So things could get pretty weird if the Welsh onion experiment works and hybrids with it appear. Would be cool to have a homegrown strain of walking onion. I used to have walking onion given to me by a neighbor when I was a kid. I ultimately lost the last of it about fifteen years ago. So would be sentimental not just to reobtain but to recreate it.

 Since Joseph is approachable I would just ask his opinion if I was selling the seed of something derived from his work. If it was just a gift or trade to another gardener (all I've ever done with anything) I would try to write some info on the packet. I might not do a great job if in a rush. In fact I have gifted the onion seed in question to precisely one gardener and I was in a rush and not sure what I wrote. Might have been "Lofthouse onion saved seed once 2018" Things could easily get dicey from there. Breeders tend to breed, not just maintain varieties. So when we do seed swaps amongst ourselves labeling might get pretty important.

If I wanted to grow and sell seed from Josephs onion as Josephs onion I would first write to Joseph for fresh breeder's seed and selection criteria.  I would consult seed saving guides as to proper population sizes and isolation distances and make sure to follow those. I would purchase from Joseph enough seed to plant an adequate population both to save from and to rogue out any off types and produce a seed crop to sell. When I did sell that crop I would send Joseph a voluntary breeder's fee. I suspect that the amount of seed needed would be much more than a single packet. I would follow Josephs selection criteria to the best of my ability, not come up with my own. Even then if I thought my population was diverging significantly from Joseph's I would feel compelled to consult with Joseph, perhaps return some seed or plants to him for comparison and do whatever possible to insure that it still met his standards.

I don't think that just maintaining a variety like that would make me very happy unless I really liked and agreed with everything about that variety. So I will probably continue messing with everything which is a process of exploration too. Maybe ultimately I will find that for some crops there already exists something that I really want to just maintain. With Josephs seed in particular I really like the seed, but I really like the techniques Joseph propagates as well as the seed he propagates. So my general plan is ultimately to cross in additional varieties to all the land races I got from him. I often ask myself does Triple Divide have something of that species? Three or four of their seed growers live and grow seeds in my valley. They do a good job of finding varieties that do well here. So I can take advantage of their variety evaluation and selection by crossing in the varieties they sell seed from. Though there are exceptions. I think I found shorter season tomatillo genetics by casting a wider net.

Western Montana garden, glacial lake Missoula sediment lacustrian clay mollisoil sometimes with added sand in places. Zone 6A

Andrew Barney

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Re: Adapting plants to new climates
« Reply #24 on: 2019-01-25, 08:56:37 AM »
One of the things I've learned from your books Carol is that correctly maintaining a variety is an active process of plant breeding. Though I think we should distinguish here that most varieties are pretty uniform, but that not all are. Some seed packets might contain a segregating population, a F2, a grex, a landrace old or new.

This is a good point.  A while back I got seed for Dwarf Grey Sugar peas from the seed savers exchange. In that packet i got a variable population of peas that had constricted pods and inflated pods. So I chose to only save seed from the constricted pods. I'm not exactly sure what kind of pods the original heirloom stain was supposed to have,  but I do know the constricted pods were in the minority.

I don't call mine anything different though, I still call it Dwarf Grey Sugar, just with a thing like (constricted pod selection) or something like that. But maintaining some varieties are hard.

William S.

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Re: Adapting plants to new climates
« Reply #25 on: 2019-01-25, 09:23:30 AM »
Thank you for the in depth explanation Carol. Seems like there is alot of grey area here and the last thing I would want to do is to not give credit to the breeder(s) that came before. I like the idea of sticking with part of the original name since that does still give the origins and credit and aslo read that in an article that Frank Morton wrote.

What about landrace varieties that adapt to your region? That is mostly where I want to focus my attention as a hobby in my backyard - adapting seed to my unique climate (that is rapidly changing). So I want to make sure that when I give this seed out, it stays in this region and continues to improve in the upcoming years. Not that I have control over it but maybe a name convention for the landrace could have the regionality built into it? Just an idea.

Would it make sense to simplify this and say that at F"x" generation this is where it can and should be renamed?  Just a thought.

I think you need to carefully read up on the land race you start with. Is it partly a mixture, could it contain unchanged named varieties? Is it a historic or modern landrace? Is it an natural in breeder or outbreeder? When you grow it how strongly is it selected? Is it really going to just stay local? Is it really locally adapted? If it's locally adapted there wouldn't it also be useful in other similar environments far away?

In my onion example I ended up with only about five founding individuals because of natural selection- founder effect essentially without any intentional selection. This could be an example of an extreme local selection event.

With my fava beans the local environment does not seem to be doing any selection so far. So they are just the result of outcrossing between five founding seed packets with basically zero natural or artificial selection. That could change. Say I find five volunteers this coming spring that survived the winter as seeds or seedlings. That would be cool and a much stronger natural selection event.

One of the semi local seed growers with an extremely short season has an tomatillo they've been seed saving a long time. I found a shorter season one from far away in relatively short order. I wasn't particularly trying to either. Just because you grow something in a place a long time doesn't necessarily mean it has the full extent of an adaptive variation available to the species. Also sometimes if a particular trait is important a named variety may be a better source of that trait than a landrace. A landrace has variability but it may not have variability for a particular trait of interest such as shortness of season or disease resistance if the founding population doesn't have the trait or selection isn't actively for the trait it might be lost from the population. Uniform varieties can thus be a wonderful source of particular traits. I think my tomatillo population would be less interesting if I hadn't combined two landraces, a grex, and three or four varieties.
« Last Edit: 2019-01-25, 10:44:18 AM by William S. »
Western Montana garden, glacial lake Missoula sediment lacustrian clay mollisoil sometimes with added sand in places. Zone 6A

Carol Deppe

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Re: Adapting plants to new climates
« Reply #26 on: 2019-01-25, 10:43:32 AM »
The breeder of a landrace has certain goals in mind. And in most cases, it includes distributing material on which others can exercise their own preferences and creativity. Very few freelance breeders would have as their goal reproducing someone else's landrace exactly. That would make no sense unless we had exactly the same climate and growing patterns as the originator, and had no ideas or preferences of our own. Likewise with gene pool materials and grexes. Note too that for you actually cant maintain the full range of variability of a very variable population without hundreds of plants, or even thousands.

Joseph Lofthouse

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Re: Adapting plants to new climates
« Reply #27 on: 2019-01-25, 08:01:56 PM »
William: I agree. Allowing roots from my onions to remain in the ground overwinter probably resulted in a tremendous bottleneck and selection pressure away from anything that could be called "Lofthouse"... Because my onions have been selected for fall digging, and long-storage at room temperature. When I left roots in the ground last winter, with the intention to save seeds, just about every bulb died before spring. Made it really clear that I have not been selecting for ability to overwinter in the ground.

The place that has most surprized me, where my seeds tend to do well, is in hot climates. My varieties are so short-season, that they spring out of the ground, produce a crop, and die before the bugs/diseases pressures  take them out. Growing seed from my varieties in a hot/humid environment is likely to result in rapid local adaptation. Can they legitimately be called "Lofthouse" if the seed has been grown where the climate, soil, or farming practices are so dramatically different than my own?

I'm feeling more all the time like it is illegitimate for me to claim any sort of proprietariness to living beings. It may help in variety evaluation, to know something about the history of where a variety came from. With a watermelon I used to grow, I called it "Charleston Grey, Lofthouse strain" cause it had drifted noticeably in the couple decades it grew in my garden. I am fully supportive of people renaming my varieties to more fully reflect where they were actually grown, and what they might have been selected for. When people write me to ask permission to use or rename a variety, I reply that I can neither grant nor deny permission because I don't own the varieties that I create -- they belong to the 10,000 year's worth of illiterate plant breeders that went before me, and to the unknowable generations to follow. I'm merely a temporary custodian. Still, it says a lot about a variety if it once carried "Lofthouse" in it's name.

I receive hundreds to thousands of packets of unsolicited seed per year. What I often do with them, is to open the packets, throw away the labels, and combine the seed from the same species into a common seed lot. Then I'll plant a pinch of that. Perhaps something will survive long enough to contribute propagules to my current landraces.

In recent years, I have been adding "variety maintenance" suggestions to my seed catalog, listing items that I think may be valuable to maintain in a variety to keep it consistent with my "archetype" for the variety.


Joseph Lofthouse

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Re: Adapting plants to new climates
« Reply #28 on: 2019-01-25, 08:17:05 PM »

When I let people run their fingers through my beans, they will pick up a bean, and call it by a name... I just smile, because the bean that they picked up is descended from a segregating hybrid, it is genetically unique in the history of the world: past, present, and future. That's OK. A pinto bean, is a pinto bean, is a pinto bean, regardless of it's genetics. If it looks like a Pinto bean, it is a pinto bean.

reed

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Re: Adapting plants to new climates
« Reply #29 on: 2019-01-26, 04:08:05 AM »
... That's OK. A pinto bean, is a pinto bean, is a pinto bean, regardless of it's genetics. If it looks like a Pinto bean, it is a pinto bean.

That's interesting cause I'v noticed pinto is one of the more common types that show up in my pole beans from completely different parents. I just call them "pinto looking" beans. 

I name and rename things for my own reference all the time. If it is very apparently different than it's parent(s) and or I bred it on purpose I might give it a new name but still maybe include something of the old, like my Hoosier Wonder beans I'm working to stabilize. If it is different in some particular way I just add something to the old name. Like my PP Rutgers tomato, it's particularly productive when grown beside the old strain.

When I don't really know where it came from and I can't find anything like it I make up something new, like my Green Meany melons. I planted mixed seeds from a grower in Canada and Joseph along with my own and it showed up. I had never seen anything like it and they both denied responsibility so I just named it descriptively.  It's green, it has unpleasant fuzzy spines, hard gourd like shell and incredible flavor. The name is more for that collection of traits than a variety cause it is very unstable in other regards.

Utah Heart tomato came from a Lofthouse mix and I think it was already stable when I got it. Maybe it is some old variety that persisted unchanged in Joseph's mix. Maybe it stabilized from an earlier cross in his garden but in any case, I didn't breed it I just found and named it.

Hoosier Rose tomato came from de-hybridizing the commercial F1, Red Rose

Anyway my take is if it's completely different just name it. If it is descended from something well know commemorate the old name, if you know where it came from but little else commemorate that somehow if you can.