Field Update: First Selections

Part of growing seed is choosing which plants get to contribute pollen and/or set seed. It is important to remove off types to maintain a variety the way you want it to look. It is also good to remove diseased and stunted plants to gradually improve a variety’s performance.

It is easiest is to let the plants choose themselves. Grow your crop under the conditions you would like your variety to thrive in and see what survives. Sometime the answers are obvious:

After a winter outside, this collard plant is doing a lot better than it’s neighbours in the background.

I dig up those collards (and any other Brassica Oleracea survivors).

I replanted the collards and his kale buddies outside of the field tunnel. These brassicas will cross pollinate to begin a new population with increased cold resistance and a mix of other traits.

Inside the field tunnel …

I wish I could post smells. These brassica flowers smell sweeeeeet –

I have already thinned out the diseased and stunted plants and left the vigourous to pollinate and set seed.

I mark my favourite plants with flagging tape to save their seed separately.

And you don’t have to wait for plants to get big for selection …

In the greenhouse seed crops are seeded into flats quite densely. This way I can see which plants come up first and biggest.

I thin the cells down to one plant per cell. This should push the population towards quicker germination and better vigor. Notice the varying amounts of purple on the cotyledons? This is a population of crossed up Brassica Junceas. At this thinning stage, I can also begin to push the population a bit towards the colors I want to see. I usually seed a good 30% more trays than I need to make sure I have more plants to look at than I need to plant.

So, these are some of the things I am selecting for these days. Through the summer, I will talk about some of the things I look at in a crop.

I have noticed that a lot of my pictures these last 2 months have been of brassicas and lettuce. I’ll try to spice things up next week with some pictures of tomato plants! See you then (unless I see you at the ECOSGN seed workshop in Ottawa first).

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