Our breeding program began in 2004 and has been going strong ever since. To date we have released:
- an OP black zucchini (Midnight Lightning),
- an OP pumpkin (Jack Straw),
- an OP butternut squash (Nutterbutter), and
- an OP tomato (Bing Cherry).
- In the next two years we are slated to release a hybrid medium green zucchini (Cha-Ching F1), an OP colored pepper (Iko-Iko), an OP spineless green zucchini (name TBA), and an OP slicer tomato (name TBA).
We collaborate with several university programs to bring out varieties on which we make selections for traits of interest within collections of university breeding material. This list includes:
- the OP pepper King Crimson (with Cornell University),
- the hybrid sweet corns Sugaree F1 and Goldfinger F1 (to be released in 2013),
- and there are several others in the pipeline.
The crops we work on for breeding projects are the ones that do well in our cool, wet climate, which is primarily the wet-seeded crops – i.e. the ones with a fleshy fruit around them. Other crops can be grown for seed here, but require a very different set of parameters for breeding purposes. We expect to grow into a wider range of crops as our program grows.
Here are some of this year’s exciting breeding projects that are underway…
- We still have a spineless zucchini in the pipeline, but other than that we’re closing out completed zucchini projects.
- In summer squash we’re selecting hard for powdery mildew tolerance and the precocious gene (a gene that makes the fruit completely yellow), and also selecting for smoothness of the fruit.
- We continue our butternut breeding program, selecting primarily for high quality (high dry matter and high brix (sugar content)) together with early maturity. We are also looking at powdery mildew tolerance, and plan to develop a PMT line with the same high quality indicators.
- New to our winter squash breeding program is a set of vining kabocha lines, from which we’ve made test crosses and are evaluating a range of traits.
- We have a series of pumpkin lines in our breeding plot. We’re looking for powdery mildew tolerance together with dark color, ribbing, and good thick flesh.
- We’re also working on a separate set of smooth painter-type pumpkins, and
- are also evaluating a suite of white pumpkins.
- We’re again looking at orange cherry lines to see if we have any material that might warrant releasing an OP “sungold-type.” So far we haven’t found a line that fits the bill, but we keep trying.
- We’ve also got a set of really nice lines for red slicer tomatoes that have been selected hard especially for flavor, but also for low cracking and good yields. We’re hopeful the release from this project will work well both in the greenhouse and the field, and will be consistently sweet with a good balance of tart and other complex flavors.
- We’ve got a set of mini bell peppers we’re looking at, together with a colored bell selection.
- We’re looking at a processing sweet corn and two popcorns, to see what kind of material we might gather from this collection.
For more information on our breeding program, please see the article: Behind the Scenes of the High Mowing Organic Seeds’ Vegetable Breeding Work – Interviews with the people who make it happen.