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Introduction to the basics of successfully saving seed from open pollinated vegetables

Introduction to the basics of successfully saving seed from open pollinated vegetables

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  • 1. Saving Seed Saving our heritage…
  • 2. This will be a VERY BASIC overview of seed saving
    • In the short time provided, we’ll try to cover
    • Tomatoes – Solanum lycopersicum
    • Summer squash – cucurbita pepo
    • Common Beans – Phaseolus vulgaris
  • 3. Out of respect for others, we ask that you either turn your cell phone to vibrate or turn it off completely. Thank you!!
  • 4. Why save seed?
    • Local acclimatization
    • Preserving genetic diversity
    • Saving important varieties
    • Income
  • 5. Local Acclimatization As crops grow and the best are selected for seed according to the seed saver’s needs, the crop improves on that particular farm. These are often referred to as “landraces”.
  • 6. Preserving Genetic Diversity There are so few varieties available for most crops compared to 100 or even 50 years ago… And the numbers continue to decline.
  • 7. Saving Important Varieties
    • Samantha – gone
    • Bush Celebrity – not available in 2009
    • What favorite variety is next?
  • 8. Income
    • Many smaller seed companies are looking for growers for their specialized seed.
    • Saved seed is seed you don’t have to buy – a penny saved…
  • 9. But, it has to be done right
    • So, first we need to look at the technical aspects of good seed saving principles.
    • We’ll start with the basics.
  • 10. Important considerations when saving seed
    • Seed purity
      • Isolation
    • Gene pool
      • Enough plants
    • Individual plant attributes
      • Free of disease, slow bolting, etc
    • Individual vegetable or fruit attributes
    • - Color, shape, taste, texture, etc
  • 11. Basic Reproductive Botany
    • Know flower parts
    • Recognize how pollen is transferred
      • Self pollinated plants, ie. bean
      • Insect pollinated plants, ie. squash
      • Wind pollinated plants, ie. corn
    • Understand how seeds are formed
  • 12. Self Pollinated Vegetables
    • Beans
    • Peas
    • Lettuce
    • Tomato
    • Pepper
    • Eggplant
  • 13. Air-borne Cross Pollinated Vegetables
    • Corn
    • Beets
    • Spinach
    • Swiss Chard
  • 14. Insect Pollinated Vegetables
    • Broccoli
    • Cabbage
    • Carrots
    • Cucumber
    • Melons
    • Onions
    • Radish
    • Squash
  • 15. Flower Parts
    • Anther – pollen producing sac
    • Pistil – contains ovary, egg cells
    • Petals
    • Sepals
    Johnstone and Brindle, 1976
  • 16. Perfect Self Pollinated Flower
    • Male and female parts in same flower
    • Beans have closed petals to ensure self pollination
    • Tomatoes have anthers that extend past the stigma before or as flower petals open
    Johnstone and Brindle 1976
  • 17. Imperfect Squash Flower
    • Male and female flowers are separate
    • May rely on insects to complete pollen transfer
    • Can control pollen transfer and bag female flower
    Johnston and Brindle 1976
  • 18. Other types
    • Perfect but incompatible
    • Male and female plants
  • 19. Plant Nomenclature
    • Family Solanaceae (nightshade)
      • Genus Lycopersicum
      • Capsicum
      • Solanum
      • Solanum
        • species e scultentum   - tomato
        • annuum – most peppers
        • tuberosum – potatoes
        • melongena - eggplant
          • variety or cultivar Brandywine
          • King Arthur, Tiburon
          • Yukon Gold
          • Orient Express
  • 20. Plant Nomenclature
    • Family Cucurbitaceae
      • Genus Cucurbita
        • species pepo   - summer squash, pumpkin, acorn squash
        • maxima – hubbard, buttercup, kabocha
        • moschata – butternut, Long Island Cheese
        • mixta
          • variety or cultivar Zephyr, Howden, Tiptop
          • Blue Ballet, bonbon
          • Waltham butternut
          • Green striped cushaw
    - Also in the Cucurbitaceae family: Cucumis melo (cantaloupe),Cucumis sativa (cucumber), Citrullus vulgaris (watermelon )
  • 21. Why is it important to know genus and species?
    • If the variety has characteristics that you want to maintain, you need to be aware of the issue of cross pollination, and, while plants typically cross easily within a species, they typically do not between species. So, while you can probably grow butternut, cushaw and a summer squash and have no crossing, your zucchini and Halloween pumpkin will cross.
  • 22. Okay, now we have the pieces to the puzzle, how do we put them together?
    • Find a good reference to help you – such as Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth
    • Decide what seeds you want/need to save
    • Decide on how you plan to secure adequate isolation
    • Plant, rogue, harvest and store your seed
  • 23. Isolation
    • Can be
      • In time
      • With space or distance
      • Using physical barriers
  • 24. Easy first, Tomatoes
    • Self pollinated
    • Minimal plant population
    • Minimum isolation distance
    • Selection
  • 25. Another easy one, beans
    • Self pollinated, often before the flower even opens
    • Minimal isolation distance
  • 26. More challenging, cucurbits
    • Insect pollinated
    • Separate male and female flowers
    • Isolation distance
    • Varieties can look very different and be in same species
  • 27. Hand pollination Pollinate, bag or tape and tag
  • 28. Parent Plant Selection Criteria
    • Earliness – or lateness
    • Insect resistance
    • Disease resistance
    • Flavor
    • Color
    • Productivity
    • Size
    • Vigorous growth
    • Adaptation to your farm
    Watson, 1996
  • 29. Seed Cleaning Methods
    • Wet processing
      • For seeds imbedded in damp flesh of fruit
        • Remove seed from fruit
        • Wash to clean seed
        • Dry fairly quickly to prevent sprouting
        • Final drying: 85 degrees, dark area
    • Dry processing or winnowing
      • Seeds in dry pods or husks
        • Remove dry fruit from plants
        • Threshing removes seeds from coverings
        • Remove chaff
        • Final drying: 85 degrees, dark area
  • 30. Wet Processing Vegetables most moist “fruits”
    • Let stay on plant until mature – beyond eating stage for most
    • Ferment pulp and seed
  • 31. The fermentation process helps control disease
  • 32. Dry Process Vegetables be ans, corn, okra, many others
    • Let pods stay on plant until mature – dry if possible
    • Small amounts can be threshed by hand
    • Winnow out “trash” in wind or with fan
    • Allow to dry
  • 33. Drying Seeds
    • Remove seeds from fruit
    • Dry seeds: warm, dry, air circulation,
    • Never use microwave to dry seeds
    Watson, 1996
  • 34. Storage of Seeds
    • Make sure seeds are dry
    • Sealed containers: bags, jars
    • Label with variety name, date, characteristics
    • Freezer or refrigerator
    • 10 year storage life at 8 percent moisture
    Watson, 1996
  • 35. Wrap-up
    • Collect seed after fruit is mature
    • Start collections from open pollinated vegetables and flowers
    • Select for desired characteristics
    • Hybrid seeds do not come true F1, F2
    • Clean and dry collected seeds
    • Store seeds in labeled, air-tight containers
    • Store containers in freezer or refrigerator
    • Check germination prior to using
  • 36. Resources - books
    • Seed to Seed, Suzanne Ashworth
    • Return to Resistance,
    • Breed your own vegetable Varieties, Carol Deppe
    • Saving Seeds, Nancy Bubel
  • 37. Other Resources
    • The Save our Seed Project : www.savingourseed.org