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Where to start with breeding?

Posted: Sat Apr 24, 2010 5:26 pm
by One2ManyHobbies
What brought me here is I started getting curious about all the different "breeds" or "strains" or "variations" that people have on plants. Like African Violets for example. There are hundreds if not thousands of different variations. Also like how some plants are bred to make them more leafy, or less leafy, or more flowers, or anything. Or how roses actually started out as simple flowers.

Now, from my understanding and research this sort of thing can really only be done in two ways:
1) growing plants and picking out two plants that have a trait that you like and breeding them, then growing and picking out two more plants and so on and so forth, thus eventually concentrating a feature.
2) Microscopes and crazy microbiology stuff that you need a lab for.

I have read somewhere or maybe heard from a friend or something that there are seeds that will actually modify the genetic structure of other plants or seeds, or something. I think the friend was referencing something from the movie Food, Inc.

Then I just recently pm'ed someone on this site about an alpine strawberry pineapple crush seeds and they send me a message back saying that I didn't need to cross them anymore but maybe I could and make my variety better.

Is this plant actually a pineapple and a strawberry crossed? or did someone just think a strawberry tasted like a pineapple and work with it?

I'd be very interested in what all this means, how I can get started doing this myself, and how I can look up information or techniques to start creating variations or breeds or what-not.

Posted: Mon Apr 26, 2010 3:21 am
by tedln
Good question. Unfortunately there isn't a good or easy answer. The only way I can answer it is to say "it's all about the genetics". When you cross breed two plants which are a pure or heirloom variety, the result will be a hybrid variety. How well hybrids produce the next generation which retain the traits you desire depends on the species/variety of the plant. Tomatoes for example can require many generations in order to breed true. I don't know what the reproductive traits of other plants are.

There are a number of people on this gardening forum who can give you genetic traits of specific plants, but you need to ask the question on the forum dedicated to the plant you are interested in.

Beyond that, all I can say is there are many, many books written specifically to address your question and most of them are way beyond my capacity to understand.


Posted: Mon Apr 26, 2010 3:49 am
by One2ManyHobbies
Thank you for the response.

Let me ask the question like this. I have bought 3 varieties of strawberries this season. Say I liked the taste of one and size of another what would I do to "cross-breed" those two plants? Would I get pollen from the flower from one and put it in the flower of another? With a paintbrush or something?

Also it would seem to me that doing something like this would require many many plants that way you have a better results population to see if any of the cross-breeds are anything like what you want.

Also, I planted all my strawberry plants in the same bed, does this mean that they will cross breed themselves simply by being so close together?

Posted: Mon Apr 26, 2010 3:59 am
by Ozark Lady
I would say do a google search on breeding strawberries.

When it comes to nightshade plants, it makes a difference which plant you use the female buds from and which you use the male buds from.

I forgot which one is the more dominant one, but you would try it both ways, and bag the flower that you just bred.

If plant A and plant B both had traits that you like and you want to cross. You would get different results if you used females of A with B males, than you would with B females and A males. I am still learning, how they figure this (and dominant and recessive genes) all out. For me, hands on would be the best way to get it worked out in my head.

Whether or not the plants cross would depend on whether they are self fertile or open pollinated. The self fertile would cross only part of the time, the open pollinated would have lots of crossing going on, if they are left to nature.

Posted: Mon Apr 26, 2010 3:59 am
by tedln
You may luck out and get an answer on this foofah forum, but I'm pretty sure there are lots of folks who grow strawberries on the "growing and caring for fruit" forum. I've never grown them and know nothing about their genetics. You can also do a search for "growing strawberries" in the search box and I'm sure you will find some past postings from people who grow them.

I would be happy to share my limited knowledge on growing squash, onions, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, and other veggies, but it wouldn't help with your strawberry questions.



Posted: Mon Apr 26, 2010 12:49 pm
by applestar
If you wanted to experiment with breeding plants, at the very beginning level, I wouldn't start with strawberries even if that's what I'm interested in. Strawberries are more easily grown from runners, not so easily from seeds.

Classically Gregor Mendel used peas. For easier handling, I imagine squash might be better. Summer squash would be faster than winter.

You might want to find this book at the library: [url=]Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners[/url] It goes into detail about how to tape closed the flowers so bees don't get in, how to protect the hand-pollinated flowers and prevent contamination, etc.