Saving Seeds: New Reports Out for OK Gardeners and Farmers
Some people put their family heirlooms in the attic. Others keep them out in the garden – heirloom crop varieties, that is.
Older “heirloom” crop varieties are beginning to make a comeback.
Two new reports detail the performance of heirloom squash and tomatoes at the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture, a nonprofit educational foundation in Poteau.
During the 2009 growing season, the Kerr Center tested 14 heirloom varieties of squash, and 16 of tomatoes.
The squash trial rated varieties for yield and date of first harvest, and the report details several other characteristics.
One can easily be overwhelmed with summer squash,” wrote George Kuepper, who directed the trials. “Total yield may not be nearly as important as taste, marketability, or other characteristics.”
Results reported from the tomato trial include yield, date of first harvest, and marketability, along with comments on best use and other aspects.
“From a commercial perspective, the best performing varieties were not only those with high yields, but also those with high marketing percentages (reduced cracking and insect damage),” Kuepper observed.
“Historical value and novelty are not the only reasons to take an interest in heirloom varieties,” says George Kuepper of the Kerr Center.
The rich genetic heritage of heirloom varieties preserves traits that let them flourish in an age before widespread fertilizer, pesticides, and irrigation.
Another plus: since they are neither hybridized nor genetically engineered, anyone can save their seed to plant again in the next season.
The reports are available free from the Kerr Center website, www.kerrcenter.com, along with others on the 2008 trials of heirloom okra and sorghum, and a general report on the importance of heirloom variety preservation.
Further heirloom variety trials are underway for 2010.
For more information call the Kerr Center at 918.647.9123 or visit www.kerrcenter.com. The site offers free downloads of these and many other publications on various topics in sustainable agriculture.
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