Arracacha: A New Beginning

Arracacha (Arracacia xanthorrhiza) is just the sort of plant that I normally try to talk myself out of growing.  It is delicious, but a real challenge to grow in most climates.  It originated in the middle elevations of the Andes, a Goldilocks climate where temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold, but just right.  […]

Potato Towers – History of an Internet Phenomenon

Overview Potato towers are a form of extreme hilling that uses a structure to add a foot or more of soil above the seed tuber. Towers are not a new idea, but they have only become popular in recent years. Potatoes are normally hilled up about six inches, whether they are grown in the ground […]

Potato: Understanding and Overcoming Male Sterility

The majority of modern potato cultivars suffer from male sterility; they either produce little to no pollen or the pollen that they produce is not viable.  Male sterility is part of a complex of traits that makes life difficult for potato breeders.  Some varieties rarely flower at all, others will flower but rarely form berries […]

Potato: Germination of USDA Wild Potato Accessions

A black and white photo of a tray of Solanum brevicaule tubers. They are about 1 to 2 inches long, oval, and similar in form to baking potatoes.

This post is not really meant to be read start to finish.  The intent is that it will be picked up by search engines so that breeders and researchers working with these accessions in the future can find this information. We use accessions supplied by the USDA in some of our breeding work.  This report […]

Potato: Genetics – The Basics

Last year, I put together a summary of potato color genetics and ever since I have been getting emails asking questions.  A lot of those questions center on how to use the information.  I’m happy to try to answer those questions to the best of my ability, because I think potato genetics are fun.  This […]

Cultivariable at Five: Looking Backward and Forward

25 varieties of mashua, ulluco, and oca

Cultivariable is officially five years old!  (In truth, we’re really closer to seven, but I can’t pinpoint exactly when the transition from hobby to business occurred and we got our first business license at the end of 2012.  Five is about right for when I really got serious.)  They say time flies when you’re having […]

Ulluco: Color Genetics – A Familiar Beet

A quick review for those who have not been following our ulluco work: Ulluco is a crop that very rarely sets seed.  In fact, there are only two published reports of ulluco seed production: here and at the University of Turku in the early 1990s.  There is perhaps one published report of seed being found […]

Potato: Relationships Between Domesticated Species

A chart showing the evolutionary relationships between domesticated and wild potato speces

Being a fundamentally lazy person, I always prefer to search for work that has already been done by somebody else.  That can be frustrating in the world of plant breeding, where information tends to come in two forms: highly technical or excessively simplified.  There isn’t much middle ground.  My search for a chart showing the […]

Oca: Early Sprouting Syndrome

Oca tubers look unhealthy, with a dirty appearance and many eyes that are sprouting

One of the best things about growing oca is that it is generally very resistant to disease.  Unlike potatoes, which are vulnerable to more than a dozen common diseases and need constant attention, oca usually fends for itself very well.  The most common problem here is a bacterial stem rot, but it usually occurs late […]