Yacon & Ulluco from Seed

This post marks the relocation of Wetting the Beds from Google Blogger to the Cultivariable web site.  You will find all future posts here and hopefully I have migrated all of the old posts over here more or less seamlessly.  Existing links to posts should still work, but will bring you here instead.  The reasons aren’t all that exciting; I just got tired of uploading images to more than one place, dealing with different sets of credentials, and losing out on the possible search benefits of having all the content in one place.

Things have been busy on the business side.  We had a great winter/spring, but experienced some growing pains with the software and in general, learning how to ship large numbers of orders in a short period of time.  That could have gone more smoothly.  We were feeling pretty good until we discovered that our software was marking an extra order completed every time we selected multiple orders for completion.  People kept asking after missing orders, which really had me scratching my head until I figured it out.  I finally finished shipping the missing orders today and that is the end of root & tuber shipments until fall.  I won’t miss that job, but by November I will be totally burnt out on wrestling tubers out of the mud and delighted to sit at a table and ship orders again.

Anyway, on to the real purpose of the post…

Two exciting new seedling developments this week.  The sixth ulluco seedling for the year popped up.  This is another with red cotyledons.  We’ll see if the pattern observed so far holds; every seedling with green cotyledons has had a double main stem, while every seedling with red cotyledons has had a single main stem.

This one slipped right out without any soil.

2015 ulluco seedling #6

2015 ulluco seedling #6

 It has been eight months since this flat was seeded, so our results are again similar to those found at the University of Turku.  Ulluco germinates at very low rates over a long period of time.

A May seedling is still early enough that we can expect to get a good yield from this plant growing in the ground.  By mid-June, any new seedlings will probably have to be grown in pots and brought indoors at the end of the season.

If ulluco isn’t rare enough for you, we had another surprise seedling this week!

yacon-seedling-2

Yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius) seedling

 Yacon is one of the harder nuts to crack among Andean root crops.  It sets seed poorly and what it does produce is difficult to germinate.  That said, I think growing yacon from seed is going to become a lot more common over the next couple of years.   A recent research paper provides some pretty effective techniques for producing and germinating seed: http://www.scielo.org.pe/scielo.php?pid=S1726-22162014000200008&script=sci_arttext

My attempts to produce yacon seed have not been successful.  I’ve managed to get some empty seeds, but I probably need to extend the season by a couple of months to have a shot at getting good cross pollination.  We’re going to give that a try this fall, by growing yacon in a new greenhouse built just for that purpose.  Surprisingly, I was able to get yacon seed from two sources this year.  First, I was pointed to some on eBay, of all places.  That seed produced this seedling after six weeks in the greenhouse.  I filed each seed as recommended in the research paper linked above, soaked them, and then kept them in a flat of very wet soil.  On the day that I gave up and moved the flat to the lower shelves where failed projects go, a seedling popped up.

Later, I received a few more seeds in trade with Ben at Sacred Succulents, who is having some success getting seed.  No signs of germination from those yet, but they were only sown about three weeks ago, so I am hopeful.

yacon-seeds

Yacon seeds: not something I ever expected to find on eBay

 Anyway, the “lost” crops of the Incas continue to give up their secrets, little by little.  It doesn’t seem too unreasonable to think that all of these crops will be routinely grown from seed a few years down the road, at least for breeding purposes.

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