OSA’s organic wheat trials are coming to a close for the year in California. This month we harvested the commercial trial in Upper Lake, which included many spring wheat varieties. We’re also hosting a wheat field tour this Friday. See our events page for details.
This year we began working with Northern California organic farmer Blake Richards of Wild Rose Farm to improve his diverse quinoa variety. Quinoa is an important and emerging crop, with relatively little breeding being done for U.S. agriculture outside of a handful of dedicated farmers and researchers. We recently harvested seed from over sixty excellent quinoa single plant selections from Blake’s 16-acre quinoa field. Next year we will plant plots from each of these plants in a trial to refine Blake’s stock seed.
This month we are harvesting onion and red peppers from our variety trials with Phil Foster of Pinnacle Organic Produce. Our trial is set to find onions that yield well in Phil’s organic system, and have good flavor, resistance to pink root, and excellent storing ability. We are evaluating Italian-type red peppers for their yield, leaf canopy, disease resistance, flavor, and wall thickness. We will also be working with San Francisco Bay Area chefs to find onion and pepper varieties with excellent culinary qualities.
We have also finished a green lettuce trial with Mountain Bounty Farm in Nevada City. Our trials found a few great tasting varieties that were slow to bolt in the heat of summer in the Sierra foothills. Results from this and our other California trials will be available in the 2013-2014 California Variety Trial Report to be published later in the year.
There are many California events coming up, including workshops on organic seed production, plant breeding, and variety trials. See our events page for details.