[nafex] Re: Are your plants working for you? AKA, Ruthless culling

Ed & Pat Fackler rocmdw at aye.net
Thu Dec 28 13:01:45 EST 2000



Christopher Mauchline wrote:

> Ed,
>     I agree with you from one perspective: many of the "old"
> varieties from a taste/texture perspective are not worth saving.  I
> had grafted a bunch of "old" varieties on a tree and then later
> discovered at an apple tasting that most of them were mealy w/out
> much taste.
>
>     But I guess I've read (and maybe I'm being bamboozled here), that
> a large percentage of livestock varieties (and by extension
> horticultural varieties) are rapidly disappearing (i.e. in cattle
> almost all milk production is from Holsteins and beef from Angus as
> both are superior for those given tasks ) and genetic variation is
> being lost.

    My response-----------

     With apple, and probably many other fruit species, the so-called
"genetic variation
being lost" is a gross misnomer for the following reason(s), or so it
appears to
me.  When the apple left the origin, it did so primarily by seed either by
man or animal.
Somewhere very early in the process, perhaps in as little as 1-2000 years,
the more tasty ones
were preferred and those incredibly few "genes" moved via the silk route to
modern
hybridization (in Great Britian in the 1700s).
     Since then, with the notable exception of M. floribunda 821 crab (the
most effective or active
ventura (scab) resistant gene), most apple varieties available today
(including most antiques)
possess incredibly few gene variations due simply to centuries of
inbreeding.
     There are two notable exceptions which come to mind.  One is Sweet 16
which possesses,
among other things, a flavor which is off the chart for apple.  The other
which comes to mind
is Pristine which possesses a leaf design/color which is more akin to
Hawthorne than apple.
I saw perhaps the great, great grandparent of Pristine at the Mycop station
in S. Russia and asked the
curator what it was.  And he said it was a natural hybrid of Hawthorne and
Apple, discovered in
Turkey back in the 30s.  One of Pristine's parents was Camuzat which also is
from Turkey, I think.

     You wrote-----------------------

>     Some of those varieties might contain genes that might be needed
> in the future (maybe this is moot because of genetic engineering).
> You noted that the station was now defunct, so those "varieties" may
> be lost.  I have read that if a characteristic is available in a semi-
> domesticated or cultivar it is better to breed from that than from a
> wild variety, as far fewer "undesirable" genes have to be weeded out.

     My response------------

     I'm not at all suggesting the germplasm preservation be ignored by
anyone.
We here in the states have wonderful repositories of near everything.  The
point that I was attempting to make, and obviously not successful, was/is
that
the near perpetual ranting and raving (at least in my 20 odd years within
NAFEX)
about these things so dominate that basic horticultural skills are being
lost
quicker than we think.

     Also, I may add that genetic engineering will never take the place of
breeding or hybridization in my view.  At best, gene splicing will work in
concert with traditional hybridization and may increase human existance
by some 10-12 mins. (on the Kosmic Klock!) at most.

Ed, So. Indiana, 11.8 miles from heaven, etc.



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