NOVIC: Breeding in Response to Farmers’ Needs

Growing Magazine features the Northern Organic Vegetable Improvement Collaborative (NOVIC) in an article titled, “Collaborative and Organic.”

Jim Myers, professor of horticulture at Oregon State University, manages NOVIC. He listed a few advantages to the project: “I think it gives us a broad set of environments and many environments in one year for testing our breeding materials. That’s always a problem with breeders. It takes a lot of resources to run a trial. My rule of thumb is to have at least nine year-locations of data before I release a variety. That could be like three locations in three years, or one location in nine years or some combination. You need that multi-environment data to really understand how varieties behave.”

The collaborative focus on five crops gives researchers a snapshot of a variety performing in four regions of the country and multiple trials. Myers said, “We have these mother-daughter trial arrangements where we have the replicated trial on station at the hub location, and then three satellite trials on organic farms with these materials.”

As a partner in NOVIC, OSA is working on a good March harvest carrot for the Pacific Northwest. We’re breeding a Nantes-type carrot at Nash Huber’s farm in Sequim, Washington. Jim Myers thinks the new carrot may work in a number of “maritime” environments, including northern California and Long Island.

Micaela Colley, OSA’s executive director and director of research and education, said: “Most research is not aimed toward fulfilling the agronomical and market needs of organic producers, so this project is unique in that it’s a collaboration of five institutions that are receiving input from organic producers on what they need in terms of qualities in vegetable crops, and then breeding in response to those needs.”

Read the full article

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