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Northern Canadian C. moschata Landrace Breeding
A good crop of butternut squash is a difficult thing to achieve in many northern Canadian gardens even with shorter season varieties. On top of that, shorter season varieties achieve this by breeding for smaller fruit but other species of squash can be grown in our climate without sacrificing size. There is very little research into growing crops for northern Canadian zones and I would like to contribute.
To try to find a solution to this I am starting a project to develop landrace/swarm bred butternut type squashes that are adapted to the cold nights and short summers of the northern prairies.
I have acquired several types of grex/ landrace C. moschata seeds and I am hoping to mine genetics from them and other short season varieties based on their performance. These will then be combined and trained over a couple generation into at least one reliable landrace type crop. Selection or segregation for fruit shape and other qualities may take place in later steps.
The first step is to trial different germplasm and I am looking for people in Canadian communities with short growing seasons who want to participate in grow out trials this year. I am generally looking for gardeners in zones 3 and below. If you are unsure if you qualify, feel free to contact me.
I am putting this out there to judge interest, I do not think we need a huge amount of people to make this happen but the more we have the better the outcome should be. I have limited amount of seed but would like to have as many participants as possible.
NOTE: I have been getting a lot of interest by posting on social media gardening groups and will likely do a lot of the project in person with these volunteers. I will post updates here however.
They will be asked to self cross each plant so that seeds can be saved from the most productive and pooled for the swarm breeding. They will be asked to return seeds from this selfed fruit to the project. Any hand crosses between productive plants will also be appreciated but not required.
More detailed instructions will be provided to anyone who signs up.
I am generally looking into zones 3 and below. If you are unsure if you qualify, feel free to contact me. For a ballpark idea, this includes Edmonton and area north in Alberta, and Prince Albert and North in Saskatchewan (although being in the heart of the city microclimate may affect things).