Canadian Organic Vegetable Improvement 2020 Variety Trials

Posted on Thursday, 6 August 2020 under Canadian Organic Vegetable Improvement

For the Canadian Organic Vegetable Improvement (CANOVI) project, we partner with the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security and the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm. The project is multi-faceted, and has regional and national participants in both variety trials, and in participatory plant breeding. Variety trials are an important and effective way to gain regional performance information and market preference that can inform breeding priorities (participatory and formal); identify varietal characteristics for farmer’s, gardener’s and researcher’s reference; and can be a way to have substitute varieties on hand if ones should become unavailable from seed companies.

Nationally, there are 63 farms participating in the 2020 variety trials, 16 of which are in BC from the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and Coast, Okanagan-Thompson, Cariboo, and Peace regions. We are collecting evaluations on appearance, marketability, yield, uniformity, bolt resistance, flavour, winter hardiness and storability for rutabaga, red carrot, orange storage carrot, and radicchio.

For the rutabagas, we are particularly interested in root smoothness, as rough and hairy roots can be difficult to clean and prepare.  For red carrots, we are trialing all open-pollinated (OP) varieties, for which there are not many available on the market, and while the root is vibrant in appearance, there tends to be a lack of flavour and a tendency to bolt. For the orange carrots, we are focusing on comparing the OPs to the commercial hybrids, storability, and root uniformity. And for the radicchios, we are honed in on exploring days to maturity, and winter hardiness of the 4 sweeter tasting market classes we have chosen (Chioggia, Castelfranco, Treviso and Lusica) to inform regional variety choices, and are exploring season extension options. Additionally, we will be engaging producers and consumers with chefs to explore different culinary options for the diversity of crop varieties and classes.