2014 Trials: We got the SARE Grant! In 2014 we are doing extensive cucumber, melon and winter squash trials, funded by a Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education grant. The project also includes a grower survey about cucurbit seed needs. Please consider taking the survey!
Evaluating resistance to Downy Mildew is a major goal of the trials. DM started showing up in our fields in mid July and is now widespread. Our trials were all planted late to expose plants to more Downy Mildew.
Winter Squash: We are evaluating 48 varieties for Downy Mildew resistance, productivity, flavor, sweetness and keeping quality. We are looking to the south in our search for Downy Mildew resistant varieties. The trial includes seedstocks from Thailand, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Panama, and the Southeast US.
Cucumbers: We obtained many of the cucumber seedstocks in our trial from the USDA’s North Central Plant Introduction Station in Ames, Iowa. The USDA gathers seed samples from around the world for future plant breeding projects. The cucumber and melon collections are maintained in Ames. We’re focusing on varieties from China and Southeast Asia in our search for Downy Mildew resistance. We’re also trialing some new DMR varieties from Cornell University. 58 cucumber varieties in all.
Melons: We also acquired a lot of these seedstocks from Central Plant Introduction Station in Iowa. Besides good DM resistance, we’re looking for melons that are sweet and that hold up well before and after harvest. Especially netted orange melons. The trial includes several OP varieties bred for DM resistance in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s that are not currently available. 35 melon varieties in all.
In addition to the SARE trials, we are also doing an observation trial of 40 watermelon varieties, looking for sweetness, flavor, lack of seediness, productivity and keeping quality.
There will be lots of exciting and interesting results so stay tuned!