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Messages - Sven

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Iím scared to post anything here because Iím gonna get yelled at, but I want to say something in the hopes it helps some of you understand GMOs better. Maybe this discussion should be in the off topic section.  Iím not for or against GMOs in a general sense.  There is so much hype that very few people have any kind of understanding of the process and from reading articles it is obvious to me that most of the people that are spearheading the anti-GMO campaign donít understand it at all.  Donít get me wrong, I think Monsanto is as evil as the next guy.  Iím sure more than half of you after reading this will still say ALL GMOs are bad, itís just one of those things that people are emphatic about.  I used to work in labs and I even did some transfections.  Thatís how you make a GMO at least before the media came up with a catchier name and acronym.

I guess I will start with a couple questions.  Would you eat a red pineapple that was created by breeding a commercial variety with a wild relative that has red flesh?  Can you tell me the difference between that theoretical pineapple and the one they have created in the lab?  If all the genes they used to make this red pineapple in the lab were obtained from other pineapples would you still object?  If so, why?  What about taking anthracnose resistance from one mango and putting it in a mango that is susceptible to it?

The process of creating a ďGMOĒ is taking a gene and inserting it into the DNA of whatever organism you want to ďimproveĒ.  You take a suspension of many, in this case, pineapple cells that have been separated into single cells and add some DNA of the gene you hope to add to the pineapple and then you make the cells porous in some way and the DNA enters the cell.  Electroporation is a very common way to make the cells porous.  Essentially you just shock the cells, so no chemicals needed.  Other compounds used are lipids that form a complex with the DNA and then can pass through the cell membrane (a phospholipid bilayer) and gain entry into the cell.  Iím sure there are other ways as well.  Once inside the cell the transfected DNA is incorporated into the cellís DNA by the cellís own ďmachineryĒ, proteins and such that are constantly checking, fixing and maintaining the DNA.

Depending where the DNA gets inserted in the cellís genome (itís DNA) the gene may be expressed heavily, moderately, just a little or not at all.  Many cells will die from the process or if the DNA gets inserted in and disrupts the function of a critical gene that cell wonít survive.  The cells that are left alive are then spread on some sort of media like auger plates and grown into colonies, each colony arises from a single cell.  Actually this whole process is nearly identical to propagating plants by tissue culture except for the transfection step.  They are then given certain plant hormones in succession, which cause the colonies to grow shoots and then roots.  Then the little plantlets are grown to maturity and they look for color in the fruit and select the ones that have worked which is usually a very small percentage. 

What I object to is people saying blindly that all GMOs are bad and bad for you.  If tangerines and pineapples were closely related enough to cross breed would you object to the offspring?  Transfection is just a tool, itís how it is used that should be looked at and objected to on a case by case basis not blindly banned, in my opinion of course.  Itís sort of like objecting to traditional forms of plant breeding because it isnít natural. 

Most people misunderstand even round-up ready plants.  They have transfected corn (or any round-up ready plant) with a gene that infers resistance to round-up.  What this means is they can now spray round-up directly on the corn plants and they wonít die but the weeds around them will.  So to me the scary part is that the corn plants are now doused with round-up not that they have inserted a gene that codes for a protein that brakes down round-up in the cells.  Usually that sort of enzyme is effective at very low concentrations so if there is a cancer causing agent in round-up ready corn I would highly suspect it is the round-up or breakdown products of round-up as opposed to the transfection process or the enzyme produced by the tranfected DNA.  Of course that is just speculation and would have to be proven by experimentation.  I.E. does round-up ready corn grown without being sprayed with round-up cause cancer?

Iím not saying I want to eat round-up ready produce, quite the contrary, but transfection is a tool much like traditional plant breeding, but the problem is the way it is being used.  I would be just as scared of eating corn that was traditionally bred to be resistant to round-up (if such a thing existed) as I am of eating GMO round-up ready corn because of the likelihood of increased use of round-up and direct spraying of round-up on the crop.


Tropical Fruit Buy, Sell & Trade / Re: Suspicious seed sellers
« on: December 02, 2013, 11:17:28 PM »
I used to trade seed regularly with someone in Brazil and more often than not packages took over a month to arrive, often closer to 2 months.  I just received some seed from India and it took over 30 days.  So be patient, I think your seeds will arrive. 

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Longan on Carrotwood graft update
« on: November 27, 2013, 11:33:53 AM »
Cutting the leaves in half or removing half the leaves would help, but I wouldnít loosen the tie on the graft union.  The juices will flow just fine even when if the tie is girdling the branch some.  Is it girdling the branch at all?  The graft union probably isnít healed completely and loosening the tie will just make things worse.


A friend of mine had a yellow skinned Cereus peruvianus growing.  Iím hoping to go up and see him before spring and that is one of the plants I am going to try to get cuttings of.  It would be a while before I would get seed but I will let you know if he has some in case you are interested.  This isnít the one from Israel and I believe it has white flesh like a regular red skinned C. peruvianus. 


Tropical Fruit Buy, Sell & Trade / Re: Looking for yellow dragon fruit
« on: November 15, 2013, 08:43:35 AM »
There are some pictures of the hybrids in this thread:

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Show me your atemoya trees
« on: November 15, 2013, 08:39:33 AM »
Sven, thanks for the advise. I have had mixed results with different staking methods. I have my lychee tree staked as you suggest, but it was strong enough to hold itself up to start with, and only needed a bit of extra stabilization to keep a strong wind from uprooting it. The atemoya however was the thickness of a pencil when I planted it, and completely unable to hold any of its growth upright. Last year, I staked it as you suggested, and sadly, a very strong windstorm overpowered one of the tension points on the trunk, and it was snapped off at about 8 inches off the ground (losing about 5' of tree). I had the same problem with a Hong Kong Orchid that snapped in the same windstorm (and that one was about the size of my wrist where it snapped). So I moved to the current staking system. I had good success with the Hong Kong Orchid. It is now 20' tall and has a trunk that is about 6" in diameter and no stake, perfectly self supporting. I'm hoping that after a spring pruning to shape it that the Gefner will be close to self supporting. It has sized up considerably this year and its trunk diameter is now larger than a quarter.

Cool, youíre way ahead of me.  You can probably prune them back at planting time so there isnít that much surface area for the wind to grab.  Twisting can also be a problem too if they arenít tied tight.  Even the way you have it staked you can tie the lower ones tight and then leave the upper ties looser so the tree can sway back and forth a little bit but not enough to break which should help them put on girth. 

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Greenhouse Plastic Recommendations Please?
« on: November 15, 2013, 08:30:45 AM »
Thanks All,

We set it up a year or so ago and used fairly thick (maybe 8 Mil) Home Depot plastic and it worked great for the winter but about mid summer it just disintegrated.  The way we have it set up itís not that easy to put on and take off so we are looking for something that will last several years without falling apart. 

Weíd love to use the corrugated polycarbonate sheets but itíd be about $800 to cover the whole thing so I think for now we will have to go with the plastic sheeting due to our budget restraints.  The Palram sheets look interesting, do you really not need to put shade cloth up during the summer? 

Farmtech used to sell remnants in their catalog that were big enough for our little greenhouse, so I am going to call them later today and see if they have anything and Iíll also call Growers Solution as they seem very reasonable but we donít need a 100 foot roll.  Thanks again everyone.


Tropical Fruit Buy, Sell & Trade / Re: Looking for yellow dragon fruit
« on: November 13, 2013, 12:11:32 PM »
If you're talking about S. megalanthus (now H. megalanthus) I believe they all have throns on the fruit but you can brush them off once the fruit is ripe.  I could be wrong, but all the ones I've seen have had thorns.

Thank you all for the help.

Noel, I forwarded your comments to my Mom.

Luc, central Mexico just sounds like it should be tropical.  Iíll tell her to look for locally grown fruits and maybe sheíll find something unusual that will do well in our cooler areas.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Dragon Fruit thread.
« on: November 13, 2013, 11:32:43 AM »
If the plant grows well you should have your first bloom in the 2nd or 3rd year.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Show me your atemoya trees
« on: November 12, 2013, 10:25:58 AM »

The way you have it staked doesnít promote a strong trunk.  The more the trunk or any branch bends the more diameter and therefore strength it will attain.  Nurseries stake trees in pots like you have yours staked because they grow taller faster that way since they donít need to put energy into a strong trunk.  Itís better to put a stake on either side of the tree a foot or two away and then tie it to each stake.  This allows the trunk to sway and bend somewhat without damaging the roots and will give you a stronger trunk sooner.  The lower you can tie it and still have it stable the better.


My Mom is going to be in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico for 2 weeks and I was wondering if any of you know what fruit she might expect to find in the markets there this time of year?

Are any of you familiar with this city?  Any markets you would recommend?

Thank you,

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Syzyygium jambos- rose apple
« on: November 11, 2013, 10:22:03 PM »
Thanks Jack.  Iím a little less concerned since your winter temps are similar to ours, maybe Iíll plant it out next year and see how it goes.  By the way my uncle lives on the mesa and has 5 acres of Hass planted, itís a great area.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Greenhouse Plastic Recommendations Please?
« on: November 11, 2013, 10:16:45 PM »
Can any of you recommend some good reasonably priced UV stabilized greenhouse plastic?  We have a carport canopy frame that we made into a greenhouse and I need to get new plastic on it soon.  Thank you.


Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Need help in identification on grow bag.
« on: November 11, 2013, 10:07:25 PM »
Ha, Iíve only heard it called a tote.  You can try calling Brookhurst Mill in Riverside, I used to buy 2000 lbs of pig feed at a time and they came in those totes.  There was a $15 deposit on them, so if you are looking to buy some you might ask if they would sell some to you.  Also Home Depot sells gravel in them.  Hey by the way itís called a tote  ;)

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Syzyygium jambos- rose apple
« on: November 10, 2013, 08:57:36 PM »
There is (or was, itís been a while) a mature tree at the Fullerton Arboretum (Orange County) that fruits every year and it does taste like roses smell. 

Jack, your spicy one sounds very interesting.  How cold does your property get?  I have one in a 5 gallon pot as well, but I may put it in a 15 gallon and wait till itís a little bigger to put it out.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Perssimon Festival 11-22-13 Irvine, CA
« on: November 08, 2013, 10:13:26 AM »
Thanks Fyliu, that's the one, I couldnít remember the name.

MMMMommy, I donít see why you wouldnít be able to bring your kids.  The flyer says ďopen to the general publicĒ and most events at the field station are pretty informal.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: USDA Hilo and lychee grafting
« on: November 07, 2013, 09:25:58 AM »
Very cool.  Iíve got my fingers crossed.  I hope it works and Iím hoping it solves the leaf burn problem here in SoCal from the lousy water.  Also hoping it infers heavy regular production and frost resistance.  Ok maybe dreaming is a better word for it than hoping.  ;)

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Persimmon trees - mature size?
« on: November 07, 2013, 09:21:36 AM »
Iím not sure how they will do in Florida, but they are a vigorous tree and you can prune them heavily every year and they will come back well.  So they are easy to keep in shape or to a particular size.  You can let them get huge or shape them into a 5 foot hedge.

The ones at SCREC (see picture below) get pruned back hard every year to keep them from getting bigger.  They fruit on new wood so there is no worry of reducing your crop by heavy pruning.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Perssimon Festival 11-22-13 Irvine, CA
« on: November 07, 2013, 09:04:09 AM »
If you guys can go and want to carpool Iím definitely in.  I can drive and my truck fits 5 but it only gets 9 MPG so if anyone else is willing to drive it would save us some money and Iíd be more than happy to pay my share.

There are many interesting varieties at the station that most people have never tried.  Itís definitely worth a trip out.  There is one with brown streaks or color inside that you can eat hard like a fuyu that is very good.  My favorite was always a tiny grape sized fruit that dries on the tree.  They are seedy but have great flavor when they are dry.  Itís one they use as a rootstock not for the fruit but I always liked it. 

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Dragon Fruit thread.
« on: November 07, 2013, 08:51:33 AM »


Yes, several of them  :o ::).  Thank you for pointing it out, I've corrected them.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Dragon Fruit thread.
« on: November 06, 2013, 10:27:32 AM »
I should have mentioned that that evaluation isnít mine and it was probably based on a single or small number of fruits.  I think I only had the G2 bloom once and I donít recall the fruit or even if it set.  G1 on the other hand fruited for me and is a very good fruit, in fact itís fruit had the highest brix I saw, so Iíd expect G2 to be good quality as well.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Dragon Fruit thread.
« on: November 05, 2013, 07:48:03 PM »
All I have written down is Guatamalan #2, Self fertile, fair quality.  It should be red fleshed.  I got cuttings of it from both Paul Thomson and Exotica nursery back in the day.  There is also a G-1, or there use to be.  I have some pictures of the bloom but none of the fruit.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Dragon Fruit thread.
« on: November 05, 2013, 02:38:30 PM »
I just found this in a old word file.  It's got to be from Paul, it may be from his book or some other source, I'm not sure but I thought I would post it.  I added the newer names.

Paul Thomsonís Hybrid Pitahayas

   The first hybrid seeds were from a cross made of two unknown species ĎNeitzelí and ĎRixfordí. All seedlings of ďNeitzelĒ X ĎRixfordí must be cross pollinated to set fruit. The seedlings of ďNeitzelĒ X ĎRixfordí are:  1-S, 2-S, 3-S, 4-S, 5-S, 6-S, and 9-S. The first seedlings fruited in 1998 and all fruited by 2000.

   Seedlings 7-S and 8-S are from a cross between 'Houghton' and ĎRixfordí, both with red flesh of excellent flavor. `Houghton may not be a Hylocereus but a related genus as the fruit has very small scales each with a sharp spine at its tip, a characteristic not found in fruits of the genus Hylocereus.  Fruit is round and 2Ē in diameter. It is very frost hardy and has only suffered minor damage by a temperature of 25 degrees F. The 2 seedlings are intermediate in hardiness between the two parents.

   1-S (Physical Graffiti). First fruited in 1998 with two fruits weighing 1 pound 8 ounces and 1 pound 10 ounces. A very attractive fruit, flesh a dark pink, flavor very good.    

   2-S (Cosmic Charlie). First fruited in 2000 with two fruits weighing 1 pound 4 ounces and 1 pound 8 ounces. Flesh a deep red, and flavor very good to excellent.

    3-S.--ĎDelightí -- First fruited in 1998 with two fruits weighing 1 pound 4 ounces and 1 pound 8 ounces. Flesh color was a delicate pink and the flavor was superb. Other people who have eaten it are equally enthusiastic. I can truthfully say the flavor runs a close second to S. megalanthus fruit I have eaten, although they are two different fruits each with its distinctive flavor. I believe flavor wise it is about as good a fruit as we can expect to get from any plant in the genus Hylocereus. The plant bears well, and is a good grower. Two-year-old cuttings have fruited heavily giving it a good bearing potential.

   4-S. Flowered for the first time in 2000 with one fruit. Attractive dark-pink outside with flesh a pale-pink, the most nearly white flesh of any of the hybrids. Weight was 1 pound, flavor very good. The plant appears to be a somewhat dwarf grower, low and spreading with several upright stems in the center..

   5-S (Purple Haze). First flowering in 1999 with 5 fruits weighing from 1 pound to 1 pound 6 ounces. Outside color pinkish-red with flesh a dark-red or magenta. Flavor good to very-good but no improvement over the parent plants. Spines larger than any of the others making it less user friendly and harder to handle.

   6-S. First fruited in 1998 with two fruits weighing 1 pound and 1 pound 8 ounces. Flesh a dark red, flavor good to very good, fruit very attractive in appearance. A very vigorous grower and one of the hardiest. Severely damaged in the 31 Jan 02 freeze and was removed,

   7-S. First fruited in 1999 with 5 fruits weighing 7 to 8 ounces, a dull orange-red outside with very small scales, flesh a dark red, flavor excellent. Severely damaged in the 31 Jan 02 freeze and was removed.

   8-S. First fruited in 1999 with 6 fruits weighing 12 ounces, a deep red outside with very small scales, flesh a very attractive deep, almost fluorescent magenta, flavor excellent.

   9-S (Dark Star). First fruited in 1999 when it produced one beautiful fruit weighing 1 pound 10 ounces, red flesh the same as the ĎRixfordí parent. with flavor running a close second to ĎDelightí (3-S). In 2000 it had 8 fruits weighing 14 ounces to 1 pound 4 ounces each. This, too, I believe, has a commercial potential. The flowers of this plant are unique inasmuch as the stigma lobes have split ends or are     bi-fid.

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