Author Topic: Breeding/selecting with dioecious plants  (Read 1298 times)

stuartdaly88

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Breeding/selecting with dioecious plants
« on: August 18, 2017, 10:29:43 AM »
I plan to casually select and improve Marula a dioecious species.

How i see it is I have about fifty trees and should have space to plant them out soon. I would then see which ones were best and cull the worst say 70% and graft seedlings from the best 30% onto them. Then just keep doing this for many years and hopefully get some nicer fruit over time. This would just be for hobby reasons as I am an amateur. I don't expect professional or dramatic results but even slight improvement s would be really awesome. I am 29 now so should have quite a few years to have fun with this:)
I have some questions though for the more knowledgeable here :) :
1. Is there a better way to do this than described? I know the attributes I would want, namely: bigger fruit, better flesh to seed ratio, less cling on seed. I already love the natural wild taste so any of these attributes improving even a little would be great!

2. Is this population big enough? Would say 100 trees get me better chances?
I could do many more trees in very large containers but my assumption was in ground trees would be a better bet.

3.How the he'll do you select for the males? It must matter what males you decide to get rid of or keep but I have no idea how you would make this decision.

This is really interesting to me so any insights or advice would be cool

P.S - One last question
All my plants come from local populations would it be worth it try source seeds from far away, maybe more north into Africa for genetic diversity?
I have tried and failed to source from already improved plants but maybe I could catch a break in the future.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2017, 10:36:48 AM by stuartdaly88 »
Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.
-Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Finca La Isla

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Re: Breeding/selecting with dioecious plants
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2017, 10:54:26 AM »
I don't work with marula but this sounds like an interesting project.
The way you want to start sounds good.  To really get great material you are probably going to want to review more seedlings.  This could be by planting more seedlings as you cull, selecting fewer to graft.  Also, over time, you may find very good material to work with from outside your project.  The more seedlings you try, one way or another, the better your chances.
Males should be selected based on their flowering pattern.  You might notice that certain males begin flowering sooner and continue longer than others.  Consistency and range of flowering is what you want in males.
Peter

HIfarm

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Re: Breeding/selecting with dioecious plants
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2017, 01:00:21 PM »
This sounds like an interesting project you are undertaking.  However, going with a dioecious species will make it more challenging and probably more frustrating.  Peter's advice on male flowering is good and it will be one of the few attributes you will be able to see on the male trees (you won't know if they have genes for good fruit flavor, good fruit size, freestone, etc).

A grower here did similar work for peach palm.  He raised out the seedlings, graded them A to C with A being superior fruit, B being acceptable, and C being inferior fruit.  He then would cull out all C trees.  It was sort of "passive selective breeding".  He would then take the seed from the select palms & plant out a new grove; I think he did this 2 or 3 times to select for his desired traits.  He was able to develop peach palm with nice flavor, good oil content, and a thinner, more palatable peel (as well as being spineless).  Since you are working with a dioecious species, I think your work will be a lot more challenging.

Good luck, keep us posted!
John

sytanta

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Re: Breeding/selecting with dioecious plants
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2017, 06:53:40 PM »
Nice and challenging project!

I guess you need to try to sort out good trees of both males & females. That will double/triple the difficulty. For this I think:

+ The more trees you try, the more easier the project goes. Moreover, at earlier stages we don't know exactly which seedlings are males, which are females so it's good to have many trees. I'm not sure if 100 is enough but that is a good number.

+ More genetic diversity should be good with/from already improved plants. That increases the chance of having good trees.

This is an interesting project so it's good to share your experiences. Some other members may find it useful and try the same with other dioecious species.

Sy Tan

Sven

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Re: Breeding/selecting with dioecious plants
« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2017, 10:17:58 AM »
With goats, when you are looking to buy a male (buck) you look at the genetics of his mother and her traits like production, conformation and so on.

The same would go for your trees. You can't do much in the first round but once you have identified your best female trees, take seeds from those trees and grow out some males and use those for breeding.

If space is a problem you can plant larger numbers of trees in hedge rows with closer spacing and in unused areas like along roads.

9B in Brazil

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Re: Breeding/selecting with dioecious plants
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2017, 12:33:11 PM »
I love this project.  If your goal is an ongoing breeding program, then the genes of the male is more important, but if you are looking for a male just to fertilize the female, then the only trait of importance is the bloom time equal to the female trees.  I believe the flavor of fruit, size of fruit, etc are determined by the female tree alone.
I am an American from California with a small farm in Southern Brazil. 
Sou americano na Califórnia e tenho um sítio em Brusque, SC.

Marc Doyle

stuartdaly88

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Re: Breeding/selecting with dioecious plants
« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2017, 05:44:08 AM »
Thanks everyone!

Some great tips and advice here:)

I will try keep this thread updated as I slowly progress
Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.
-Jean-Jacques Rousseau

pineislander

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Re: Breeding/selecting with dioecious plants
« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2017, 08:17:57 AM »
You have likely already done this, but the old saying about not "re-inventing the wheel" comes to mind. Be absolutely sure you have looked for anyone working on this already and build on their progress, if possible. I don't know anything about Marula, but there may be subtle clues to finding what you want. Like the leaf scent in Mango seedlings being a clue to what the fruit might be years down the road. You might also try to tap into indigenous knowledge.

 

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