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Cross pollination of Beans

Posted by macmex 6b (My Page) on
Sat, Jan 28, 12 at 15:20

Hey folks,

A couple months ago I was speaking with Glenn Drowns (Sandhill Preservation Center) and mentioned how crossing between my beans has taken a real upturn in recent years. He enlightened me with a bit of information that I have been needing to share. It turns out that, when conditions are hot and dry, bean flowers open wider, allowing for easier pollination by insects.

I guess this translates to being more wary when years are hot and dry. But I'm still going to reduce the number of varieties I grow in a given year, spread them farther apart, and grow in larger blocks, taking seed from the middle of a given block.

George
Tahlequah, OK


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Cross pollination of Beans

Glenn is a wealth of information.
With him cutting all ties with SSE will be a loss for them that they will soon regret. He called a month or so ago and we talked sweetpotatoes ( as if anyone had to guess that) we decided that some of the numbered ones need a real name so I let him do the honors....

I don't know how he does all that he does......

I will (I hope) be planting out some heirloom beans that my grandmother grew every year. I want them to stay as pure as possible so they will probably be the only ones I plant. I haven't had them since she passed back in 1988 and I miss those greenbeans and think about them every year. I just get too busy to plant them.... I figured out they were White Dutch Half Runner.


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RE: Cross pollination of Beans

George,

Thanks for sharing this with us. I had wondered why you were suddenly having more crossing because it seems like the last 2 or 3 years you've seen some of that every year.

Gary,

I don't know how you do all that you do!

Dawn


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RE: Cross pollination of Beans

Gary,
Hadn't heard he had cut all ties with SSE. Doesn't surprise me. I have stated my opinions and quit renewing my membership shortly after Amy basically took charge. I have moved on and won't say much more. There are others doing the same work they do so I try to help them when I can. Glen was a loss. And so was some of the long time employees she eliminated in my opinion. Jay


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RE: Cross pollination of Beans

Jay,

I agree with everything you said. I used to admire SSE so much and now I just don't know what to think about them any more. I am sure Glenn had his reasons.

Dawn


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RE: Cross pollination of Beans

Jay, what others doing the same work? I'd like to show a little support but have been holding back from joining SSE due to all of the hubbub. I don't know much about the hubbub, just bits & pieces here & there, but it was enough to make me leery. One of my neighbors has been very insistent that I join SSE but I've held strong. LOL

George, good to know about the crossing. Thanks for sharing that!

Diane


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RE: Cross pollination of Beans

Diane,

Here's a link to a group that does quite a bit. I am positive there are others. Gardenweb is one of them.

This group is called Homegrown Goodness, and they are doing a good grassroots work. But I believe "grassroots" is the key. Once a group becomes an "organization," and is profitable, it seems that there are controllers who seek to take over. The original mission of true preservation becomes blurred. As a pastor, I have to say I've seen the exact same dynamic in churches. Wherever there is money and influence, someone is bound to show up with ulterior motives.

Now, this isn't necessarily reason to avoid all groups which are corporately organized. But, I believe it's reason to watch and be aware. What I'm about to say, I've stated on GW before. The only real hope for true preservation is to be found in the people. We need to promote preservation by every possible means, but especially through relationships and mentoring of new gardeners. I would rather see 100 individual gardeners each maintaining 1 prized heirloom, than 1 individual maintaining 100 heirlooms. I guess it's along the lines of "don't put all your eggs in one basket."

I'm sure there are numerous groups out there, often on the Internet, who are working at preservation. Gardenweb is one of them. I've seem more actual preservation work, with some varieties I've offered, through GW than through the SSE.

I have never purchased seed through the SSE catalog and never will. Though the original idea of offering a catalog, in order to relieve pressure on the annual Yearbook seemed good. I haven't been able to bring myself to purchase from them because I feel that it is unfair competition. When I joined the SSE it was indeed a grassroots movement. But somewhere along the line it has become a business, a subsidized business. When they use my dues and donations from others to establish their own seed company, and compete with private individuals, I consider that to be unfair.

Also, as mentioned in other threads, it is important to support and patronize local & regional seed companies, especially those who are privately owned, and even more so, if they maintain and produce at least some of their own seed. There are still a number of good ones, and I see new ones trying to start up all the time.

Jay expressed his doubts to me quite some time ago. I'm still not able to discern exactly what happened back in Decorah, IA. But I have come to believe that he's basically on target.

One more thing: having lived in quite a few different regions, even outside the US, I am acutely aware that it is impossible to do real preservation work for any given region, outside of that region. Too often things won't grow or prosper away from home. Yet Midwestern USA is but one region. The USA is but a small part of the world. Real preservation must spread out, and, it can not be so exclusive as to limit itself to those who can afford an SSE membership. Do you know why there haven't been any rural Mexican members of the SSE since my family and I returned home (and we weren't really Mexicans), it's because they can't afford to pay. Yet their country is of huge importance when considering preservation of food crops.

George

Here is a link that might be useful: Homegrown Goodness


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RE: Cross pollination of Beans

Thanks for the link, George. I registered & read there a while back but must have lost/forgotten about it. I'm especially excited about "re-finding" it because I see that Joseph is there. He's the inspiration for my jumping into landraces last year and I'm going in even deeper this year.

I agree with all of your points above. That is why I try to choose carefully where to send my seed money each year. Little as that is most years, it's still a voting tool.

Diane


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RE: Cross pollination of Beans

Diane,
Native Seeds is one I try to support by buying seeds from and also considering donating too. I will try to post the names of a couple of others that seem to have escaped my old timers memory. Glen and Sandhill is another. They serve a good purpose. I did have an issue with them but it wasn't with their seeds. I feel they maybe over loaded with work which makes it difficult to do everything like they should and would probably like too. When I look at all they attempt to do it is amazing and to think the last I knew he was still teaching. I will list others later.

George I agree with all you stated. I visit a few forums and one chat site. Not as often as I used too. Homegrown Goodness has some good members. Members of some sites are more about developing new varieties than saving the old. That is fine. I learn from each group but I try to keep in mind the goal of each. Like you I've seen more preservation among individuals and small groups than I have with some preservation businesses. Native Seeds is an exception in my opinion. I would like to see one formed where growers/preservationists like you could offer your seeds that didn't also sell seeds themselves. Native Seeds and Southern Seed Exposure sell seeds but at least they don't require a membership or compete against their members. Native Seeds in more of a regional organization. Much of what they sell grows well here. They have managed to get many of the seeds from small locales out to other growers so the chance of being lost is less.

I try to grow many varieties from this area. I have seed for and grow a tomato variety every few years for fresh seeds that was bred and developed for Kansas growers by K-State in the 20's and 30's. Produces well in our climate but nothing impressive about it. This year I ordered seeds from Burrell Seeds of Rocky Ford, CO. They have been in business since 1900. They sell to the commercial and residential growers along the Arkansas Valley. Their Burrell's Yellow Valencia onion was an AAS winner in the late 30's and still being grown by many in this area. They also offer a tomato variety they developed that has been grown in that area for years. They offer a full range of veggie and flower seeds. Not sure why but this year was the first I ever ordered from them. Plan to go visit their office and look at all of the old seed bins ect sometime. I also buy from several other small growers in this area and elsewhere. Most have full time jobs and sell a few seeds to support their preservationist efforts. I buy my sweet potato slips from Gary as I appreciate the work he does. Although I plan to start more of my own this year.

Better get outside. Jay


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RE: Cross pollination of Beans

George

Preach it bother and Amen!!! You perfectly said things I would liked to have said.

Organizations become corrupted when there is lots of money involved and their board is self governing and self appointing...I honestly think that the IRS that approves non-profits should make it a requirement that they have a democratically elected board by the members.. I'm dealing with that right now with the Cherry Street Farmer's Market. It has a self governing/self appointing board that is not staying with the original mission and targeting some of their competition with harassment. they practice vender favoritism, and unfair trade and don't enforce the Policies equally.... If you break a rule they can kick you out.....Why, because it is now a huge market with lots of money being made (by some) and a corrupted group got in control.

But in the SSE it's the members that make it what it is. I know many people have dropping out and they are actually punishing all the great and wonderful people that in their minds are supporting a cause. I also agree with George that it is unfair for a non-profits to go into competition on the scale that SSE does. Just like I believe it is unethical for the Master Gardeners to go into competition with the people the are supposed to help with huge plants sales. They even buy their plants from out of state sources.. I know they need some money to do some of the things they do, but they need to do it like other non-profits and solicit grants or private donations and not bite the hands that feed them.
Yikes, I guess I'm in a venting mood today....sorry.....

I have for the longest time now thought about organizing a non-profit for the Sweetpotato germplasm collection. It would offer the chance to get grants to help maintain them. I have so many varieties that don't pay their keep so to speak, but I don't want to throw them out. I send every new one I get to Glenn and vise versa so there is a back up as It's enviable that I will loose a variety or two over the course of the winter and I really can't afford to keep them in the best conditions. For anyone who thinks I'm making lots of money on Sweetpotatoes....let me assure you that I am not. So I guess I am already a Non-Profit...LOL ....The upside is that I do get orders all winter so I have some cash flow to buy propane when things are tight.

Talk about me getting off topic. I just broke one of my own pet peeves... I didn't even mention the word bean in my rant.. so BEAN

there is enough in the world for eveyones need, but not enough for everyone greed...


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RE: Cross pollination of Beans

Gary,
Very well stated. And I agree with most of what you said. I agree with you that many of the SSE members in fact most are great people serving a worth while cause. But I refuse to support an organization to benefit a few especially someone already wealthy. I prefer to buy from these same great and wonderful people elsewhere whether individually or somewhere else. Just like I buy from you. I'm happy to pay what someone wants and would rather pay them a little more than to have to pay a membership to an organization in order to purchase seeds/plants that I intend to try to preserve if they do well that might support something I don't agree with. Jay


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RE: Cross pollination of Beans

I just wish someone would come up with a good alternative for seed savers to network together, without the politics. Maybe someone can come up with something similar to the online version of the SSE Yearbook. If I had the time and any knowledge what so ever in designing a website for that purpose, I would give it a try...


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RE: Cross pollination of Beans

What is the ideal isolation distance for saving pure bean seed?


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RE: Cross pollination of Beans

I am not sure what is ideal (1/4 mile?). But I feel like I'm doing pretty well with 20' for p. vulgaris varieties. Limas require LOTS more isolation, being insect pollinated. I try only to grow one lima at a time. Cowpeas seem a little less inclined to cross than p. vulgaris. But grown side by side, I've had crosses.


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RE: Cross pollination of Beans

I looked at 'Seed to Seed' to see what Linda Ashworth says about bean isolation, and for Phaseolus vulgaris she advises you read the informtion about crossing in the general section about the Leguminosae family and talk to gardeners in your area and sort of choose the distance that seems best to you. So, choose your distance. There's nothing I can tell y'all about bean crossing that y'all don't already know. I like 1/4 mile as George stated, but for some others like chick peas, she advised a half-mile and for D. lablab, a mile, then a half-mile for runner beans and a whole mile for Limas and for peanuts.

If you're growing beans with different colored seeds, remember to alternate colors in blocks so you don't have, for example, two white bean blocks growing side. As George has told us before, that's one way to make it easier to spot crossing.

Dawn


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RE: Cross pollination of Beans

Yikes. 1/4 mile. I would only be able to grow two or possibly three varieties....I'm still tinkering with growing heirloom seed to sell on my website. of course I need a decent growing season....... I don't know how Glenn grows all he does on his farm. he offers over 60 varieties of beans alone. also I wanted to grow Okra, but I think it needs at least 1/4 mile too. I can hand pollinate okra, but not the beans.

A young man gave a talk at HIS this year about his experience with growing seed for Baker's Creek. He said he did well last year, but had a total crop failure this year....DUH! they apparently have a list of things they need and the contracted price for an ounce or pound (depending on type) of seed. I guess I need to study their approach.


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RE: Cross pollination of Beans

Pardon my ignorance, but what is SSE?


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RE: Cross pollination of Beans

Gary, I imagine he has the plants in box cages made of (I'm guessing) wood framing and either window screen material or floating row cover? As many seeds as Glenn raises/saves, I cannot imagine he bags individual tomatoes or cluster of beans the way a home gardener could.

You have to promise you won't throw things at me when I tell you that, according to Suzanne Ashworth in "Seed to Seed", okra needs 1 mile isolation. You could bag the blossoms though. They self-pollinate so you wouldn't have to hand-pollinate unless you just want to be extra sure they are pollinated/fertilized.

For bagging blossoms, a lot of people buy little muslin bags from companies that sell seed-saving supplies, but you also could use knee high stockings, or the little organza bags sold wherever you see wedding supplies like at Wal-Mart or Hobby Lobby.

Judy, SSE stands for Seed Savers Exchange, an organization founded, hmmm I guess in about the early 1980s, and dedicated to saving seeds of heirloom, open-pollinated varieties of plants. If you join SSE, you have access to thousands of varieties saved by members and available via the annual listing, which used to be im book form but now is online, I think. For the listed varieties, you request the seed from the listing party and send your check to them. They also have a public catalog through which you can purchase certain seeds directly through SSE.

The SSE organization has been going through some turmoil and changes in recent years, and you might have gotten a hint of that in some of the comments above.

There also is SESE, which is Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, which actually is just a seed company and not a true exchange. They offer heirloom seeds (and plants like garlic, walking onions, potatoes, etc.) that tend to do very well in the southern USA. I'm going to link them below because they are one of my favorite seed companies, and their annual catalog is amazing. I grow many of SESE's varieties in my garden. One thing I really like about SESE is that when the company founder decided to sell it, he sold it to the employees. I like supporting smaller companies that are employee-owned.

Dawn

Here is a link that might be useful: Southern Exposure Seed Exchange


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RE: Cross pollination of Beans

Thank you Dawn for the explanation


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RE: Cross pollination of Beans

It is like I've stated before and also seen stated by some experienced growers that if myself or they followed the distances stated by Suzanne Ashworth neither them or me would save many if any seeds. In my opinion the number and type of pollinators makes a big difference. On okra basically if I have 20-30ft separation I will save seeds and so far have never had a cross. There are many factors that enter into what is sufficient distance. Knowing your garden and area are very important. I know many growers who save and sell seeds who bag blooms or use the cages. They might on certain crops and certain varieties but overall it is too time consuming and costly. And most I know don't separate by near the distances Suzanne recommends. There are other ways a person can increase the odds of a variety staying pure. One is staggered plantings. I didn't save seeds for several years because of I read Suzanne's book and felt I couldn't and shouldn't. Then after being on the forums for a while and talking to some experienced growers I decided it was safe. And so far to my knowledge I've never had a cross. I am careful about where I choose fruit to save seeds from. And another thing I've decided is if I have a cross there is a chance I will like it. In summary I feel Suzanne errs on the extreme side. In order to cover most environmental conditions even the extreme ones. But many times like in my garden I can safely save seeds when varieties are planted considerably closer. Like I said I read it and followed it and never saved seeds for a few years. Now if I decide I want to save seeds I do. Jay


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RE: Cross pollination of Beans

I haven't read Ashworth's book, though I've heard that it's very good. I have read, and can heartily recommend "Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener's & Farmer's Guide to Plant Breeding & Seed Saving" by Carol Deppe. This book includes the necessary info for saving seeds, but from the perspective of someone working with limited space and resources.

I keep forgetting that I've written some handouts on seed saving. I will gladly send copies to anyone who asks. I have them for saving your own bean seed, tomatoes, hand pollination of squash and sweet potatoes. There might be one or two more. When I get time, I'll look.

Carol Deppe does a great job of discussing alternate ways to isolate, like Jay has mentioned.

George


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RE: Cross pollination of Beans

I think Suzanne is very conservative with her isolation distances, but her book is the one I have, so its the one I check when someone mentions isolation distance. A lot of people do save seeds without that isolation distance, and one way to get around that is to plant a barrier crop, like a thick, dense stand of sunflowers, in between two different crops.

Back before Tim joined the fire department (when our free time really was free time), I saved seeds and I used bagging on tomatoes to avoid crosses. With flowers, I didn't bag, and saw quite a bit of crossing but didn't mind it too much because even crossed flowers usually look pretty good. I've never had beans cross, but haven't saved any except for ornamental Purple Hyacinth Beans, in recent years. One thing I find fascinating about the purple hyacinth beans is that the same pests that plague my garden beans just don't bother the purple hyacinth beans, and the deer don't eat those plants either. Last year I had them on the dog yard fence, and the deer never touched them, even though the dogs spent much of the long, hot summer, including every single night, inside in the air conditioned house.

Judy, You're welcome.


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RE: Cross pollination of Beans

my computer went down..So haven't been able to respond..I hate it when that happens, especially during my busy season.

Anyway about the time I posted my last comment above, the phone rang and it was a person from Missouri that I am getting a new (to me) variety of sweetpotato. we talked for a while and he told me that he had grown seed for Baker's Creek. I asked him what he grew for them and he responded "Beans".
So i was able to pick his brain and it dosn't seem to be as bad as I thought about the isolation... depending on what species. I didn't get all the details, but I know a bit more than I did before. I am planing to grow about 25 varieties of Okra, but I have already planned to hand pollinate those. I also want to do some watermelon and cantalopes but feel they will need a very long isolation distance, but I have several areas at different locations at my desposial.


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