Thursday, September 1, 2016

Making My Own Carrots 6

The only surviving roots.
My ongoing project to breed my own carrot variety had a couple of unexpected twists this year. At the end of last year I saved all the roots which appeared to be grown by F1 hybrid plants. Such roots were the most interesting to me because they were the ones that could later produce diverse F2 seeds. I was most pleased with the ones that had some purple or red coloring, since I want my carrot population to be full of rich red/purple colored roots in later years. Most of the roots seemed to make it through winter, but when I warmed them up this spring to start growing, most proceeded to rot. This left me with only two large roots that had a lovely blush color (at right). Two plants is a limited genetic pool to work with, but I figured it would be fine because they were both F1s.

During the growing season, one of these potential mother plants bloomed and seeded furiously. The second potential mother plant grew luxuriantly, but decided not to bloom at all. My population has gone through a severe genetic bottleneck. One individual.

The sterile and floriferous mother plants.
Fortunately, this one plant is a F1 hybrid, so it is likely to have a relatively high amount of genetic heterozygosity. One of the parents was likely an intense red/purple, while the other was likely pale/white. White roots are generally a dominant trait over orange in carrots, but it seems the red/purple trait has a co-dominant expression pattern. The result of this is the next generation of carrots will likely have a widely diverse mix of phenotypes for me to select from, even with the genetic population having been reduced down to one individual. Next year, I plan to save many more roots to minimize the chance of this happening again.

I'll try to keep the non-blooming plant alive over this next winter. Maybe it will flower next year, maybe it won't. Either way, I won't be allowing its genetics to contaminate my main carrot breeding project. If it lives long enough and grows monstrous enough...  I might decide to initiate a new carrot breeding project. We shall see.