Seeding a Culture of Innovation in Organics: Farmer-led breeding of peppers, broccoli and cucumber

This project supports three breeding projects in cooperation with the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario’s Farmer-Led Research Program. All three projects focus on providing best practices to adapt to climate change by breeding varieties that are locally adapted to low-input organic systems for southern Ontario and the US northeast and meet identified needs of organic growers in the region. By supporting farmer-led breeding efforts for organic production, this project also contributes to an emerging but critically under-researched area of vegetable farming. 

In its final year of breeding, the goal of the pepper project is to continue to stabilize lines and bulk up seed. The expected outcome is to release three varieties of early ripening, blocky and flavourful bell peppers: a mass selected population of red peppers and uniform populations of red and yellow peppers using progeny lines. 

The overall goal of the broccoli project is to breed an open pollinated broccoli that is heat tolerant and adapted to organic systems. In its second year, the expected outcome is to produce a highly variable population of F1 seed by cross pollinating a large selection of germplasm. 

The overall goal of the cucumber project is to breed an open pollinated seedless English cucumber with excellent flavour and good yield that is adapted to organic greenhouse conditions. In its second year, the expected outcome is produce F2 seed by hand self-pollinating after adapting a technique on-farm to force male flowers on otherwise female flowers.