Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A neat thing that geneticists (or breeders?) did with my pumpkins

So something was funny about the first pumpkin in my garden this year... it was yellow. I thought maybe there was cross-pollination but I've heard conflicting stories on how common this is and whether it even affects this generation or whether it actually affects the next generation. And anyway, I don't know what kind of cross-pollination would cause a yellow pumpkin. I'm used to them being green and then turning yellow.

So I did some googling and it turns out they've genetically engineered a lot of pumpkins to start yellow so that if at harvest time they haven't turned completely orange, you don't get streaks of green in your pumpkin. Streaks of yellow are a lot harder to notice and people don't mind as much.

I think gourd eccentricities are fine so I wouldn't have minded green streaks, but I thought that was pretty cool. These are planted from seeds from pumpkins we had last fall - we didn't buy them as seeds - so whatever they did isn't just an innovation for gardeners. It came in pumpkins sold in grocery stores.

I've got two butternut squashes that could probably be harvested, but I'm being patient so they're not bland from picking too early.


  1. I expect they just did that by breeding, the colours of many fruit and vegetables can be changed that way. Selective breeding of plants is very powerful. I expect your pumpkins are "Autumn Gold".

  2. That's my guess, too. Probably just doesn't express chlorophyll in the fruit.

    Zucchini is my favorite. I found that they could be put out much earlier if I sprouted the seed first. They form a long tap root so I would plant them within a few days of sprouting, which only took a few days inside. I was harvesting about a month earlier with that approach.

  3. The use of radiation and chemistry in plant breeding is the basis of most of the various colorful fruits, vegetables and flowers we see in most gardens (though genetic engineering as that term is generally understand is starting to change that mix). FYI: Most of the products of these efforts are considered "organic," illustrating just how noxiously stupid the concept is.

    1. Yes. And then there's using Colchicine to induce polyploidy. It's a good thing nobody in the environmental movement seems to know about that, they'd go nuts if they did.

    2. Though it has been around for thousands of years there have been those who consider grafting to be "unnatural" and against the "plan" of nature. Swedenborgians come to mind (so was "Johnny Appleseed"). As any orchard grower will tell you, grafting and the use of clones is the only way to make a tree orchard work (planting from seed is far too risky).

      What I always love is running across someone who thinks that organic plant products are somehow grown without insecticides, etc. When you inform them that the label organic merely means that they are grown with so-called organic insecticides (Bt being the primary one) they tend to look at you in disbelief. Agriculture is in part a war against that part of "nature" which wants to take advantage of the efforts of human beings to grow plants and animals for human consumption; the only means by which to keep at bay those efforts is via insecticides, etc. (that is if you want a cross global civilization where lots of people lead healthy, fulfilling lives).

    3. I know. Some of my family are market gardeners so I'm familiar with the wierd dividing lines.


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