Screening Open-Pollinated Vegetable Varieties Bred and Released In North Dakota for Suitability to Organic Production Systems and Local Markets

Final Report for FNC09-754

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2009: $17,988.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2011
Region: North Central
State: North Dakota
Project Coordinator:
Theresa Podoll
Prairie Road Organic Farm
Steve Zwinger
North Dakota State University Carrington Research Extension Center
Marvin Baker
North Star Farms
Expand All

Project Information


[Editor's Note: To see this report with photos included and charts with proper formatting, open the PDF versions of the report.]

Prairie Road Organic Farm has been certified organic since 1977. We are located in south-central North Dakota. We produce a variety of small grains and cover crops (rye, oats, millet, triticale, and buckwheat) and vegetable seeds under the name Prairie Road Organic Seed. David, Dan and Theresa Podoll began producing certified organic vegetable seed in 1997.

The family garden and a tradition of selective seedsaving, based on agronomic performance in organic conditions and superb eating qualities, are of focus of their seed production. The Podolls have released seven vegetable varieties bred on their farm. They specialize in tomato seed, squash, popcorn watermelon, and onion. Other seed crops include pumpkin, beet, carrot, leek, cucumber, muskmelon, marigold and bread poppy. The Podolls have taken part in numerous organic variety trials of grains and cover crops through the Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society’s Farm Breeding Club.

GOAL: The goal of this two-year project was to increase the number of varietal choices well suited to organic production systems and local markets in North Dakota.
Objective 1: Screen a minimum of 60 vegetable varieties for agronomic and quality traits of interest to North Dakota market growers (10 per farm per year).
Objective 2: Identify at least twelve North Dakota bred, open-pollinated varieties of vegetable crops with agronomic and quality traits of interest.
Objective 3: Facilitate seed increases of at least nine varieties based on variety trial results and farmer’s market taste tests.

A survey was conducted during the North Dakota Farmers Market & Growers Association (NDFMGA) Annual Meeting (February, 2010) to identify vegetable crops with few varietal choices suited to growers’ production and market needs. Varietal descriptions of releases from North Dakota State University (1926-1991) and varieties bred and selected for the Oscar H. Will & Co. seed catalog (1896-1969) were researched. Varieties of interest were researched and seed procured through the Germplasm Resource Information Network (GRIN) system, heirloom seed catalogs and seed saving organizations, such as Seed Saver’s Exchange, Abundant Life Seed Foundation, and Seeds of Diversity Canada. These seeds were included in variety screening trials held in 2010 and 2011.

Each farmer participant conducted vegetable variety screenings of at least twenty varieties; planting, maintaining, monitoring, and documenting performance and results using photos and variety evaluation forms. A combination of quantitative (eg. height, yield, or fruit size) and qualitative data (eg. seedling vigor, color, flavor, disease and pest resistance, and uniformity) was collected. The farmers took pictures during the growing season. Seed was saved from fourteen varieties; five varieties will undergo continued evaluation and nine varieties will continue to be grown out and selected for variety improvement and seed increase.

Bryce Farnsworth, NDSU Potato Breeding specialist, Dr. Harlene Hatterman-Valenti, NDSU High Value Crop specialist, and Dr. Larry Robertson, Vegetable Curator, USDA – ARS Plant Genetic Resources Unit, provided assistance in acquiring seed for these varieties through NDSU and the USDA Germplasm Resource Information Network (GRIN) system.

Steve Zwinger conducted vegetable variety screenings. He is the owner of Prairie Seeds, a certified organic seed operation focused on increasing and developing seed for sustainable and organic farming. He also produces vegetables, marketing at the local farmers market specializing in potatoes, beans, and corn. Steve is a research agronomist at the North Dakota State University (NDSU) Carrington Research Extension Center and has conducted numerous variety trials of grains/alternative crops.

Marvin Baker conducted vegetable variety screenings. He is an experienced horticulturist and the owner of North Star Farms, a produce operation in northwestern North Dakota, growing certified organic crops for local markets. The Bakers helped establish a hometown farmers' market and a network called North Prairie Farmers Markets that has grown from four to 10 markets in three years. Marvin Baker works closely with the Entrepreneurial Center for Horticulture at Minot State University-Bottineau as a resource for growing organic vegetables such as Roma tomatoes and green peppers.

Susan Long is the Administrative Assistant at Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society (NPSAS). NPSAS helped advertise our field days and helped organize the tour at Prairie Road Organic Farm in Fullerton and North Star Farm in Carpio, ND. In addition the project collaborators presented a workshop at the 2012 NPSAS Annual Winter Conference, entitled, “Screening Open-Pollinated Vegetable Varieties.”

Annie Carlson is the Executive Director of FARRMS. Prairie Road Organic Farm partnered with FARRMS to host a farm tour June 23, 2010. NPSAS and the North Dakota Farmers Market and Growers Association (NDFMGA) published a press release on the event.

Sue Balcom, Marketing Specialist at North Dakota Department of Agriculture, and Holly Mawby, Director of the Entrepreneurial Center for Horticulture at Dakota College at Bottineau, worked with Theresa Podoll to present information on the project and preliminary results during a “Heirloom Seeds” workshop at the Local Foods Conference, February 18 & 19, 2010 at the Doublewood Inn, Bismarck, ND.

Stacy Baldus, Administrative Assistant, Entrepreneurial Center for Horticulture Dakota College at Bottineau, published press releases on all of the garden tours and conference presentations through the NDFMGA Newsletter.

Objective 1: Screen a minimum of 60 vegetable varieties for agronomic and quality traits of interest to North Dakota market growers (10 per farm per year). [See Attachments for detailed results from individual growers.]
• Marvin Baker—screened twenty varieties in 2010-2011 [See Attachment A.]
• Theresa Podoll—screened twenty varieties in 2010-2011 [See Attachment B.]
• Steve Zwinger—screened thirty-one varieties in 2010-2011 [See Attachment C.]

Objective 2: Identify at least twelve North Dakota bred, open-pollinated varieties of vegetable crops with agronomic and quality traits of interest.

Overall, each of us discovered varieties that had traits of interest to our operations. These varieties include:
• Potatoes—Crystal, Bison, Nordak and Viking;
• Tomatoes—Cavalier, Cannonball, Sheyenne, Doublerich, Millet’s Dakota, Manitoba, and Orange King;
• Peas—Homesteader and Alaska;
• Pinky popcorn;
• Golden Gem sweet corn;
• Granite State cantaloupe;
• Copenhagen cabbage; and
• Niagara cucumber.

Objective 3: Facilitate seed increases of at least nine varieties based on variety trial results and farmer’s market taste tests.

The potato screenings do not lend themselves to this objective due to state seed laws for potatoes but NDSU has seed available of these varieties. Byrce Farnsworth expressed that he is very pleased that these varieties are being looked at and is happy to share seed tubers. So we will be encouraging farmers’ market growers to consider Crystal, Bison, Nordak and Viking potatoes for their markets. We will emphasize Nordak and Viking for Fall and Winter CSA sales, as they are EXCELLENT keepers.

Steve collected seed of the Alaska pea and Pinky popcorn. Theresa collected seed of the Homesteader pea; Hidatsa Yellow and Mandan Red beans; and Doublerich, Millet’s Dakota, and Orange King tomato varieties. Marvin collected seed of the Niagara cucumber and the Granite State cantaloupe.

The tomato varieties Cavalier, Cannonball, Sheyenne, and Manitoba are of sufficient quality that they could be increased “as is.” The tomato varieties Doublerich, Millet’s Dakota, and Orange King have traits of interest but require selection and improvement work to eliminate cracking and disease issues. All of these tomatoes would benefit from selection work under diseased conditions to increase disease resistance.

There is definite value in exploring older germplasm that was originally bred within the region. The USDA Germplasm Resources Information Network is a valuable resource for researching historic varieties and obtaining seed for research. We were able to identify varieties that have traits of interest and have historically significant stories that can be told. Regionally significant varieties with specific adaptation traits have dropped out of the seed trade. This presents a significant loss to regional gardeners and market growers and an opportunity for differentiating our farming and marketing enterprises. This may be a significant advantage for those willing to conduct variety screenings and subsequent variety trials. The disadvantage is the time and effort it takes to screen through the less desirable varieties to find the varieties that have value to your operation. Some of the varieties we sought from GRIN were either no longer available OR had not been grown out for some time. These had very poor germination or did not germinate at all.

Once you find varieties of interest, implementing sound seed production and maintaining trueness to type may be a challenge, depending on whether the crop is primarily self-pollinated or cross-pollinated. Seed saving is an art and requires some knowledge and skills. Crop specific seed saving resources are available for free download through the Organic Seed Alliance website; Susan Ashworth’s book, “Seed to Seed” is a comprehensive and valuable guide.

• Prairie Seed Farm markets at the Carrington Farmers Market and conducted consumer taste tests of the tomato, potato and sweet corn varieties that it screened in 2010-2011. (See Attachment C. for the results of the taste tests Steve conducted.)
• Prairie Road Organic Farm partnered with FARRMS to host a farm tour June 23, 2010.
NPSAS and NDFMGA published a press release on the event.
• North Star Farms did not host a farm tour in 2010 due to the limited number of varieties they screened in the first year of this project.
• Theresa Podoll presented information on the project and preliminary results during an “Heirloom Seeds” workshop at the Local Foods Conference, February 18 & 19 at the Doublewood Inn, Bismarck, ND.
• Garden tours were conducted in 2011 in cooperation with NDFMGA, FARRMs, NPSAS and the “Going Local North Dakota” program. The tours had a designated photographer. Press releases were distributed through the NDFMGA, NPSAS, FARRMs, and the North Dakota Department of Agriculture’s “Going Local North Dakota” newsletters and websites.
o Prairie Road Organic Farm held a farm tour on Thursday, August 25, 2011. The tour was attended by over 50 participants.
o North Star Farms held a farm tour on Wednesday, August 31, 2011. The tour was attended by over 35 participants.
• Project results were presented at the 2012 NPSAS Annual Winter Conference, which was attended by 40+ participants. The evaluation forms indicated a score of 4.5/5.0; Feedback: "great information; interesting; informative; fabulous."
• Variety screening results will be sent to the NOVIC project for posting on the website.
• A final project report and press release will be sent to E-Organic with links to web postings, including pictures.

Attachment A. North Star Farms, Marvin Baker March 27, 2011
Screening open-pollinated vegetables bred and released in North Dakota for suitability to organic production systems and local markets.

1.) Manitoba Tomato
This tomato was developed at the Manitoba Agriculture and Agrifood Research Center in Morden.

It is a 66-day determinant slicer and or canner. It is a bush-type tomato that will tolerate heat or cold and was not affected by overnight lows in the upper 30s as many other tomato plants were.

This tomato is slow to emerge and slow to grow, but toward the end of the season, appears to have a spurt that produces most of the fruit. In addition, the fruit takes longer than other slicers to ripen.

Most of the fruits are 4 and 5 inches, but the taste is superior.

In 2011, we grew 48 plants that yielded 142.5 pounds of fruit.

2.) Copenhagen Cabbage
Seeds were planted in May, they sprouted and the seedlings didn’t do much of anything but absorb water. Fourteen plants survived 136 degrees in the greenhouse but were stunted from the intense heat.

On Sept. 30, still immature seedlings, they were transplanted into larger pots to see if they would grow. They grew in the greenhouse until 15 December, when they appeared to go dormant because of the lack of light. On Dec. 30, there was movement once again.

These cabbage plants survived through the winter and withstood temperatures of 16 degrees twice, 18 degrees and 22 degrees. On those coldest nights, they were covered with burlap bags and appeared frozen solid the following mornings.

But sunny days in February brought them back. They sprouted new leaves and have really taken off in March and should mature by the end of April.

Thus, this 65 day cabbage has taken nearly 10 months and has gone through intense heat and killing frost to a plant and have survived.

This is an incredibly durable plant and I will continue to use it indefinitely.

3.) Arikara Squash
This is a very rare heirloom variety that is unlike a normal winter squash. The fruit is yellow, is oblong and has fewer seeds than other varieties.

In 2011, this plant demonstrated incredible vigor and the fruit grew rapidly despite being flooded several weeks after being planted. We harvested a total of 103 pounds with most of the fruits weighing 8-11 pounds.

Arikara is a very good storage squash and is said to be excellent for soup.

4.) Banquet squash
I wasn’t happy with this squash because the fruits were very inconsistent. We harvested 136 pounds with most of them being 1 pound. One of the fruits, however, weighed 38 pounds… Consumers demand more consistency in the size and shape.

It is considered an extremely rare variety as it was developed by Oscar Will in the 1930s. It is a cross between Gilmore and Buttercup. The fruit is generally orange in color with a cup at the bottom as in Buttercup.

5.) Clemson Spineless Okra
This is another variety trial I wasn’t happy with. Much like the Copenhagen cabbage, the okra stagnated after the seedlings emerged. But unlike the cabbage, many of the plants perished in the intense, summer greenhouse heat.

We grew 24 plants and harvested only three pods. Some of the other plants produced pods but they fell off the lanky plants before becoming mature. By the end of September all the plants had died.

Still, this is considered the most popular open-pollinated variety of okra. It was developed at Clemson University in 1939. I believe it is a poor variety for North Dakota, although I will be growing it again in 2012.

6.) Granite State Cantaloupe
I wanted to test this cantaloupe as it is the parent of Sweet Granite, a cantaloupe we have been growing for six years.

Fruits are generally 4 pounds, are oblong and slightly lighter in color than Sweet Granite. In fact, the color of the rind is almost gray. The flavor is actually a bit bland and the flesh is a light orange in color.

This 83-day fruit (Sweet Granite is 66 day) is mildew resistant and produced 79 pounds of fruit for North Star Farms. It is a cross between Honey Rock and Mennonite melons that were developed at Winkler, Manitoba.

If provided the seeds, I would certainly grow this cantaloupe again.

7.) Nueta – Mandan corn
James Holding Eagle, from the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, presented Nueta to Oscar Will in 1907.

It has short, frail stalks and there are usually 2 ears per plant. It is a tasty, yellow variety that didn’t grow well at all in 2011, but had full ears of the plants that did develop.

8.) Evergreen corn
Weak stalks; only 5 pounds of yield from 24 plants. Pale green in color, I’m not sure what this corn would be good for. The ears produced spotty kernels.

9.) Golden Self Blanching Celery
A total failure. Only 20 percent of the seed emerged and all died by the time they reached the 2 and 3 leaf stage. Introduced to the United States from Kenya in 1886.

10.) Niagara Cucumber
This was my shining star in 2011. Little was found on this impressive fruit that is resistant to the cucumber mosaic virus and the spotted cucumber beetle.

It is tasty but seedy and is a great producer. Of eight varieties at North Star Farms in 2011, Niagara had the fourth highest yield and followed Mideast Prolific, Sumter and Marketmore. We harvested 112.5 pounds of fruit.

The plant produces a dark green rind on 8-10 inch fruits. This is a great slicer and the only flaw I could find was that 10 percent of the fruits are curved, some as much as 90 percent.

Unfortunately, this variety isn’t commercially available. If it were, I would use it annually. I can’t pin it down, but believe Niagara was released in 1932.

11.) Improved Guernsey Parsnip
A total failure. Zero emergence in 2010 and in 2011.

12.) Additional varieties not rated in 2010 or 2011
Homesteader pea
Alaska pea
Improved Gradus pea
Klondike watermelon
Imperator carrot
Sunshine corn
Cavalier tomato
Mandan tomato

Attachment B. 2011 SARE Farmer/Rancher Grant Progress Report March 27, 2012
Screening open-pollinated vegetables bred and released in North Dakota for suitability to organic production systems and local markets.
Prairie Road Organic Farm/Theresa Podoll, Project Coordinator
Prairie Road Organic Farm is a certified organic small grain and vegetable seed farm located in South Central North Dakota. This area is known as the prairie pothole region and receives around 20 inches of precipitation annually, with approximately 135 frost-free days in the growing season. Annual precipitation on Prairie Road Organic Farm was about 125 percent above average for 2011. Temperature or heat unit accumulation was slightly above the long term normal for the area. The last frost in the spring was May 26 and the first frost in the fall was September 14. The Prairie Road Organic Farm represents the southern tier of the study area for this project.

Prairie Road Organic Farm focused on tomatoes, dry beans, and edamame soybean in 2011.

Variety Information
In 2011 Prairie Road Organic Farm trialed five tomato varieties, two pea varieties, three bean varieties, and one edamame soybean.

Table 1. Tomato varieties trialed in 2011
Variety , Year released, Skin color
Millet’s Dakota, 1913, red
Orange King, 1957, orange
Doublerich, 1954, red
Omar’s Lebanese, Unknown, pink
Fox Cherry, Unknown, red

Table 2: Peas, beans and soybeans
Variety, Year released / GRIN accession number
Homesteader peas, 1908 (seed received from Prairie Garden Seeds, SK)
Alaska pea, (PI206781) 1887
Hidatsa Red bean, (PI 351137) “Old cultivar of Hidatsa tribe, Northern Great Plains.”
Arikara Yellow bean, (PI633617) Selection from an 1880 landrace; Oscar H. Will & Co.
Hidatsa (Glycine max), (PI548341) Developer: Oscar H. Will & Co.

Methods and Results

Tomato plants were started on April 10; transplanted on May 27 into our tomato disease nursery to ascertain their resistance to Septoria Leaf Spot caused by the septoria lycopersici fungus. This fungus thrives in tomato debris and on solanaceous plants in abundant rainfall and temperatures ranging from 60 to 80 degrees F. The spores are transferred by wind and rain. The fungus overwinters well; it is not uncommon for transplants and seeds to be carriers of the disease. Our farm utilizes the disease nursery for selecting stock seed for the tomato varieties that our farm stewards, continuously selecting for disease resistance.
Transplants were spaced 1 foot apart in rows that were 3 feet wide. The first blooms on the tomatoes were noted June 13. Millet’s Dakota was the earliest and most prolific in flowering, followed closely by Doublerich. Fox Cherry and Omar’s Lebanese were the slowest in flowering and setting fruit. Septoria Leaf Spot began to show up in mid-July when the plant began to set fruit. The spots began on the bottom leaves of the plant and migrated up the plant. The first ripe tomatoes were noted on July 31 but few were harvestable, due to quality issues; we harvest a good crop of Fox Cherry and just a few nice fruits of each of the other varieties. These were selected and saved for seed. Yield data was not gathered as most plants succumbed to the disease very quickly and the fruit cracked and bore spots as well.

Table 3. Tomato rankings
[Scale: 1 (high resistance/good fruit quality); 5 (poor resistance/poor fruit quality)]

Early Blight Septoria Fruit
Variety , Resistance, Resistance, quality, Flavor
Doublerich, 5, 3, 2, 4
Millets’ Dakota, 3, 4, 4, 2
Orange King, 3, 3, 3, 2
Omar’s Lebanese, 4, 4, 3, 3
Fox Cherry, 1, 1, 1, 1

Doublerich did not exhibit the same level of disease resistance noted in 2010; this is likely due to differences in resistance among individual plants. This indicates that improvement can be made through a vigorous disease resistance selection process. Doublerich again received low marks for taste but high marks for appearance.

Alongside our usual plantings of Green Arrow, Wando, and Little Marvel, we trialed two new varieties of peas this year: Alaska and Homesteader peas. Alaska did not do well in the cool, rainy spring; it took on a decidedly yellow-green hue and did not produce well. Homesteader was entirely unaffected and surprisingly delicious. We were all in agreement that this variety is what peas SHOULD taste like.

We were very impressed with healthy foliage and plant growth of the Hidatsa Red beans. The Arikara Yellow bean showed signs of a rust disease, exhibited more insect damage, and developed chlorosis (a sign of a magnesium deficiency) late in the season. These bean varieties were growing side by side in the same row in the garden. The Hidatsa Red grew more slowly but out-performed the Arikara Yellow.

Growing Hidatsa edamame soybean has peaked our interest in this crop. After our presentation at the NPSAS Winter Conference, Jim Orf, a University of Minnesota soybean breeder, approached me and told me about edamame varieties developed through his breeding program. I will be trialing up to four varieties from Jim’s program next to Hidatsa to find the best adapted, best performing variety for our growing conditions.

The tomato varieties Doublerich and Fox Cherry are candidates for parent plant in breeding efforts focused on Septoria resistance. The varieties Millet’s Dakota and Orange King are both candidates for continued selection for improved fruit quality and disease resistance to Septoria. Given Steve Zwinger’s consumer choice results, we will conduct ongoing screenings and selection work on Cavalier and Sheyenne for Septoria and resistance.

We will grow both Hidatsa Red bean and Arikara Yellow again on a larger scale; we feel these two varieties are historically significant to our region and should be cultivated.

We will continue to experiment with edamame soybeans to find the best tasting, best performing variety to include in our production plan.

Everyone in the family agreed that Homesteader peas were by far our favorite variety. It has found a place in our garden and on our plates!

I requested the following varieties from GRIN but was unable to obtain any seed:
PI 632383 Daucus carota Gold Pak carrot
G 30512 Raphanus sativus Model Box radish
W6 21057 Phaseolus vulgaris Mandan speckled - ** bean
W6 21058 Phaseolus vulgaris Mandan black bean
PI 644967 Solanum lycopersicum Millets Dakota
I was especially disappointed about Mandan Speckled and Mandan Black beans. The curator told me that the seed they had in storage had failed to germinate and that the varieties are likely lost. This underscores the need for funding for GRIN in order to preserve these critical resources. Millets Dakota tomatoes were not available through GRIN but I was able to find some seed through a seed saver group in Canada.

The next pages are pictures taken on Prairie Road Organic Farm during the 2011 growing season. (Note: Pictures of diseased plants were taken July 31 and August 27.)

Attachment C. Prairie Seeds Farm/Steve Zwinger, cooperator March 25, 2012
Screening open-pollinated vegetables bred and released in North Dakota for suitability to organic production systems and local markets.

Prairie seeds farm is a certified organic vegetable and seed farm located in Central North Dakota. This area is known as the drift prairie region and receives around 19 inches of precipitation annually, with approximately 120 frost free days in the growing season. The Prairie Seeds Farm represents the central tier of the study area for this project. Precipitation from May-September on Prairie Seeds Farm was measured at 20.4 inches for the 2011 growing season, well above the long term normal. Temperature or heat unit accumulation was slightly below the long term normal for the area. The farm experienced a number of thunder storms throughout the growing season. The most severe storms occurred in July. These storms produced intense rainfall events that included heavy winds and hail that did damage plants. The last spring frost was on May 2, although on May 27 light frost damage was noticed on susceptible plants. The first fall frost (killing) was received at the farm on September 13 and 14. These two nights had an extended freezing period (25 F) that killed all non-hardy plants.

Crops chosen for this year’s evaluation on the Prairie Seeds Farm were potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli, peas, lettuce, Chinese cabbage, and winter squash. The source or developer of potato, tomato and broccoli varieties trialed were from the North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station (NDAES), or more commonly known as North Dakota State University (NDSU). This breeding station no longer breeds or develops varieties of tomatoes or broccoli. All seed, transplant, and tuber sources for this year’s trials for potatoes, tomatoes, two squash, and broccoli were obtained from Bryce Farnsworth, research specialist with the NDSU potato breeding project. Considering the source, it is felt that the seed lots used are true to type. Chinese cabbage, peas and lettuce were obtained from GRIN (Genetic Resource Information Network). The additional two squash varieties trialed were obtained from seed savers.

Variety Information
Potato breeding and variety development continue at the NDAES with this plant breeding department having both national and international recognition. The first released potato variety from this program, a joint release with USDA-ARS and the Ag Exp. Station of ID, was Early Gem in 1952. Since then the program has released over 30 varieties of potatoes adapted to the region. Potato varieties trialed in 2011 along with the year of release and type are listed in table 1. Of the varieties trialed, Norland is the only known variety that is commercially available. Norland is sold as Red Norland or Dark Red Norland. These varieties are currently available and are planted by both home and market gardeners, along with field scale production for commercial table stock potatoes.

Table 1. Potato varieties trialed in 2011
Variety , year released, type
Norland, 1957, red
Norchip, 1968, white
Crystal , 1980, white

All tomato varieties trialed in 2011 were developed from the NDAES. Tomato varieties were bred and released at NDAES from 1922 to 1990. During that time 26 adapted tomato varieties were released to home and market gardeners for the northern region. Table 2 lists the varieties trialed. Of the varieties trialed, Cannonball and Sheyenne are available as transplants from local nurseries in the Fargo area. Bakers Nursery, along with Neil Holland has recently reintroduced these varieties due to their proven performance and adaptability to our region. No seed or transplants are known to be commercially available of any of the varieties trialed.

Table 2. Tomato varieties trialed in 2011
Variety , year released, skin color
North Dakota Earliana, 1922, red
Farthest North, 1934, red
Allred, 1937, red
Cavalier, 1953, red
Sheyenne, 1960, red
Cannonball, 1973, red

At one time fruit and berry species such as apple, cherry, gooseberry, raspberry, and strawberry were developed at NDAES. Sweet corn and popcorn, as well as other vegetable crops such as broccoli, cabbage, and melons were also bred and developed in the 20’s and 30’s at the NDAES.

These fruit and vegetable breeding programs are no longer in existence. Today NDSU still breeds corn, although it is focused on developing corn inbreds for the hybrid corn industry. Seed sources listed as NDSU in Table 3. were also obtained from Bryce Farnsworth. Table 3 lists all other varieties and crops trialed in 2011.

Table 3. Crops/ varieties trialed in 2011

Crop, Variety , year released, source
Broccoli, Mantador, 1960, NDSU

Squash, Buttercup, 1932, NDSU
Squash, Arikara, NA, NDSU
Squash, Hidatsa, NA, Beth & Nathan Corymb
Squash, Mandan, NA, Ann Hoffert

Peas, World’sRecord, PI642174, GRIN
Peas, Alaska, PI206781, GRIN
Peas, Lincoln, NA, Agassiz Seed House
Peas, Green Arrow, NA, Irish Eyes Gardens Seeds

Lettuce , Salad Bowl, PI536762, GRIN
Lettuce , Ruby, PI538762, GRIN

Chinese cabbage, Michihili, PI30787, GRIN

Methods and Results

Potato tubers were hand planted on June 1 with a 12 inch spacing between plants and 4 feet between rows. Potato rows were from 20-60 feet depending on amount of seed available. Previous crop was a shell pea seed field. Potato rows were hilled numerous times to provide space and protection for the growing potato crop. The majority of the potatoes emerged by June 24 with differences reported in table 4. Fast emergence is felt to be an important trait for weed control as varieties that emerge faster will shade the ground sooner. Colorado potato beetles (CPB) were present from the beginning of July 5 on. The beetles/larva were removed by shaking into a pail 3 times from July 10-22 to avoid damage to plants. Overall the CPB levels were low and no visual differences were detected in tolerance with the varieties. Yields were determined at maturity to better access storage yields from a mature crop. An important trait to measure would be the varieties’ ability to produce an early harvest of the first ‘baby potatoes’. This was not done due to amount of seed available. The trial was harvested on October 2 with the total yields recorded in table 4 for each variety. B potatoes were not separated although there were very few b’s this year.

Table 4. Potato variety data and yields in 2011
Flower Seedling Tuber
Variety , Color, Emergence, Yield

Norland, purple, 6/17, 2.5
Norchip, white, 6/18, 3.1
Crystal, light purple, 6/24, 2.8

Trait notes: Seedling emergence: indicates date when 75% of plants emerged
Tuber yield: total yield per foot of row, b potatoes are included in the total yield

Tomato plants were transplanted on June 5 on ground that was a shell pea seed production field the previous year. Transplants were spaced 3 feet apart in rows that were also 3 feet wide resulting in a 3 x 3 planting pattern. 12 plants of each variety were used in this trial. The tomato plants then had tomato cages placed over each plant to support the plants and to hold the tomatoes off the ground as they develop. Due to heavy growth the cages began to fall over on 6/18, just prior to flowering. The tomato plants began to flower in mid-late June; initial flowering (50%) dates were taken (table 5). Early flowering and fruit set are important traits to achieve the first tomatoes for early sales at farmers markets, or from a cool season where it seems to take forever to ripen tomatoes. Data was gathered (table 5) to determine the date when the first tomatoes would be picked per variety. The date when each variety would have a quantity to pick are also noted. The first tomatoes were harvested on August 6 and continued until frost. Yield differences were not quantified between the varieties. Farthest North, a cherry type, had a heavy set with an abundant harvest, which was easy to pick. This variety needed to be picked regularly as it had a tendency to crack.

Table 5. Tomato variety flowering and harvest data from 2011
Variety , 50% flower, 1st red, Picking date
North Dakota Earliana, 7/2, 8/23, 8/24
Farthest North, 6/21, 7/31, 8/6
Allred, 6/23, 8/18, 8/21
Cavalier, 6/30, 8/21, 8/25
Sheyenne, 6/29, 8/17, 8/21
Cannonball, 6/27, 8/23, 8/26

Peas were planted on May 17 on ground that was planted to fresh beans the previous year. Peas were planted in rows with spacing of 2 feet. The varieties Alaska and World’s Record were selected for early maturity. These two varieties also had good early season vigor, see table 6. Lincoln is an older variety that is still available. Green Arrow is a very common planted variety and used as a check in this trial. Data gathered from this variety comparison show that Alaska was the first to flower and have pods ready to harvest (table 6). Overall Green Arrow had the greatest numbers of edible pods to harvest, while it was the latest. The seed of Alaska is smooth and round while the remaining varieties are wrinkled. All are green seed.

Variety , height 5/29, Bloom, 1st edible pods

Alaska, 4 inches, 6/15, 7/2
World’s Record, 2.5 inches, 6/14, 7/7
Lincoln, 1.5 inches, 6/28, 7/17
Green Arrow, 1 inch, 6/30, 7/18

The variety, Mantador, was developed for a cooler northern climate with a shorter growing season. This variety was also developed for the ability to be direct seeded, according to Bryce Farnsworth. Direct seeding and transplants were compared in this study. Transplants were planted on June 10, 2011. Two dates were direct seeded, May 9 and 29. Regardless of planting date or method all plantings grew very vigorously. Transplants were harvested starting on July 10, 63 days after transplanting. Date 1 was harvested on July 28, 81 days after planting, while date 2 was harvested on August 20, 84 days after planting. One unique character of this variety is the amount of side shoots that are produced after cutting the main head. Within 9-13 days after cutting the main head side shoots were harvested, again regardless of planting date. These shoots needed to be harvested every 3-4 days to maintain productivity.

Lettuce & Cabbage
The varieties Ruby and Salad Bowl were chosen from the 1958 Wills Seed catalog. These were varieties that were marketed in North Dakota during that time period and are no longer available. Both grew very good and were also very appealing to the eye, along with good tasting. Ruby is a red variety of lettuce, while Salad Bowl is green. Both varieties of lettuce were planted on May 9. Chinese cabbage was direct seeded on May 29 and June 19. Date 1 harvest was on July 20 and date 2 harvest was July 28. Both dates were ready to bolt at harvest.

Winter Squash
Squash was planted on June 10 into very warm soils, which resulted in fast emergence and growth. Hard frosts on September 13 & 14 completely killed all vines and all squash was harvested on the 14th of September.

Conclusions & future plans:
Information gathered on performance and customer preference indicated that Sheyenne, Cannonball, and Cavalier tomato are tomato varieties that need to be commercially available. Based off of choice by customers at the farmers market, Cavalier followed by Sheyenne were the varieties of choice. The potato variety Crystal has proven to be an excellent potato that is a multiple use variety with very thin white skin. Seed from this variety will be saved and distributed to others. Crystal has been said by some potato eaters to be the best tasting potato ever. Although limited seed was received of Alaska, seed was saved to continue evaluation of this variety. This is a variety Prairie Seeds plans to include in its lineup of varieties. Seed was not saved from Mantador broccoli although seed has been procured for the 2012 growing season, as this is a variety that I will look to produce seed of in the upcoming years.

Varieties saved from Prairie Seeds & plans
Varieties identified of value from this project include: Pinky popcorn, Golden Gem sweet corn, Cavalier and Sheyenne tomato, Alaska pea, Crystal potato, and Manatdor broccoli. Seed that was saved and will continue to be grown, improved, and possibly marketed through Prairie Seeds is Pinky popcorn, Alaska pea, and Crystal potato. As time allows previous crops mentioned will be grown with continual evaluation as potential varieties for seed sales and distribution.

The next pages are pictures taken on Prairie Seeds Farms throughout the 2011 growing season.


Participation Summary
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.