The Brassica Field Trial which Steve Peters ran for the Organic Seed Alliance this year at Ronald Welten's seed farm outside of Gilroy was very rich in information regarding the varieties trialed. Steve chose a number of red and green summer cabbages, kales, and cauliflowers, including standard hybrids as well as both recently developed and heirloom open-pollinated (OP) varieties, to grow side by side. His goal was to measure how well the OPs stacked up next to the hybrids, and to seek and promote under-utilized varieties which might be valuable for organic market growers.
The site chosen was advantageous in that the farmer, Ronald Welten, is an experienced seed grower who appreciates the need for trialing crops. He gains valuable insights from the trial himself, and is willing to commit time and effort into tending the plots. This is the kind of cooperation upon which we depend.
There were disadvantages to the site and to the timing of the trial, as well. The soil here is not especially rich, the land is sloped, there were problems with the irrigation, and the season of planting was perhaps too late and hot, leading to a fairly severe aphid infestation. However, these "disadvantages" offer greater insights into the performance of the trialed varieties under stress, and that is how we can really see which varieties may offer valuable adaptations in the face of our changing environment. Most varieties will do well in a perfect situation. We want to learn which do best when the going gets tough!
|Aphids on Integro, June 16th.|
|Steve studies crop progress, June 16th|
While Steve is willing to do a lot of the work involved, these trials are run all around the region, and he can't personally take care of every aspect. This farm is about an hour away, which makes frequent visits costly. We continue to seek organic farmers within a 100 mile radius of our San Mateo, California home with whom to work. Anyone interested in either hosting trials or in cooperating in other aspects of growing open pollinated, organic seed in the area can contact Steve: firstname.lastname@example.org.
After the harvest at the field day on July 12th (73 days after transplanting seedlings into the field) heads were cut in half, measured, and photographed. Samples were kept for a tasting, and the remainder were krauted.
The green cabbage results were covered in an earlier post. In this post I will report on the results of the red cabbage comparisons, including field characteristics, susceptibility to aphids, yields, as well as flavor and texture. The six red cabbages trailed are presented in no particular order.
Red Summer Cabbage Trial Results
|Super Red 80 F-1|