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Cultivating the Commons

WI-OSC Purple Carrot

Daucus carota.  

Our friend Dr. Claire Luby — plant breeder, organizer, and Executive Director of the Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI) — recently completed her PhD at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Her thesis assessed genetic variability and "freedom to operate" among U.S. carrot cultivars. In short, Claire attempted to find out whether or not there are enough carrot cultivars without intellectual property restrictions attached to them to enable open-source plant breeders to develop the resilient, delicious, nutritious carrots of the future. As part of her studies, in collaboration with UW-Madison's Dr. Irwin Goldman, one of the founders of OSSI, Claire developed eight intellectual-property-free populations of carrot germplasm and released them as OSSI-pledged varieties. Our collaborators Clint Freund and Kass McKinnon were given some of Claire's 'WI-OSC Purple' (which stands for "Wisconsin Open Source Composite") and produced these seeds for us, selecting only for flavor and more purple skin.

Clint says these carrots are "Vigorous growers with sturdy greens, multi-colored cores and purple skins."

Claire's OSSI entry for this population states the following: "The goal of breeding the Wisconsin Open Source Composite populations was to take commercially available cultivars that had freedom to operate for breeding and create diverse carrot populations based on market class and root color. These composite populations are meant to represent some of the diversity present in commercially available carrot germplasm that is available to use in breeding. The WI-OSC Purple population has purple exterior color (anthocyanin accumulation) with a variation of purple, orange, and white interiors. Roots are generally quite large in diameter with a significant taper. Tops are very vigorous. Parental material included: Cosmic Purple , Deep Purple, Dragon, Purple Haze, and Purple Sun. The roots in this population most clearly resemble the Cosmic Purple and Dragon varieties. This population has been developed for two generations under organic growing conditions."

We're very excited to be the first commercial source of this composite population, which should offer a great deal of genetic diversity for future purple carrot breeders, and is already market-ready for farmers or home gardeners. We recommend seed savers assess every plant to be saved for seed for root color, plant vigor, and taste (carrot roots can be sampled from before replanting for seed production)

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