Apr 29, 2019
OFRF continues funding for plant breeding project

Development, testing, and release of resistant varieties is essential to controlling downy mildew and bacterial wilt, diseases that pose a significant and costly production challenge for organic farmers. Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) has provided a second-year research grant to Edmund Frost of Common Wealth Seed Growers to continue his assessment of downy mildew resistant cucumber seedstocks. Frost will focus on evaluating and advancing cucumber seedstock lines that performed well in his 2018 trials.

Frost has been producing certified organic vegetable seeds at Twin Oaks Seed Farm in Louisa, Virginia since 2008, and pursuing variety trials and breeding work since 2011. He leads Common Wealth Seed Growers, a cooperative effort of several Virginia seed growers to grow and sell seed varieties that perform well in the region. They aim to build the awareness and capacity necessary for improving organic seed systems in the Southeast.

Trials will take place at the University of Massachusetts, North Carolina A&T University, University of Mount Olive, and four farms across the Southeastern U.S. Trials will evaluate yields in high-downy mildew conditions, rate the impact of downy mildew on foliage, and provide feedback on fruit quality and marketability.

“Organic farmers need varieties with high nutrient-use efficiency, disease resistance, insect resistance, weed competition, and good quality,” said Brise Tencer, OFRF’s Executive Director. “In our national survey, many farmers stated the need for increased on-farm breeding and variety improvement for organic seeds. We are excited to continue funding this important work.” 

Overall, OFRF grant funding has advanced scientific knowledge and improved the practices, ecological sustainability, and economic prosperity of organic farming. These successes support their goal of researchers and farmers working collaboratively to support the improvement and widespread adoption of organic agriculture. Project results are shared freely at ofrf.org. OFRF also provides free access to all of its educational materials and resources.

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