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Title: Exploring North and South Carolina for Neglected Landraces of Collard

item Farnham, Mark

Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/1/2007
Publication Date: 7/1/2007
Citation: Farnham, M.W., Davis, E., Morgan, J., Smith, P. 2007. Exploring North and South Carolina for Neglected Landraces of Collard. HortScience. 42:895.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The coastal plain region of North and South Carolina is the United States center of genetic diversity for the non-heading, leafy green type of Brassica oleracea L. known as collard (B. oleracea Acephala Group). Predominantly a fall and winter crop in this region, collard is often the only green planting to be found in the yard or garden of a rural home during these cool seasons. Historically, the traditional collard patch and even commercial fields were planted with unique varieties perpetuated by individual seed savers, and collectively, the regional diversity for this crop was probably very significant for well over a century. Genetic erosion of this collar germplasm pool has been severe in recent decades as commercial hybrids have been adopted by both large-scale producers and home gardeners. Although a significant number of collard landraces are still being perpetuate, the existing diversity among landraces still grown in the region is now in the hands of an aging population of seed savers. From 2003 to 2006, we explored the coastal plain region of North and South Carolina in search of collard gardens containing traditional landraces. The exploration trips were conducted mid-winter to early spring. When a plot was found, the owner was sought out, information about the variety being grown was recorded, and when it was clear the variety was not obtained from commercial sources, seed was requested. About 90 samples of collard were obtained from seed savers during the course of this domestic exploration. Observations of morphological differences made in grow-outs of these landraces indicate that significant diversity exists in this group now being deposited into the US plant introduction collection of vegetable Brassicas. This preserved collection could prove to be an important source of genes for B. oleracea improvement.