Open Pollinated Crops- The pathway to profit?
Due to the drought that has hit the United States this year, prices of agricultural products are inclined to increase, yet the profit by the farmer is likely to be decreased. With the prominence of high fructose corn syrup in so many foods, what is going to happen to the price of food in general?
I am not looking into that at the moment, it is basically food for thought. What I want to look into is the effect that it will have on the animals and the plants that we produce in this area. Since some vegetables are made up of 90% water, it is obvious that lack of water will lead to decreased production, but by how much? How about the corn crops that we are anxiously awaiting and in need of? Corn needs variable amounts of water depending upon which stage of growth that it is in. Here is a chart that was adapted from a University of Nebraska publication:
Day 0-10 Emergence period 0.8 Inches
Day 11-29 4 Leaf stage 1.8 Inches
Day 30-46 8 Leaf Stage 2.9 Inches
Day 47-55 12 Leaf Stage 1.8 Inches
Day 56-68 Early Tassel 3.8 Inches
Day 69-81 Silking 3.8 Inches
Day 82-88 Blister Kernel 1.9 Inches
Day 89-104 Beginning Dent 3.8 Inches
Day 105-125 Full Dent 3.8 Inches
Day 126-140 Maturity 1.4 Inches
So looking at the chart, the corn basically needs 3.8 inches every 12 days. This seems like a lot and I think that the growth numbers may be off a bit. I know that there are varieties of sweet corn that mature in 82 days, so 140 days seems very long. As I read further into the chart, it appears that this is for 113 day corn, so that seems a bit more realistic.
There are some who think that Open pollinated crops will adapt to the environment in which they were grown. This also means that some of the crops potentially become drought resistant. A proven example of this is the garlic plant. Garlic is noted for adapting to the soil in which it was grown. This will affect its hardiness, as well as its flavor. While some GMO crops are modified to select for drought tolerance, the seeds that are collected from the GMO plants are not typically viable. The same hols true with hybrid varieties of plants. They may grow a plant, but it may or may not have the traits that they were modified for.
With Open-pollinated crops, the seeds will grow plants that are just like the parent plants that they were collected from. By selecting the hardiest of the plants that grow, the grower is selecting for plants that did well under the particular conditions. This means that plants that do well in drought years will produce seeds that should be increasingly drought resistant. Likewise, plants that do well in years in which there are high winds, will typically have a strong root system. By saving seeds from these plants, the offspring should have deeper, stronger roots.
I seems to me that there is a lot of potential for open-pollinated crops. Perhaps the biggest money saver is simply the ability to save your own seeds for the following year. Not only does this make the farmer truly more independent or self-sufficient, but it also save the farmer a lot of input costs.