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Vegetable Gardening: What does "landrace" mean

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Forum: Vegetable GardeningReplies: 5, Views: 70
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1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

August 1, 2012
12:37 AM

Post #9225639

Im in a FB group dedicated to peppers and somebody brought up "landrace" but the only thing we can agree upon is that we cant agree on a definition. LOL Ive googled it but there seems to be a lot of contradictions. Id love some help.

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

August 1, 2012
6:39 AM

Post #9225779

MSWord's dictionary says landrace means:

[quote]a northern European hog belonging to a white lean long-bodied breed developed in Denmark[/quote]

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

August 1, 2012
6:42 AM

Post #9225783

World dictionary says landrace is:

1. chiefly ( Brit ) a white very long-bodied lop-eared breed of pork pig
2. a breed of Finnish sheep known for multiple births
3. botany an ancient or primitive cultivated variety of a crop plant
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

August 1, 2012
8:18 AM

Post #9225873

Thanks. Wikipedia says something else. If you google "Landrace" seeds or plants it narrows down the such but I still get different answers. Kind of like "Heirloom". Ive seen "Tess's Landrace" tomato seeds.

NicoleC

NicoleC
Madison, AL
(Zone 7b)

August 1, 2012
5:32 PM

Post #9226419

In a nutshell, think "micro heritage variety." The term landrace is most commonly used with corn and refers to sheltered locations where the seed has been saved without outside genetic input for generations. This does two things: one, the strain is optimal for performance in that one spot, and two, some gene expressions may have been saved in the strain that are not commonly seed elsewhere -- or sometimes, at all. The same concept applies to any variety, but in order to be considered a landrace, the variety is usually very, very old and very, very rare -- and generally contains a *lot* of genetic material because they haven't been formally bred for something.

The greatest importance of landraces is that they preserve genetic heritage that might otherwise be lost due. Modern varieties, for example, are often bred in such a concentrated and deliberate fashion that much genetic material is lost in order to establish one characteristic very strongly, be it color or disease resistance or some other gene expression.

Someone can name a variety with "Landrace" in the name, but that doesn't mean it is one. Even if it is, a landrace variety may not perform very well in your spot at all -- but may have a characteristic that is very useful to you to breed into your seed stock, or simply to use to introduce a shotgun smattering of new genes to see what you get.

Google "landrace corn" and "landrace potato" if you want to read about particular landraces; you'll have more luck.

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

August 2, 2012
3:53 PM

Post #9227457

Nicole,

I think you are right.


>> locations where the seed has been saved without outside genetic input for generations.
>> the strain is optimal for performance in that one spot
>> very, very old
>> generally contains a *lot* of genetic material because they haven't been formally bred for something.

I think a key connotation is that they grew and were selected over many generations in one spot, with some hint of "traditional" methods or even "pre-historic" methods.

So they are specialized, but not through inbreeding or deliberatly weeding anything OUT. More like selecting IN or conserving gene combinations and population %s that maximise long-term survivability in one region.

More of a "population mixture" than one "variety". It really is an exercise in population genetics and long-term selection, rather than hacxking one productive variety that might all die one year if adverse condions occured.

I learned about them from Joseph over in Cubits, Ella's Garden. He is very big on acquiring a maximum variety of genetic sources, and letting them cross-breed and be selected by his local climate, soil and pests. I think he lives in Montana: very cold winters, short growing season, and something like wind and drought.

He found that heterogeneous mixes of varieties "settle down" or "select out" amazingly fast in a hostile environment. They do it all by themsleves, merely by the survivors producing seed and the others disapearing.

Still, he knows that an ethnobotanist wouldn't call his (locally adapted) strains "landraces" unless he and hundreds of neighbors kept up his practices for hundreds or thousands of years.

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