Author Topic: Breeding Project: Improved Spaghetti Squash  (Read 751 times)

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Offline Troppo

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Breeding Project: Improved Spaghetti Squash
« on: March 31, 2017, 11:00:28 AM »
So I've been lurking around this forum for awhile now and have started to undertake a few breeding projects and figured I may as well start a thread. Mainly aiming to improve or increase the environmental adaption of certain varieties. One of my projects is improving spaghetti squash. It seems to me that good ol' spag squash has a bit of a cult following attributed by its unique flesh characteristics, although there are others that don't seem to care for it. Myself personally I  quite like it but it'll never replace a good ravioli or tortellini. Whilst I enjoy it, I believe there is room for improvement by increasing its flesh colour (nutritional value) and imparting some form of PM tolerance, possibly also making it look more attractive to. So a breeding project started.

The details are pretty simple. I searched the net for a nice orange fleshed C.pepo variety to use and settled on Winter Luxury (a nice pie pumpkin). Over spring I planted a couple of SS plants and also a WL plant to act as my male pollinator. Due to the excessive heat wave over xmas all bar one of my cross pollination's failed to take. Middle of Feb I harvested that one fruit and kept the seed. Although late in the season, we get warm weather up till roughly ANZAC day so I planted out some F1 seeds. Out of 20 seeds, after the first week I selected the 10 quickest germinating and after the second week I selected the 4 most vigorous growing plants. Currently with the milder conditions the plants are flowering like crazy and I currently have 7 F1 fruit (all selfed) all in varying stages of maturity which should provide me with enough seed to do some F2 selections next spring.

One thing I have noted about this F1 is the change in the foliage of the plants. Whilst regular SS has plan leaves this cross has mottled patterns on the older leaves whilst the newer leaves are silver (note that I have checked and its definitely not disease). Also regular SS has plain skinned fruit with no pattern whereas these F1's have mottled patterns and are currently bigger than SS gets. I really can't wait  to see what colour/pattern they ripen into. Here's hoping they still have the spaghetti flesh characteristic with the orange WL flesh.
Cold winters, Hot summers - Goondiwindi, QLD - Backyard/Amateur Breeder

Current Breeding Projects:
Red sweet corn... Heat tolerant tomato... Purple snow peas... Improved spaghetti squash

Offline Raymondo

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Re: Breeding Project: Improved Spaghetti Squash
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2017, 04:16:49 PM »
Can't remember what the leaf of WLP is like but that F1 looks interesting. Not a fan of spaghetti squash but an interesting project. My only work with cucurbits at the moment is a type of land race idea for butternuts. Trying to decide whether to add other C. moschata cultivars to the mix for more diversity but it's early days.
Good luck with it Troppo. Keep us posted every now and then.
Ray, gardening on an old flood plain with clay loam from 30 to 60 cm deep over clay.

Offline Templeton

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Re: Breeding Project: Improved Spaghetti Squash
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2017, 10:28:13 AM »
how exciting! It's always gratifying to see some changes turn up in the F1s - confirming that your cross took. Well done. Mind you, i wouldn't be expecting too much in the F2s ... it might be a long - but interesting - journey. ??++
T

Offline Troppo

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Re: Breeding Project: Improved Spaghetti Squash
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2017, 11:28:55 AM »
Went out into the patch this morning and all my pollination's have taken and are growing nicely. We had 60mm of rain in one afternoon (bit of the cyclone that come down from up north) and I was worried they may drop off.

My biggest one is getting some decent size and the patterning is getting more pronounced. I'm hoping the F2s & 3s have some variability in size as a smaller sized (single serve) is something I'd like to select for. Anyway see the extra pics as a comparison between regular SS and my F1 skin colour.
Cold winters, Hot summers - Goondiwindi, QLD - Backyard/Amateur Breeder

Current Breeding Projects:
Red sweet corn... Heat tolerant tomato... Purple snow peas... Improved spaghetti squash

Offline Troppo

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Re: Breeding Project: Improved Spaghetti Squash
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2017, 08:42:04 AM »
Some announcements, yesterday I welcomed the arrival of my firstborn.. my first F1 spag squash. Born at 5.38pm, weighing in at 3.1kg (6lb 13oz) and with a length of 26cm. A brilliant orange colour with a slight roughness similar to Winter Luxury Squash (male pollinator). This fella will sit for a week before I cut him open to check for flesh colour. In that time I should be harvesting 2 more of my babies, about half the size of this one.
Cold winters, Hot summers - Goondiwindi, QLD - Backyard/Amateur Breeder

Current Breeding Projects:
Red sweet corn... Heat tolerant tomato... Purple snow peas... Improved spaghetti squash

Offline pinefamily

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Re: Breeding Project: Improved Spaghetti Squash
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2017, 04:09:36 PM »
Well done, Troppo. Look forward to further photos.
Me, I'm not at the breeding stage by any stretch; just happy to harvest from our garden.

Offline Templeton

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Re: Breeding Project: Improved Spaghetti Squash
« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2017, 08:04:28 AM »
good luck, Trop, keep us posted.
T

Offline Troppo

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Re: Breeding Project: Improved Spaghetti Squash
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2017, 12:43:34 PM »
So we have finally started getting cold nights and cool days (very cold south-westerly winds) and the spag squash vines are almost all dried off. Decided to harvest the rest of the F1 fruit. Whilst not as big as the first they are still pretty decent. All up I have harvested 5 F1 fruit from 3 vines with 2 other fruit succumbing to dry conditions whilst I was away over Easter. The smallest 2 are about the size that I'd like to select for in the F2 stage. They are now sitting in my garden/storage room under the house to ripen up a bit more before I cook them and keep the F2 seed for evaluation next season. Hopefully I can get another 2 seasons/generations next spring and summer.

Update: I cracked open the large first fruit a few days ago and discovered it doesn't have the orange flesh (from its Father) that I was after but it had kept the spag flesh trait (from its Mother), but that was expected as it is only an F1 at this stage and the F2 stage is when the magic happens. Will be selecting for orange spag flesh and smaller/single-2 person sized fruit next generation.
Cold winters, Hot summers - Goondiwindi, QLD - Backyard/Amateur Breeder

Current Breeding Projects:
Red sweet corn... Heat tolerant tomato... Purple snow peas... Improved spaghetti squash

Offline Templeton

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Re: Breeding Project: Improved Spaghetti Squash
« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2017, 09:43:10 PM »
nice size trop.

Offline Troppo

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Re: Breeding Project: Improved Spaghetti Squash
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2017, 09:02:42 AM »
nice size trop.

The weights from right to left: 1.2kg 1.3kg, 1.5kg and 2.4 kg
Cold winters, Hot summers - Goondiwindi, QLD - Backyard/Amateur Breeder

Current Breeding Projects:
Red sweet corn... Heat tolerant tomato... Purple snow peas... Improved spaghetti squash

Offline Troppo

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Re: Breeding Project: Improved Spaghetti Squash
« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2017, 11:50:53 AM »
Update Late Winter/Spring 2017:

I realise that I haven't updated this for awhile so a brief outline for the coming season is in order.

I have planted out 45 F2 seeds of my (SPAG x WINTER-LUX) cross into small pots as the nights are still just a tad nippy to field plant. I'm aiming to select the best 22 seedlings selecting for early germination and good vigor and I'll plant these selections out to evaluate them throughout the season. My aim, to speed up the breeding process is to hand pollinate only 1-2 fruits per selection then trim the vines to force the plant to mature. These fruits will then be evaluated for flesh colour whilst retaining the spaghetti trait. I realise this will inhibit being able to select for productivity in the early F2 & F3 stages however in the F4 & F5 stages I will select for this.

Also, I ate my last F1 squash from April that has been in storage and it was delicious. Certainly better tasting than the original generic spaghetti squash variety. Cant wait for the F2's to fruit!
Cold winters, Hot summers - Goondiwindi, QLD - Backyard/Amateur Breeder

Current Breeding Projects:
Red sweet corn... Heat tolerant tomato... Purple snow peas... Improved spaghetti squash

Offline Templeton

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Re: Breeding Project: Improved Spaghetti Squash
« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2017, 05:58:12 PM »
very exciting. Looking forward to progress reports.
T

Offline Troppo

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Re: Breeding Project: Improved Spaghetti Squash
« Reply #12 on: September 04, 2017, 02:40:49 PM »
So my seedlings have been growing well despite the cold nights (lucky we are getting nice warm and sunny days). I thinned my 45 plants down to the strongest/most vigorous 22 seedlings and have planted them out in hills, 2 plants per hill and have been keeping them covered during the nights in case of late frosts. Pics to follow.

On a side note, I'm worried about the potential size that may be generated by this cross. Regular spag squash can get up to 3-5lb (1.4-2.3kg) and the male parent Winter Luxury can get up to 6.5lb (3kg) in weight. I've been thinking that whilst I can select for orange flesh, I may not be able to select for something in the 1.5-2lb (700g-1kg) size range. This has led me down the path of potentially crossing an F3 orange flesh selection (selected this season from the F2s) with the variety Delicata in a late F3 growout nursery in late summer. This will hopefully allow the orange fleshed genes to remain whilst imparting smaller size....
Cold winters, Hot summers - Goondiwindi, QLD - Backyard/Amateur Breeder

Current Breeding Projects:
Red sweet corn... Heat tolerant tomato... Purple snow peas... Improved spaghetti squash

Offline Templeton

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Re: Breeding Project: Improved Spaghetti Squash
« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2017, 06:33:42 AM »
Hi trop, dont select too soon. I know the temptation is to select early, but there is still lots of variation to come. Small size might just turn up.  Interested in how this project unfurls.
T

Offline Raymondo

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Re: Breeding Project: Improved Spaghetti Squash
« Reply #14 on: September 11, 2017, 06:59:59 AM »
Getting a well-flavoured, orange-fleshed spagh squash will be an achievement, regardless of size. You're well under way it seems.
Ray, gardening on an old flood plain with clay loam from 30 to 60 cm deep over clay.

Offline Troppo

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Re: Breeding Project: Improved Spaghetti Squash
« Reply #15 on: September 12, 2017, 09:08:05 AM »
Hi Temp & Ray,

My main selection this season will be to hopefully find at least one spag squash with orange flesh and that has good flavour. This will then give me a good parental line to select within for size/shape/colour in future generations. I am pretty space limited so I want to select for flesh colour and flavour as quickly as possible to limit growing undesirables in future generations. Thanks for taking an interest, gives me encouragement to keep pursuing this project.
Cold winters, Hot summers - Goondiwindi, QLD - Backyard/Amateur Breeder

Current Breeding Projects:
Red sweet corn... Heat tolerant tomato... Purple snow peas... Improved spaghetti squash

Offline Troppo

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Re: Breeding Project: Improved Spaghetti Squash
« Reply #16 on: October 16, 2017, 05:15:49 PM »
so another quick update. most of my 22 F2 plants have commenced flowering, so far I have selfed 10 plants and the fruit appear to be holding  :42: I am getting a good mix of round and elongated fruit. My biggest challenge is keeping the dogs from knocking the vines around to much. I cant wait to see the mature fruit.
Cold winters, Hot summers - Goondiwindi, QLD - Backyard/Amateur Breeder

Current Breeding Projects:
Red sweet corn... Heat tolerant tomato... Purple snow peas... Improved spaghetti squash

Offline Shmack_1

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Re: Breeding Project: Improved Spaghetti Squash
« Reply #17 on: October 24, 2017, 09:16:16 PM »
Hey troppo looking good,
I have a few seeds spare of Carol Deppes "candy stick dessert delicata" that I'm growing out this year if you want a delicata to cross, she rates it as the best tasting delicata in existence, I'm yet to taste one..
28' latitude, heavy basalt soil, hot summers, frosty winters, nestled in a narrow valley on the great divide range...

Offline Troppo

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Re: Breeding Project: Improved Spaghetti Squash
« Reply #18 on: October 24, 2017, 09:30:41 PM »
Hey troppo looking good,
I have a few seeds spare of Carol Deppes "candy stick dessert delicata" that I'm growing out this year if you want a delicata to cross, she rates it as the best tasting delicata in existence, I'm yet to taste one..

Hey Shmack_1, I’d definitely be keen for a few seeds at the end of the season. I have noticed Lambley nursery has Delicata JS (apparently a Johnny Seeds strain that doesn’t have any bitterness). Could be interesting to compare the two different types. I’ve heard Carol Deppes has rated pretty highly. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts when you get to taste a couple.

An update on the breeding project. I am now up to 13 selfed F2 plants and hope to get a few more in the coming weeks. Currently the F2s are throwing every shape, round, oblong and oval. Currently seeing differences in skin patterns as well. Pics to come in next few days.
Cold winters, Hot summers - Goondiwindi, QLD - Backyard/Amateur Breeder

Current Breeding Projects:
Red sweet corn... Heat tolerant tomato... Purple snow peas... Improved spaghetti squash

Offline Troppo

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Re: Breeding Project: Improved Spaghetti Squash
« Reply #19 on: October 26, 2017, 01:39:27 PM »
Here are some of the selfed F2 plants. Showing variability in shape and skin patterning. Cant wait till they mature and I can search for an orange-fleshed one. I'm now up to 16 selfed F2 plants.
Cold winters, Hot summers - Goondiwindi, QLD - Backyard/Amateur Breeder

Current Breeding Projects:
Red sweet corn... Heat tolerant tomato... Purple snow peas... Improved spaghetti squash

Offline Troppo

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Re: Breeding Project: Improved Spaghetti Squash
« Reply #20 on: November 16, 2017, 01:49:25 PM »
So have finally harvested the early flowering F2's. Have ended up with 6 early-maturity fruits all selfed. Interesting difference in size, shape and skin colour/pattern, although I'm pretty sure the smallest one was influenced by environmental factors (having to compete with a more vigorous plant). The fruit on the far left was by far the earliest to flower and have the deepest orange skin. These will sit for a week under my house to cure and then i'll cut them open to determine if any have orange spaghetti-flesh. If i find more than one (hopefully optimistic) i'll be able to do a taste test! There is still roughly 5 mid-maturity fruits and 5 late-maturity fruits still to harvest.
Cold winters, Hot summers - Goondiwindi, QLD - Backyard/Amateur Breeder

Current Breeding Projects:
Red sweet corn... Heat tolerant tomato... Purple snow peas... Improved spaghetti squash

Offline Templeton

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Re: Breeding Project: Improved Spaghetti Squash
« Reply #21 on: November 19, 2017, 05:37:45 PM »
good work, trop.  ??++
T

Offline Raymondo

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Re: Breeding Project: Improved Spaghetti Squash
« Reply #22 on: November 20, 2017, 07:42:17 AM »
Looking good troppo. Are things moving in the direction you want?
Ray, gardening on an old flood plain with clay loam from 30 to 60 cm deep over clay.

Offline Troppo

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Re: Breeding Project: Improved Spaghetti Squash
« Reply #23 on: November 20, 2017, 09:43:46 AM »
Looking good troppo. Are things moving in the direction you want?

Hi Ray, I would say things are moving (slowly) in roughly the direction that I want. I've already noted F2 plants with greater vigor and PM tolerance over the original 'vegetable spaghetti' variety and the fruit also look more appealing (more eye catching) with their skin colours and patterns. I'm not to worried about fruit size at this stage as it can be controlled through increasing plant densities. Hopefully I find that orange fleshed one I'm after. If not I may have to pick the best F2/3 plant and backcross to Winter Luxury. If only C.pepo varieties had that deep orange colour that C.moschata have. Maybe I could try an interspecies cross?

One of the mid season fruits that I have yet to photograph and harvest is kinda shaped like a butternut, kind of bell/pear shaped like it has been squeezed in the middle.
Cold winters, Hot summers - Goondiwindi, QLD - Backyard/Amateur Breeder

Current Breeding Projects:
Red sweet corn... Heat tolerant tomato... Purple snow peas... Improved spaghetti squash

Offline Troppo

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Re: Breeding Project: Improved Spaghetti Squash
« Reply #24 on: November 24, 2017, 10:59:38 AM »
So I decided to cut a few of the more ripe ones open. Ended up with one cream, one white and one orange flesh!  :42: I was pretty happy to find an orange fleshed one. Cooked up a few pieces of each and that's when my happiness turned to disappointment... the orange fleshed one doesn't have spaghetti flesh... more like a stringy mushy pumpkin than the spaghetti flesh I was after  ^^11^^ The middle one though, whilst not orange fleshed has nice size and was from a nice vigorous plant and have great flavour. The large oblong orange one on the right had ok flavour but didnt have the tough skin so I dont think it would be good for storage/longevity.

I still have 8 that will need to be harvested and another 4 that will finish curing soon, so i remain hopeful that there is still that illusive orange fleshed spaghetti squash somewhere in the remaining F2s.

If not, I'll have to decide what to do. I have a couple of scenarios:

1. Cross these first 2 squash together (middle yellow with the round orange) as they both have the traits I'm after.
     or;
2. Backcross the yellow one to Winter Luxury and Backcross the round orange to the original Spaghetti
Cold winters, Hot summers - Goondiwindi, QLD - Backyard/Amateur Breeder

Current Breeding Projects:
Red sweet corn... Heat tolerant tomato... Purple snow peas... Improved spaghetti squash