Botanist, Horticulturist, Community Scientist, Independent Plant Breeder, Researcher, Writer, Blogger. That is Owen: Dr Owen Glyn Smith.
Owen is passionate about crop development for sustainable food production, with a special interest in Andean tubers. For years, he has grown oca, producing true seed and growing them on in the an attempt to breed day neutral varieties: a process through which the potato plant itself went, before we could adopt it as a mainstay of the Western diet.
Oca is, however a tristylous, octoploid outcrosser. This means that the flowers come in three forms with different length floral structures, each of which is usually self-incompatible; it has eight sets of chromosomes rather than the usual two. The result is that inheritance is a highly complex and unpredictable process.
That’s how the idea of The Guild of Oca Breeders (GOB) was born.
There’s strength in numbers, and a very effective, simple breeding methods: recurrent mass selection, practiced by a group of passionate and committed individuals, will speed up the breeding of early maturing and day neutral varieties.
So, in this first year of our existence, we are looking for volunteer breeders to help with the project. Will you join us?