The Guild of Oca Breeders

The Guild of Oca Breeders (GOB) is a  membership organisation seeking to further the development and adaptation of oca (Oxalis tuberosa) to areas outside its traditional homelands, starting with the UK and northern Europe.

Why set up a plant breeding club?

Plant breeding is becoming more and more a domain of large agri-business, removing it from communities and public control.

A club would help individuals organise themselves to take part in an accelerated process to get better tubers. An “open source” breeding club, keeping new cultivars in the public domain for the benefit of all, would work to protect the interests of those exploring the future of the crop whatever their background and means. We aim to make sure we keep oca in the public domain by linking to the Open Source Seed Initiative.

Optimisation of the breeding process, ensuring steady, meaningful progress and encouraging funders to support the project, will be achieved by the collaboration of amateurs and experts working in partnership with scientific institutions and other sympathetic organisations.

What is required of members?

Recurrent mass selection, the breeding method we are going to use, is an extensive process by which large numbers of genetically variable seedlings are grown together; the best of these are selected and then allowed to cross-pollinate.

The seeds they produce are grown out again and the best plants are once again selected. This cycle is continued until such time as superior varieties are developed or indefinitely as a way of continual crop improvement. It is probably the simplest of all plant breeding methods, yet it remains very effective.

Members will grow as many plants as they feel able to look after and collectively evaluate large numbers of oca seedlings. Working together will enable a much faster evaluation of the varieties and a more rapid achievement of our goal; delicious, high yielding ocas that are easy to grow.

Participants will evaluate germplasm for useful and desirable traits such as early tuberisation, flowering ability, acceptable taste and reject those plants which do not meet the standards required. They will return the best tubers to the club for another round of breeding and keep any surplus ones for their own use.