Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Graft to the 'ting

Peace. Grafting is taking something out of its natural state. Domestication is a form of grafting. Read the two articles below. And people constantly ask me about the grafting of the pig or of 'mankind'. Sigh. Read up folks.

Orange Cauliflower Developed at Cornell's Experiment Station is High in Vitamin A
by John Zakour and Linda McCandless

For more information, contact:
Linda McCandless, , 607-254-5137

Suggested caption: Rick Pedersen grew orange cauliflower on the Pedersen Farm in Seneca Castle, NY, last fall. Consumer interest was good, he said. People like the color and the flavor.

GENEVA, NY: Cornell University crucifer breeder Michael Dickson has transformed cauliflower from broccoli's pale cousin into a new orange variety that started appearing in supermarkets and farmers' markets last fall, and is available in garden catalogs this spring.

"White cauliflower lacks the dark green pigments that give broccoli the nutritional advantage that health-conscious people are interested in," says Dickson, who led the bean and crucifer breeding programs at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, NY, from 1964 to 1995, and is now a professor emeritus. "This is an alternative. I'm delighted to hear that it is finally going on the market."

The florets of the new cauliflower look like those of its white cousin, but are orange. More importantly, the vitamin content of orange cauliflower is higher because it contains 320 micrograms of beta-carotene per 100 grams, or approximately 25 times more vitamin A than white cauliflower.

It has been a 30-year journey from the farm to the fork for the orange cauliflower, which was first found in the Bradford Marsh in Canada in 1970. The mutant was smaller and less tasty than a white cauliflower, but the orange color was alluring. An extension agent sent it to the University of British Columbia for tissue culture, and, from there, to the National Vegetable Research Center in England. Researchers who were familiar with Dickson's work forwarded it to him in 1981.

Using conventional breeding techniques, Dickson crossbred the orange cauliflower and selected successive generations until he had a larger, more market friendly variety. The trick was crossing the orange cauliflower with the right white cauliflower. "If we used one that was too white, the end result was too pale," says Dickson.

It took eight years for Dickson to develop the right germplasm. While he was working on the horticultural aspects, food chemists at the Experiment Station were evaluating the nutritional value of the new vegetable. In 1988, food scientist Cy Lee published his findings: orange cauliflower had 54 retinol equivalents (RE) per 100 grams of vitamin A. As a comparison, green peas are at 64 RE, lima beans are 30 RE, sweet corn is 28 RE, and cabbage is 13 RE.

Further Development by Seed Companies
Dickson released the germplasm to seed companies in 1989. Companies such as Stokes worked to further improve the germplasm, and released it as a numbered variety to commercial growers like Rick and Laura Pedersen of Pedersen Farms in Seneca Castle, NY. They grew the orange cauliflower last summer and sold it to Wegmans. "It has a narrow harvest window, but it was fairly well received," says Rick. He plans to plant three acres of the colorful vegetable this July, and will harvest it from September to November.

The vegetable is available to commercial growers and home gardeners. Johnny's Selected Seeds markets an orange cauliflower called "Citrus," and is limiting orders to 5000 seeds for 2004. "I sell most of it to producers in NY, NY and Long Island who grow it for upscale restaurants and farmers' markets," said seed representative Di Cody, at the Empire Fruit & Vegetable Expo in February. "Growers like the color it brings to fall harvest markets because it looks good with pumpkins. Restaurateurs like the color and interest it brings to vegetable trays." Seminis expects to have their variety named and ready for commercial sales by mid-summer.

How much is the kitty in the window? $22,000
Forget about Labradoodles, Puggles and Schnoodles. Costly crossbreed felines are the latest designer hybrid to hit the catwalk
from Jessica Dickler, staff writer

NEW YORK - Goodbye Goldendoodle. Designer dogs are so last season. Now animal lovers are clamoring for cat crossbreeds - and they are sparing no expense on the latest "it" pet.

Hybrid house pets were originally developed to create well-behaved companions that don't shed. But with unmatched cuteness and likeability, crossbreeds like Puggles, Labradoodles, Yorkipoos, and Schnoodles drove demand among the dog-loving set.

Now mixed-breed cats, with their beauty and stature, are causing a craze for those with a fondness for felines.

And for some, no price is too high for a designer kitten.

"For our customers, money is no object," said breeder Simon Brodie.

Brodie used a "secret recipe" to mix an African serval and Asian leopard cat with a domestic cat, to create the world's most expensive feline hybrid.

The Ashera, an exclusive product of Brodie's firm, Lifestyle Pets, resembles a little leopard and can weigh up to 30 pounds. But it's more suited for lounging than stalking prey.

"They are very friendly, very affectionate," Brodie said.

Although an Ashera costs $22,000 (plus $6,000 for the premium placement option, which will expedite kitten delivery by about six months) Lifestyle Pets has already sold several cats to customers around the world since the pricey pet was unveiled last May.

Once an order is placed, the Ashera is hand delivered (the cost of delivery is approximately $1,500 within the United States) by a representative who remains on hand for a few days to answer questions and facilitate the transition. Asheras come fully vaccinated with a microchip identifier, a supply of kitty food and cat toys, access to an animal behaviorist, and a year of veterinary insurance included.

There's even a certificate of authenticity that includes an image of each kitten's DNA "fingerprint." But what else would one expect for a cat that costs as much as a car?

Brodie says that his company will keep the supply small, developing less than 50 cats each year to uphold its unique appeal - and high price.

Although the Ashera may be the most expensive mixed-breed offering to hit the market recently, it's certainly not the only one.

Other popular hybrids include the Bengal (part Asian leopard mixed with a house cat), Savannah (part African serval, part house cat) and Chausie (part jungle cat, part house cat).

Holly Hummel, who has been breeding hybrids for 20 years, says demand for exotic blends is growing, and the pricier the pet, the more sought after it seems.

"The more expensive ones move faster than the less expensive ones," Hummel said.

Even though her top-of-the-line Habari-breed cats range in price from $10,000 to $12,000, "most of our kittens are spoken for by about two weeks of age," she said.

But does coughing up that kind of dough guarantee a perfect pet?

With any designer hybrid, "there are things to watch out for, as far as genetic defaults go," cautioned a spokeswoman from the International Cat Association.

But, generally, emerging exotic breeds are well monitored, she said. "We're very careful that there is no genetic downside."

That means pet owners can rest assured that their investment in a designer cat will not disappoint - that is until the next hot mix hits the horizon.

1 comment:

Edward Ott said...

orange califlower sounds cool.