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Organic Farming: Early-Flowering, Winter-Hardy Hairy Vetch Released For Northern United States

Date:
April 25, 2008
Source:
US Department of Agriculture
Summary:
Agricultural geneticists have released "Purple Bounty," the first winter-hardy, early-flowering vetch for the northern United States. Until now, hairy vetch -- a cover crop and weed-suppressing mulch favored particularly by organic farmers -- had limited use north of Maryland because it copes poorly with northern winters. But Purple Bounty has survived winters as far north as upstate New York.

A new variety of hairy vetch called Purple Bounty expands the use of vetch as a winter cover crop to the entire Northeast.
Credit: Photo by Peggy Greb

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) geneticist and breeder Thomas Devine and collaborators have released "Purple Bounty," the first winter-hardy, early-flowering vetch for the northern United States.

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Until now, hairy vetch--a cover crop and weed-suppressing mulch favored particularly by organic farmers--had limited use north of Maryland because it copes poorly with northern winters. But Purple Bounty has survived winters as far north as upstate New York.

Devine, with the ARS Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., spent nine years breeding this variety. He used traditional breeding methods so that the variety would be acceptable to organic farmers. He started with several hairy vetch types from Auburn University in Auburn, Ala., and from the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System, then maintained in Georgia. There he found early-flowering types.

From these, Devine selected for improved winter hardiness while maintaining early flowering. He harvested seed from plants that survived winters at Beltsville and at the University of Maryland farm at Keedysville in northern Maryland. Purple Bounty emerged from nine cycles of selection, with the right blend of winterhardiness and early flowering.

It flowers two weeks earlier than a commonly used variety. This allows farmers to plant their main crop earlier in spring and use corn and tomato varieties that require a longer growing season.

Limited quantities of seed should be available for planting in 2008, with commercial quantities available in 2009.

Devine's collaborators on the release of Purple Bounty included the Rodale Institute near Kutztown, Penn.; the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station at Ithaca, N.Y.; and the Pennsylvania Agricultural Experiment Station at University Park.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by US Department of Agriculture. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

US Department of Agriculture. "Organic Farming: Early-Flowering, Winter-Hardy Hairy Vetch Released For Northern United States." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080420112906.htm>.
US Department of Agriculture. (2008, April 25). Organic Farming: Early-Flowering, Winter-Hardy Hairy Vetch Released For Northern United States. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080420112906.htm
US Department of Agriculture. "Organic Farming: Early-Flowering, Winter-Hardy Hairy Vetch Released For Northern United States." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080420112906.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

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