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Re: [pfaf] Seeking variations of alder for breeding alder as a grain crop.

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  • Michael Bell
    ossi Wonderful. Thank you for giving me something to answer those who say but can people eat it ? In Britain the cones start opening in October with a gap
    Message 1 of 13 , Aug 13, 2009
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      ossi

      Wonderful. Thank you for giving me something to answer those who say
      "but can people eat it"?

      In Britain the cones start opening in October with a gap opening
      around the middle and those seeds fall out then, and gaps open towards
      the ends over the winter, so seed-fall is spread over the winter.
      Rather different to your alders.

      A glutinosa is native to Britain, A incana was brought here in the
      1780s and has become wild. A cordata is much planted in parks and
      along road sides, it is a very recent import and is probably not hardy
      on the uplands.

      I have looked "Ossi Kakko" on the web, and there is lot of interesting
      stuff, I don't read Finnish, though I have tried to learn a little,
      Google translates it for you.

      Best wishes

      Michael Bell



      In message <55946.84.248.237.202.1249538128.squirrel@...>
      "Ossi Kakko" <ossi@...> wrote:

      > Greetings from fennoscandia,

      > we have both a. incana and a. glutinosa as native.

      > occasionally i gather alnus seeds to eat by spreading
      > blankets under the tree (on snow) and by rocking the trunk
      > on a day which is not too windy, so the loss of seeds is minimal.

      > suitable timing here comes usually in february-march,
      > when the seeds drop naturally as cones open up. then seeds can
      > be ground with stones with or without roasting, in soups or
      > in bread or as a spread.... anyway one can prefer.

      > i would say there's already quite sufficient yield from
      > a single tree, so breeding sounds pretty weird,
      > but will anyway have a look next season
      > in case i see what you search for.

      > ossi kakko





      >> (This is a little changed from my earlier posting. "All things change"
      >> - Buddha)
      >>
      >> 10 Cambridge Avenue
      >> Forest Hall
      >> Newcastle -upon - Tyne
      >> NE12 8AR
      >> michael@...
      >> 0191 266 6435
      >>
      >>
      >> I have embarked on a project to develop Alder (Alnus) as a grain crop.
      >>
      >> In my meaning of the word, a "grain" is a hard dry food-thing with
      >> good keeping qualities, no matter what the exact botanical
      >> description.
      >>
      >> If you look at some Alder trees and imagine that each cone was
      >> replaced by an ear of wheat of the same size, you can see it would be
      >> a good crop. Alders fix nitrogen, they do not need to be resown every
      >> year, they do not cast a heavy shade, grass grows beneath them, and
      >> animals could be pastured on the land. My original aim was to make
      >> profitable use of the uplands of Britain, and Britain cannot feed
      >> itself, but I see now that it could also be grown on lower land and
      >> elsewhere in the world.
      >>
      >> So, I am looking for trees, cuttings or seeds, which have the traits I
      >> want.
      >>
      >> I am undecided between Alnus incana and A. glutinosa. Alnus incana
      >> grows higher and further north than A. glutinosa, and it is less
      >> dependent on water than A. glutinosa, but A. glutinosa is more
      >> plentiful. But the two species hybridise so I am interested in both.
      >>
      >> I foresee that the trees will be grown in rows to form a hedge. The
      >> cones will be pulled off using a mechanical comb and threshed in
      >> something like a combine harvester. The cones can easily be pulled off
      >> many varieties.
      >>
      >> By timing harvesting correctly it will probably be possible to pull
      >> off the cones without losing seeds and then break them open in the
      >> harvester.
      >>
      >> That said, I want the finished breed to have cones which don't open on
      >> the tree, are strong enough not break when pulled off the tree, but
      >> are easy to break open in the harvester. Any steps toward that will be
      >> welcome.
      >>
      >> Some alder trees carry no cones (!), others carry huge numbers of
      >> catkins and very few cones: the opposite of what I want. Walking many
      >> miles and looking at the alders as I passed I have found a few trees
      >> which carry vast numbers of cones on special cone-only branches,
      >> unlike "normal" alders where the cones are carried on the
      >> leaf-carrying branches. I would attach photos if the list allowed it,
      >> but I can send pictures off-list to anybody who asks.
      >>
      >> It is too early in the season to tell, but the seeds in these cones
      >> will probably be the usual wretchedly small size. I want bigger.
      >>
      >> It was easy to walk past lots of trees and from many yards away see
      >> how many cones they were carrying. I can see no such easy way of
      >> searching for bigger seeds, and this is where I am asking for help.
      >>
      >> How can you search for bigger seeds?
      >>
      >> One possibility is that if a single seed is bigger, the regular
      >> pattern of scales will be broken by a bigger seed inside. Is this a
      >> workable search method?
      >>
      >> Another possibility is to sift the seeds after they have been got out
      >> of the cones. How easy is it going to be do this by looking for
      >> big-uns by spreading the seeds out on white paper? I have built a
      >> seed-sifter which uses an air current from a computer cooling fan to
      >> sort seeds by size/weight ratio. It shows promise. Have you got some
      >> seeds which I could sort through? I can come and do it, I can bring
      >> the sifter in my car.
      >>
      >> Are there any better ideas?
      >>
      >> To spread my net wide, I would be interested in any tree you know of
      >> which has cones which are unusual in any way.
      >>
      >> I would be very grateful for any help with any part of this. I would
      >> be grateful for cuttings (which preserve the gene combination which
      >> gave rise to feature of interest) or seeds (especially if they are
      >> big) or an invitation to see a tree of interest.
      >>
      >> The plan is to copy the "Open Source" ideas of Linux and similar
      >> computer systems. All those who contribute material will be offered
      >> the results of my work.
      >>
      >> Unfortunately I have to be away at the busiest time for this, 18 Sept
      >> - 19 Oct, to attend the wedding of my nephew to a Nepali girl in
      >> Kathmandu. It will be a Hindu ceremony, with "heroic eating and
      >> drinking", followed by a walk in "the hills" - the Himalayas!
      >>
      >> Michael Bell
      >>
      >> --
      >>




      > ------------------------------------

      > Yahoo! Groups Links





      --
    • Michael Bell
      In message ... Dear Sara Here is my circular and progress report for Autumn 2011 Dear Melissa Now is the time of
      Message 2 of 13 , Sep 29, 2011
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        In message <985951.71979.qm@...>
        Sara Elbrai <selbrai@...> wrote:


        > What an interesting post.

        > Thanks, Michael.

        > Sara

        Dear Sara

        Here is my circular and progress report for Autumn 2011

        Dear Melissa

        Now is the time of mists and mellow fruitfulness and I wonder if you
        could make people aware of this project, and if they happen upon an
        interesting variant I would be grateful to know of it. Or if you have
        a pressed specimen with less robust cones or different growth habit,
        then I could go to that place and see if I can find living specimens.

        I have a project to develop alder (Alnus glutinosa) as a grain crop.
        My reasons for this are:-

        Britain cannot feed itself because half its land is too high and cold
        for grain production. This is not because this land is infertile, the
        tree-line is much higher than the crop line. It is because the main
        grain crops originated in the Mediterranean and they are at the limit
        of their range in Britain. To make use of this land we need to take a
        plant which grows well in British upland conditions and breed it into
        a suitable grain crop. There are many possible plants, and some sedges
        show potential, but it would be a huge task to even evaluate them all.



        Instead I have seized on the idea of alder because:-

        * It is a tree; it can be more productive than a herb crop.
        * Birds and small animals eat alder seeds and I know from many reports
        and personal test that they are not harmful to man. Like other seed
        crops, wheat, rice, oats, the taste lies in the preparation.
        * It fixes nitrogen. Nitrate fertilisers are expensive and a big
        source of CO2 production.
        * It is a tree, once established it is insensitive to weather
        variations.
        * It is a tree, it does not need weeding and chemical weedkilling.
        * The harvesting waste, chiefly cones, but also twigs, may be a useful
        fuel, it comes in handy-sized pieces. The fallen leaves may also be
        used as a fuel, they are plentiful.
        * It is a tree, ground does not have to prepared for it every year
        nor seed sown. This saves on the CO2 output of ploughing with heavy
        machinery.
        * Over its commercial life (50 years?) a tree will store a lot of
        carbon.
        * Alnus glutinosa grows in Tunisia and Algeria, the latitude of China
        and Northern India. It could be useful there in holding back erosion
        on steep slopes.

        But alder needs to be improved to become a grain crop. In particular
        it needs bigger seeds. I spent the whole of last autumn going round
        alders on Tyneside (You can't do it in the rain, it is pleasant
        work.), pulling cones off trees, breaking them open by rolling and
        crushing them between two plates and sieving them. I found six trees
        with SIGNIFICANTLY bigger seeds. They obviously weren't the top end of
        a bell-curve, they were a STEP bigger. I germinated these bigger
        seeds, germination was poor, partly because of my inexperience with
        this species, but partly also because many bigger seeds are
        deformities or are stuffed with "cork". Nevertheless, some germinated
        and produced cotyledons which were noticeably bigger than standard,
        showing that they contained more food.

        I grafted these seedlings onto "adult" trees on places on the branches
        which should produce catkins and cones this year for fruiting next
        year, but my grafting technique was poor and none of them took. I have
        taken advice and I now know how to do better next year.

        (To hold such small stems together I found it best to use
        Hellermann sleeves, put over the stock end with a Hellermann
        tool. These are normally used in electronic wiring. I came
        to the belief that the usual grafting sealers contain
        fungicides and alcohol which actually kill such small green
        pieces. Vaseline seems to be the right stuff, we put it on
        baby's bottoms!)

        Grafting the products of hybridisation will shorten the breeding cycle
        from 7 years to 2 years.

        I went to the trees which had produced the bigger seeds, covered their
        cones with plastic bags to stop their neighbours from fertilising
        them, and fertilised them from the other big-seed producers. I will
        collect the results in the next few weeks.

        Bigger seeds are one thing I want, but also I look at the cones and
        think "They are too big. The tree wastes too much on them. I want less

        robust cones. Although rolling and crushing the cones is fairly
        efficient, I would like harvesting to be even easier." And so I would
        like less robust cones, something which can be seen just walking past.

        I would also like trees with different growth habits. This could make
        a big difference to harvesting methods. In this I have been lucky, I
        have already found :-

        * Varieties with all-cone branches, producing very many more cones.
        * Varieties with almost all cones and no or very few catkins.
        * A dwarf variety. What might be the harvesting use of this?
        * A variety which has grown to 2.7 metres in 3 years.

        It would be asking too much to ask people to break open cones and
        sieve the seeds to find the biggest, though I would be grateful and
        provide equipment and help to anybody who does want to do this.

        What I feel I can ask is for people who walk past trees to look at
        them with my needs in mind;-

        CONES - Do they look different to usual?

        GROWTH HABIT - Does this tree have a different shape and branch
        layout?

        You could tell me by phone - 0191 266 6435
        You could tell me by e-mail - michael@...
        You could write to me -
        20 Cambridge Avenue
        Forest Hall
        Newcastle upon Tyne
        NE12 8AR
        UK.

        We could meet at an agreed place and you could take me to the tree you
        have found and go to a pub after.

        You could send the Ordnance Grid reference.

        Thank you for reading all this!

        Michael Bell


        --







        --
      • Michael Bell
        In message ... Ossi What have you found? Here is my circular and progress report for Autumn 2011 Now is
        Message 3 of 13 , Sep 29, 2011
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          In message <55946.84.248.237.202.1249538128.squirrel@...>
          "Ossi Kakko" <ossi@...> wrote:

          > Greetings from fennoscandia,

          > we have both a. incana and a. glutinosa as native.

          > occasionally i gather alnus seeds to eat by spreading
          > blankets under the tree (on snow) and by rocking the trunk
          > on a day which is not too windy, so the loss of seeds is minimal.

          > suitable timing here comes usually in february-march,
          > when the seeds drop naturally as cones open up. then seeds can
          > be ground with stones with or without roasting, in soups or
          > in bread or as a spread.... anyway one can prefer.

          > i would say there's already quite sufficient yield from
          > a single tree, so breeding sounds pretty weird,
          > but will anyway have a look next season
          > in case i see what you search for.

          > ossi kakko

          Ossi

          What have you found?

          Here is my circular and progress report for Autumn 2011


          Now is the time of mists and mellow fruitfulness and I wonder if you
          could make people aware of this project, and if they happen upon an
          interesting variant I would be grateful to know of it. Or if you have
          a pressed specimen with less robust cones or different growth habit,
          then I could go to that place and see if I can find living specimens.

          I have a project to develop alder (Alnus glutinosa) as a grain crop.
          My reasons for this are:-

          Britain cannot feed itself because half its land is too high and cold
          for grain production. This is not because this land is infertile, the
          tree-line is much higher than the crop line. It is because the main
          grain crops originated in the Mediterranean and they are at the limit
          of their range in Britain. To make use of this land we need to take a
          plant which grows well in British upland conditions and breed it into
          a suitable grain crop. There are many possible plants, and some sedges
          show potential, but it would be a huge task to even evaluate them all.




          Instead I have seized on the idea of alder because:-

          * It is a tree; it can be more productive than a herb crop.
          * Birds and small animals eat alder seeds and I know from many reports
          and personal test that they are not harmful to man. Like other seed
          crops, wheat, rice, oats, the taste lies in the preparation.
          * It fixes nitrogen. Nitrate fertilisers are expensive and a big
          source of CO2 production.
          * It is a tree, once established it is insensitive to weather
          variations.
          * It is a tree, it does not need weeding and chemical weedkilling.
          * The harvesting waste, chiefly cones, but also twigs, may be a useful
          fuel, it comes in handy-sized pieces. The fallen leaves may also be
          used as a fuel, they are plentiful.
          * It is a tree, ground does not have to prepared for it every year
          nor seed sown. This saves on the CO2 output of ploughing with heavy
          machinery.
          * Over its commercial life (50 years?) a tree will store a lot of
          carbon.
          * Alnus glutinosa grows in Tunisia and Algeria, the latitude of China
          and Northern India. It could be useful there in holding back erosion
          on steep slopes.

          But alder needs to be improved to become a grain crop. In particular
          it needs bigger seeds. I spent the whole of last autumn going round
          alders on Tyneside (You can't do it in the rain, it is pleasant
          work.), pulling cones off trees, breaking them open by rolling and
          crushing them between two plates and sieving them. I found six trees
          with SIGNIFICANTLY bigger seeds. They obviously weren't the top end of
          a bell-curve, they were a STEP bigger. I germinated these bigger
          seeds, germination was poor, partly because of my inexperience with
          this species, but partly also because many bigger seeds are
          deformities or are stuffed with "cork". Nevertheless, some germinated
          and produced cotyledons which were noticeably bigger than standard,
          showing that they contained more food.

          I grafted these seedlings onto "adult" trees on places on the branches
          which should produce catkins and cones this year for fruiting next
          year, but my grafting technique was poor and none of them took. I have
          taken advice and I now know how to do better next year.

          (To hold such small stems together I found it best to use
          Hellermann sleeves, put over the stock end with a Hellermann
          tool. These are normally used in electronic wiring. I came
          to the belief that the usual grafting sealers contain
          fungicides and alcohol which actually kill such small green
          pieces. Vaseline seems to be the right stuff, we put it on
          baby's bottoms!)

          Grafting the products of hybridisation will shorten the breeding cycle
          from 7 years to 2 years.

          I went to the trees which had produced the bigger seeds, covered their
          cones with plastic bags to stop their neighbours from fertilising
          them, and fertilised them from the other big-seed producers. I will
          collect the results in the next few weeks.

          Bigger seeds are one thing I want, but also I look at the cones and
          think "They are too big. The tree wastes too much on them. I want less


          robust cones. Although rolling and crushing the cones is fairly
          efficient, I would like harvesting to be even easier." And so I would
          like less robust cones, something which can be seen just walking past.

          I would also like trees with different growth habits. This could make
          a big difference to harvesting methods. In this I have been lucky, I
          have already found :-

          * Varieties with all-cone branches, producing very many more cones.
          * Varieties with almost all cones and no or very few catkins.
          * A dwarf variety. What might be the harvesting use of this?
          * A variety which has grown to 2.7 metres in 3 years.

          It would be asking too much to ask people to break open cones and
          sieve the seeds to find the biggest, though I would be grateful and
          provide equipment and help to anybody who does want to do this.

          What I feel I can ask is for people who walk past trees to look at
          them with my needs in mind;-

          CONES - Do they look different to usual?

          GROWTH HABIT - Does this tree have a different shape and branch
          layout?

          You could tell me by phone - 0191 266 6435
          You could tell me by e-mail - michael@...
          You could write to me -
          20 Cambridge Avenue
          Forest Hall
          Newcastle upon Tyne
          NE12 8AR
          UK.

          We could meet at an agreed place and you could take me to the tree you
          have found and go to a pub after.

          You could send the Ordnance Grid reference.

          Thank you for reading all this!

          Michael Bell


          --









          --



          --
        • inverse
          ... if I happen to pass by an interesting alder specimen with ripe cones I ll make sure to mail you the seeds I m in northern Italy and relatively close to the
          Message 4 of 13 , Sep 29, 2011
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            On Thu, Sep 29, 2011 at 9:46 AM, Michael Bell <michael@...> wrote:

            You could write to me -


             
            if I happen to pass by an interesting alder specimen with ripe cones I'll make sure to mail you the seeds

            I'm in northern Italy and relatively close to the Alps (15Km from the nearest mountains and 3Km from the nearest hills) 


            Bye,
            Inverse

             

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