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November 3rd, 2009:

Giant Vegetables and Fruit

Hey folks. I announce I’m going to be working on my NSF fellowship application all week and you all go break the daily traffic record. At this rate you’ll convince me to spend every week writing grant proposals!

What’s a guy gonna do? Apparently dig up more content to show you guys. Here are some cool pictures of giant fruits and vegetables. The giant pumpkin at the end is a particularly awesome 1725 pound monster.

There are also some pictures of things like giant burgers or giant pizzas but I just have trouble getting as exciting about huge versions of prepared food. Given sufficient money and time, humanity could produce a burger much heavier than 150 pounds or a pizza much wider than 42 inches. The size of these food items is limited solely by human motivation.

Cool mutants and horticultural tricks are way more exciting. 😉

Updating the Blog-roll Again

I’ve found two new blogs to link to.

Sustainablog

When Biofortified linked to Steve Savage’s post The Bizarre, Modern Coalition of Anti-Science Forces my first thought was “how can it be I’ve never seen this site before?”

Science has a tendency to tell us some things we don’t want to hear at times – something that challenges our core pre-suppositions. Sometimes what science tells us really matters, so just rejecting it or ignoring it can have serious consequences.

I’ve been following the updates ever since and it’s definitely a good place to check out, especially Steve Savage’s work.

Good to Grow

I try to avoid getting attached to new blogs. Keeping up with posts is hard work, it’s not always rewarding, and the internet is littered with abandoned blogs. Good to Grow is a less than a month old plantie blog*, but so far the author has been keeping up a good pace of updates and once I’d learned how easy it would be to steal a piece of my roommate’s Jade plant I was hooked. The fact that a person can make many more Jade plants starting with a single plant gets back to this morning’s post about how plants breeds are a non-rivalrous good.

*Plantie: Like foodie only focused on the growing of plants rather than the preparation of food. I’m started to discover a whole world of plantie blogs through PlantsAreTheStrangestPeople . I don’t know if they already have a better word to describe their area of interest. I suppose horticulture fits pretty well but maybe it sounds too intimidating?

Sugar Belle Citrus and Patents

Mandarin Orange (Not a Sugar Belle)

Mandarin Orange (Not a Sugar Belle) from dungodung on flickr

We’ve been talking about grains and genetic engineering strait for a few days, so I thought it’d be the perfect time to put up a story about conventionally bred citrus. The University of Florida put out a press release about a new mandarin orange breed developed by Fred Gmitter, called Sugar Belle. The fruit is of course described as delicious and it may well be, I can’t say one way or the other. Importantly to a different group of people (producers rather than consumers of citrus fruit), the fruit matures 4-6 weeks earlier than other varieties of mandarin, making the harvest better timed to cater to the demand for citrus around Christmas.

Fred has been developing the breed since 1985, when he found the tree Sugar Belle was bred from in the experimental plot of another plant breeder who’d just retired. That’s twenty-four years of research and development. 1985 is the year “new coke” was released. Soviet and Western forces still faced off against each other across the Berlin Wall. If Sugar Belle was a person, it’d already be old enough to be in grad school right now.

The lesson here (one of them) is that it takes a long time to breed fruit trees.

But that’s not the only interesting thing about this story. (more…)