Who doesn’t love old trees? I, for one, could read about them for days. And, alas, have occasionally done so. Especially if they are cultivated species. The internet is full of old, attractively gnarled olive trees, for example. Old grapevines, not so much. There was recently that piece in The Economist about recreating Leonardo’s vineyard, but that’s not quite the same thing.
So it was a pleasant surprise to come across the Old Vines Register, curated by wine expert Jancis Robinson. Turns out there are some 400-year-old vines out there. Which I’d really like to see some day.
Anyway, since I’m talking grapes, I might as well highlight the work of the Vitis Working Group of the European Cooperative Programme for Plant Genetic Resources (ECPGR). Note in particular their “On-farm inventory of minor grape varieties in the European Vitis Database.” There must be some pretty old vines among those.
As for genebanks, there are 16,000 accessions of cultivated Vitis out there (plus 2,400 wild relatives), according to Genesys, though only about 1,900 are geo-referenced (see map below). Genesys, remember, brings data from ECPGR’s European genebank database, Eurisco, together with that from genebanks in other parts of the world. There is also a separate European Vitis Database, though I’m not sure of the exact overlap with Eurisco.
What of the future? Well, we’re probably going to need all that diversity given what climate change is already doing to the crop. A recent Twitter thread by Dr Sarah Taber analyzed the depiction of vineyards in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation set in the year 2367. We’ll just have to see if her decidedly critical view of twenty-fourth century management practices is borne out in the forthcoming series, which does seem to feature, at least according to the trailer, somewhat better kept, though not particularly old-looking, vines. No word yet on what varieties the Picards grew, and will grow.
- Virginia Gewin on GB8.
- Mapping water risks around the world.
- The decline and rise of Georgian tea.
- Virus hits tilapia. A lot of people could be hurt.
- Amaranthus in Mexico.
- Just one of many relatively neglected crops around the world that shouldn’t be.
- How wheat took over China. That was kinda underused at first too.
- Long webinar on organic maize breeding. Amaranthus next?
- The rise of fabric.
- The CGIAR genebanks in the limelight.
- My friend Ahmed Amri is a big reason for the success of the above.
- The dual role of genebank managers like Ahmed.
- Feel-good nutrition stories needed.
- Rosemary gets a name change. Not many people hurt.
- Fighting food waste through breeding.
- Babylonian cooking deciphered.
- Breadfruit (and Diane Ragone) on TV.
- Maize looks doomed in Zambia. All hail sorghum.
- Food exhibition at the Fitzwilliam.
- Chiltepin culture.
- The forgotten potato of the Four Corners.
- Hey, it’s Seed Week 2019 in the UK and Ireland!
- Something similar in Kenya too, thanks to Bioversity and CCAFS.
- There’s always an apple detective story around this time of year.