Seed saving process for tubers?

If seeds mature well before the tubers are ready, how does the seed-saving process work? For instance, TPS. Would you save all the fruit from every single plant (which could be a great many), each fruit group individually labelled according to which specific plant in the field it came from, (I assume they’d need refrigeration, so a huge fridge?), and then after digging and testing the tuber, go back through all the fruits to save which ones you want?

It seems like so much time and space and energy, is there a more efficient way to handle it?

there’s a video of julia harvesting her TPS with Joseph Lofthouse, they harvested both at the same time, putting the berries into the same container as the tuber. In the case where it’d be separate i think you’d use a permanent marker and some flagging tape and just write the number for the berries so you know which tubers when you harvest

1 Like

I’ve wondered about this myself, because I’m thinking I’ll need to harvest my sunchoke seeds before the tubers. (Assuming I’ll get seeds from them. I hope so!)

Oh, now I’m wondering about this in regard to sweet potatoes as well. @MarkReed, do you harvest your sweet potato seeds and tubers at the same time, or do you do them separately and keep track of what seeds came from where somehow?

1 Like

In my project sweet potato seeds can start maturing in early July with a maximum of four seeds per capsule and can be harvested outside daily until frost. It is a very, very, time consuming and tedious process. If it isn’t done pretty much every day and thoroughly the capsules will shatter and lose the seeds. Keeping track of which seeds came from which plants isn’t something I’ve done a lot of up till now but that will change next year. For the most part so far, I have not attempted to match seeds to the roots they came from.

It’s much easier when a nicely rooting plant is discovered to simple look at its top growth at the time if harvest. If it has nice roots, lots of seeds and preferred growth habit, I clone it the next season for backcrossing with the overall grex, next year will be G10. Ony seeds from those cloned plants because I already know they have good roots are saved separately.

The storage roots, not tubers, are harvested prior to frost killing the vines. Seeds on discarded vines can continue to mature even if light frost burns the leaves a bit. I often shove the plant back in the soil after harvesting the roots to continue maturing seeds until frost. I also often take cuttings, sometimes just the flower stem with capsules on it from favored plants, inside to finish maturing the remaining seeds.

I have never been successful in getting many seeds or tubers from potatoes, but I suspect for those that have a similar approach may work to what I call “distill” the desired traits into a productive line of seeds.

1 Like

Having the berries ripen before the tubers is unusual physiologically… Usually it’s opposite problem, it can be hard to wait long enough (plants die, tubers get eaten by gophers etc) until the berries ripen. I would suggest that if the berries are ripe, nothing else good is going to be happening underground (tubersa re done), and if the tubers aren’t what you want to keep at that point, toss the berries.

You could try asking the same question in the Cultivariable or Kenosha facebook groups, love to hear what others would say.

When I’m harvesting TPS, for any plant that makes the cut (for me based on survival and color, and a decent yield), I harvest berries and tubers at the same time, the good tubers stay separate with their berries (I harvest the berries with the tubers in the same little tub/bag/whatever). At home with more time, I often cook one of each to test for bitterness, and keep berries for whatever makes the final selection. Hope that makes sense.