Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Plants That Sustain Us, or Germplasm Me

Attended a lecture today at UNL by a Stephen Baenziger. From what I gather, he's pretty big news here at UNL and nationally in plant genetics and breeding, though by plants we mean corn, wheat, soybeans, et cetera. He reminded me of, in appearance, a more polished Cliff from Cheers, and in some of his wonderfully lame academic jokes like my old neighbor across the street with a funny laugh (jokes like 2B or not 2b from highschool algebra).

Fun things I learned:

-- For every 50 meters in elevation the temperature drops by 1 degree.

--Plants that feed us are especially situated running east and west across the globe, and fairly straight across. That is, plant distribution--the rich energetic kinds we need--require a long period of light during the day and year, and more consistent temps. Also, there's the fact that mountains and large bodies of water impede north / south migration.

--Plants that are not native to a region thrive because of less pests and dieseases. I wonder if this applies to ornamental plants like flowers? Do my lilies fair better in Nebraska? The anemone? I doubt it.

--Wheat is from Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria. Lettuce from the Mediterranean. Potatoes from Peru (as are tomatoes I think, somewhere in South America). Cotton and oranges from Asia. Sugarcane from Siam and Java.

--Apple pie is not American: apples from Asia, cinnamon from India, shortening from China....

--In order to encourage the populace to eat taters and thus quell a famine, Louis XVI planted 100 acres on his royal grounds and placed guards there 24 /7. Once the plants were ready to be harvested, he pulled back the guards. Curious Frenchies, envious and mystified by what these important plants must be, came in at night and ransacked the fields.

--Fort Collins, CO is the Fort Knox of agricultural seed / germplasm preservation with the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation. (please note my garage isn't, though looks it.)

1 comment:

Katie said...

As much as I'd love to orchard is ALL MINE! Sorry neighbors. But Louie XVI was on to something there...