Thursday, October 13, 2011

Genetic Engineering vs. Breeding


"Many administrators, private and public, have decided that the future of plant breeding lies in genomics, relying on claims that molecular genetics has revolutionized the time frame for product development. ‘Seldom has it been pointed out that it is going to take as long to breed a molecular engineering gene into a successful cultivar as it takes for a natural gene’- Goodman 2002

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

openSNP and Personal Genomics

So if you haven't heard, Direct to Customer (DTC) genomics has hit the mainstream. Multiple companies (23andMe, deCODEme, etc.) will now genotype you, providing you with a detailed rundown of all your genetic traits and tendencies...
Well, not exactly.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

California Almonds


I recently got a tour of some Cali Central Valley almond farms from the Almond Doctor.

The nuts were in the process of being harvested. The first step is to shake the nuts off the tree with a machine that grabs them around the trunk (here's a video*). One way you can tell almond and peach (both Prunus species) orchards apart is to look at how low the first branches are. Almond trees are trained to branch higher above the ground to give the machine room to grab them. Peach trees are trained to branch almost immediately above the ground to help most of the canopy stay low enough to be reached without ladders (due to the increased chance of injuries). Maximum canopy height is more rigorously limited in peaches for the same reason.

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