Cultivariable Breeds Two New Open Source Oca Varieties

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Oca is a potato-like specialty crop that is becoming popular in the Pacific Northwest. Cultivariable has bred two new varieties of this South American vegetable for better performance in North American climates.

New oca variety 'Sockeye'

These are the first new oca varieties bred specifically for the North American market. They were created using traditional plant breeding methods (non-GMO), without any synthetic inputs, and have been released under open source terms.

Cultivariable, one of the foremost breeders and retailers of Andean root vegetable crops in the USA, has released the first new varieties of oca bred for Pacific Northwest climates. Oca (Oxalis tuberosa) is an Andean root vegetable that is traditionally grown from northern Argentina to Colombia in cool mountain climates. It is known as one of the "lost crops of the Incas," because, although it was originally cultivated alongside the potato, it was not adopted into European agriculture as the potato was.

Although it is not a potato, oca is used and grown similarly to the potato and is often positioned as an alternative that is more disease resistant. The individual tubers are smaller, but yields are similar. Oca tubers come in a wide range of vivid colors, have thin waxy skins, and are often prepared whole, like new potatoes.

The two new varieties, Redshift and Sockeye, were bred in coastal Washington state and selected based on their high yields, good flavor, and attractive colors. Sockeye has a tart flavor and a dense texture that has been compared to winter squash with lemon. Redshift has a non-acidic flavor that is similar to potato.

These are the first new oca varieties bred specifically for the North American market. They were created using traditional plant breeding methods (i.e. they are not genetically modified), without any synthetic inputs, and have been released as open source varieties through the Open Source Seed Initiative.

"Oca is a specialty crop that is starting to attract a lot of attention in the Pacific Northwest," says Cultivariable owner and vegetable breeder William Whitson. "Developing locally adapted varieties is a major step toward establishing oca as an important crop for our region. These new varieties are beautiful, have great flavor, and have performed very well for our trial growers using organic practices."

In addition to original varieties, Cultivariable offers a wide selection of heirloom oca varieties and many other Andean root crops, such as yacon, maca, ulluco, mashua, and mauka. These crops are well suited to maritime climate regions in North America.

About Cultivariable:
Located in Moclips, WA, Cultivariable is one of the largest seed retailers of specialty Andean root crops in the United States and works to breed new varieties of these crops so that they may eventually be introduced into wider cultivation in North America.

For more information, visit:
https://www.cultivariable.com/

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William Whitson
Cultivariable
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