Growing Grasses

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Kay, good deduction on my location, 80 miles north of San Francisco in the Redwoods, a temperate rain forest.
So here's the deal. I'm trying to grow flax for its' omega-3 fatty acids. I bought flax seed marked omega because I thought that implied a higher level of the omega-3s in the seeds http://www.horizonherbs.com/group.asp?grpE&pgNUM=4 . Maybe it does but the two varieties are both identified as Linum usitatissimum. Got any idea how different a cultivar could be from its' genome in expressing it's genetic traits? I am awaiting a reply from the company but I would like a third party's opinion as well. Fortunately, purslane is an alternative and, should be easier to grow. It would be cool to have my own train tracks though.
Much thanks, milli grazi, merci beaucoup, viele dank, muchas gracias and, all that sort of thing,
- Bill Cloribus gustibus non disputatum (mostly)
P.S. Again, I saw one bee (honey type) yesterday. We are heading into a few overcast days and, some rain, so the weather guesser says.
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First set of foothills east side of the Willamette valley here. Similar but non-equivalent climates. Redwoods do ok here, but they don't flourish. But I probably can match you banana slug for banana slug. <g> Flax can be weedy around here. But not in the shade of doug firs.

Can I recast your question for you? I don't think you're asking what you think you're asking.
What I think you're asking is basically, can cultivar A be quite different from "generic species", and can cultivar A be quite different in some property than cultivar B? The answer to both of those questions is "yes". Consider, for instance, wild common sunflower, Helianthus annuus. Smallish heads on lanky plants with medium sized leaves. But from the wild plants were selected a couple of types under heavy agronomic cultivation now: oil-seed sunflowers generally look much like their wild prototypes -- multiple heads, often kinda rangy looking plants, small seeds, but a lot more oil per seed and per plant than the wild types. The other agronomic form is the large-seeded form grown for confectionary use... the packaged snack sunflower seeds. Seeds are relatively large, relatively low in oil, and heads are much larger (and usually just one per plant) compared to the wild or oil seed types. And then there are the decorative forms that have suddenly become popular in horticultural circles, like the pink flowered sunflowers or the "teddy bear" type cultivars.
You'll see exactly the same thing looking at most multi-purpose crops. In flax, there are cultivars of Linum usitatissimum that make lovely, strong bast fibers... they're the ones that are cultivated to make linen from. Nobody really cares about the seed oil content of these, so chances are it's around that of the wild type flaxes. Then there are the oil seed types bred for linseed oil 50 or more years ago; high oil content, but I'd expect the amount of linolenic acid (the major omega 3 fatty acid in flaxseed) to be somewhat variable, because the breeders then were looking for gallons of linseed oil per acre, and the presscake shouldn't actually kill animals it was fed to <g>. The new push for high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids probably caused breeders to go back and check the oil seed cultivars available, and either market one with decent amounts of linoleic acid production as "health food" or perhaps to breed especially for linolenic acid content. I wouldn't expect oil seed flaxes to have nice strong fibers for making linen fabric. Different cultivars, different genetic backgrounds, different tissues and composition of plants.
My guess is that the "omega" seed they're offering is an oilseed type, and may be selected for high linolenic acid. And the "brown flax seed" they're offering at a lower cost is whatever they can get or produce cheap. BUT, without an analysis, I'd be unwilling to state that their "omega" is higher than their "brown flax seed" in linolenic acid content. They don't actually state that their seed is the cultivar called 'Omega' in this research report, and the form of the name they use is not what I'd expect from an operation with plant breeders, but it may be the same. Or maybe not. Anyhow, here's the research report mentioning 'Omega': http://ag.montana.edu/warc/flax.htm -- it appears that there is a high linolenic acid cultivar, with lighter-colored seed, called 'Omega'
Where would you go to find information on what cultivars are particularly high in linolenic acid? You could try a google search with something like [linolenic flax content seed], but I'd probably go to a couple of other abstracting services -- PubMed for medically related data, and Agricola for plant breeding, etc. and poke around for names of cultivars and comparative data tables. I'd expect Agricola to be the richer source. Pubmed is here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?DB=pubmed and Agricola is here: http://agricola.nal.usda.gov/ (I'd search articles, not books, first)
Once I got the names of some cultivars with the desired properties, I'd try to find seed and see which grew well for me and which I could stand to eat. <g>
More thoughts possibly irrelevant to your immediate question: 1) dark brown seeds tend to contain more flavonoids than light brown seeds. We are all now being urged to get more dietary flavonoids for their various antioxidant functions -- e.g., lutein, quercitin. If you're hoping to do that at the same time, you probably want to pick a darker seeded cultivar than 'Omega'. On the flip side, flavonoids are pretty yucky tasting to most people, and do a wonderful job of binding proteins. So ya pays your money and ya takes your chances on some of this stuff.
2) Your actual question was "Got any idea how different a cultivar could be from its' genome in expressing it's genetic traits?" translates to me as a question that I'd re-translate to English as "Can growing conditions make a plant do something that's not within its genes?" And that gets to be a really complex question that's still got a lot of research ahead of it. But right now, the basic answer is "No." Phenotype, the plant characters we can see, touch, taste, measure, etc. is the product of both the environment and the genes within the individual. Genes sort of set the limits of what's possible for the phenotype, but within those limits, environment plays a big role in what we "see". For instance, if you grow a cherry tomato plant in the best possible environment for producing tomatoes, with plenty of light, the perfect temperatures, the perfect soil, the perfect amount of soil nutrients, the perfect pH -- well, you're still going to be picking cherry tomatoes off that plant. They might be a little bigger than average, but they're not going to be two pounders like you might pick off a 'Beefsteak' under the same conditions. Take that 'Beefsteak' seed and plant it in poor conditions for tomato, and the tomatoes you get are unlikely to be a couple of pounds each. In fact, under some really stressful conditions, you might be picking what you think are cherry tomatoes. But they're really 'Beefsteak', just really poorly grown 'Beefsteak'. That's an example of environmental factors acting in concert with the genome of an individual cultivar to produce plants that "look" different, but are genetically the same. So another "gotcha" in your growing your own high linolenic acid flax is that it may not produce as much linolenic acid under your growing conditions as it does in a test plot in Montana. Or North Dakota. Or where ever. Or it may produce more. Without an analysis, you'll never really know.
And with that, I'll bid you good night... I've had a few too many short nights and long days recently, and the quilts are calling to me... ;-)
Kay
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I'm just going to let my jaw hang here for a little while longer.
I mean, like, WOW and, SHAZAAM!!! I'm going to be picking-up pieces of my mind for the next month.
I prostrate myself before your knowledge, oh master. Do you charge much to let mortals worship at your feet?
Thank you, seems so insufficient.
It's hard to segue into something juvenile, after standing on the mountain top, but my public expects it. Your only young once but, you can be immature forever, ya know?
The redwoods extend from Monterey, California to southern Oregon. It provides the perfect breeding grounds for that 9 inch, black and kaki, wonder of the western world, THE BANANA SLUG. A gardener can't really stomp one of these critters because you end up with leaves and pine needles glued to the bottom of your boot for the next couple of days. Our brightest minds pondered on the question of how to rid ourselves of these pesky critters and a plan was devised. The cultural center of the Russian River (soon to be Russian Creek) is Guerneville (A.k.a. Stump Town [when it wasn't under water, {which it used to be at least once a year} then it was called a flood but, that's another story] because that was all that was left once the loggers had finished their labors.) holds a yearly celebration of this magnificent gastropod call "Slug Fest". The high light of this intellectual exposition, catered by local breweries and wineries, is (hang on to your breakfast) a slug cook-off. The "best" recipe wins.
Personally, I hide until all those pre-verts are outta town.
Strangely, this deviant behavior seems to be spreading. You Danish speakers might enjoy http://www.dr.dk/Regioner/Bornholm/Tema/2004/Snegle/20041117111142.htm mono-linguists can go to the English speaking sites that are listed.
Well, it was nice being on Mount Olympus but now I'm safely back to my ol' familiar neighborhood.
Thank you again dear lady,
- Bill Cloribus gustibus non disputatum (mostly)
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That was way more information that he needs.
Gloria


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LMAO!
Gloria


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