Hybridizing Collard and Cabbage to Make Collard Cultivars

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  • 1 USDA-ARS, U.S. Vegetable Laboratory, Charleston, SC 29414
  • 2 Sunseeds, Lodi, Calif.
  • 3 Clemson Univ., Edisto Research and Education Center, Blackville, S,C.
  • 4 Clemson Univ., Coastal Research and Education Center, Charleston, S.C.

Collard (Brassica oleracea L., Acephala Group) is a uniquely American cole crop adapted to the southeastern United States, and several lines of evidence indicate its closest relative is heading cabbage (B. oleracea, Capitata Group). These two cole crops have been grown in close proximity in the Southeast from colonial times. Today, the number of commercially available collard cultivars is limited, and the most popular ones are susceptible to diseases like fusarium yellows, something that numerous cultivars of cabbage are highly resistant to. We postulated that hybrids between cabbage and collard would look more like collard because heading of cabbage is recessive to the nonheading nature of collard, and that such hybrids might be directly used as collard cultivars that express disease resistance from cabbage. Cytoplasmic male-sterile (cms) cabbage inbreds were crossed with different male-fertile collard inbreds using bees in cages to produce hybrid seed. Resulting cabbage-collard hybrids were compared to conventional collard and cabbage cultivars in three replicated field trials in South Carolina. In all trials, collard-cabbage hybrids exhibited similar size and stature as conventional collard, and throughout most of the growing season the hybrids remained nonheading. In addition, the collard-cabbage hybrids were much more uniform than open-pollinated collard cultivars. Among the cabbage-collard hybrids there was significant variation with some more collard-like than others. Results indicate that select collard-cabbage hybrids could out perform certain conventional collards and serve as potential new collard cultivars

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