Geochemical profiling of asparagus seed

P.G. Falloon, R.J. McLeod
F1 asparagus seed produces crops with higher yields, greater uniformity and better disease resistance than crops grown from F2 seed. Results from a field trial at Lincoln, New Zealand in which yields from plants grown from F1 and F2 seed of two hybrids showed that marketable yield was between 2 and 3 times higher and plant survival six years after planting was 20-25% higher in plants grown from F1 seed. F1 and F2 seed looks the same so it is difficult to tell whether the grower is buying true F1 asparagus seed. Geochemical profiling of asparagus seed for a suite of trace elements and stable isotopes of carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen provided a simple, cost effective method to identify seed grown in a particular location. Geographical variability in soil and climate lead to differences in the concentration of trace elements and stable isotope ratios, which are reflected in plants (and seeds) grown in each region. We used the technique to demonstrate that asparagus seed grown in California, USA had a different profile from seed grown in New Zealand. The same result was found when seed was compared from cultivars with both different and similar genetic background. Seed origin could also be differentiated at smaller spatial scales within each growing region. A sample of seed of unknown origin was shown to have a natural chemical profile that was indistinguishable from the seed produced in Canterbury. Since hybrid asparagus seed blocks may remain productive for 10-15 years, geochemical profiling can be used to determine whether or not seed is true to label.
Falloon, P.G. and McLeod, R.J. (2020). Geochemical profiling of asparagus seed. Acta Hortic. 1301, 17-26
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2020.1301.3
asparagus seed, F1, F2, geochemical profiling, stable isotopes, trace elements, geographical origin, provenance, cultivars, yield

Acta Horticulturae