Is Anyone Breeding Gooseberries?

Is there anyone out there breeding gooseberries? Seems to me like most every gooseberry cultivar from America was introduced in the 1800’s or early 1900’s. Jeanne was released from the NCGR, but there must have been a mix up somewhere because they dont know where it came from or what it’s pedigree is. Tixia is one of the newest ones I’ve seen, and it was originally crossed in Switzerland in 1990. Is there anywhere or anyone breeding currently in the US? I plan on starting to mess with backyard breeding of them when my cultivar bushes start producing in a year or two. We have wild ones growing everywhere in my location in SW MO. Droughts, floods, late freezes, humidity and fungus, nothing seems to slow down the wild ones. Taste and berry size could be better, but they’re still a big hit in my family.

I found this excerpt from well over a hundred years ago inspiring. I’ve got the space and the time to mess with breeding them. Hopefully a few other people do too. I sincerely believe there is a lot of refining that could still be done with this great plant.

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What is your main focus for breeding, just taste and berry size? This is a very interesting topic to me. :slight_smile:

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Taste first and and foremost. The whole point of me growing any fruit at home is to get taste that I can’t get anywhere else. Next in importance is disease resistance, drought tolerance, and just general toughness. Next is lack of thorns. Next is vigor, or at least plants that can thrive in poor rocky hillside soil. Last is size. Size is very nice, but I personally don’t mind picking a few more berries if the taste is there.

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I might be starting to. I only got a couple seeds from the cross I tried this year. I’m trying to breed for sawfly resistance. I have a sawfly resistant selection with tiny fruit that I’m trying to cross with a large fruited type.

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I think part of the reason there has been less interest compared to say, blueberries, is that our government banned their use and tried to eradicate them from the wild to limit WPBR.

Now that they have been “decriminalized” in most places, I think they just need to be introduced to more people. The few I’ve tried I really enjoyed, and I am planning an order for more varieties this year.

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Very late to this discussion, but I’m curious about how one goes about breeding gooseberries. I feel like that’s a foolish question, but I’m wondering if it’s nothing more than waiting for flowers to open, transferring pollen from one plant to another, and then covering the flower until a fruit forms.

If this is a very naive/asinine question, I apologize. Does anyone have good suggestions for resources (books) about plant breeding? Thanks!!

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Do the seeds need stratified or anything?

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I plant the seeds as soon as they are harvested so they stratify naturally over winter. I’m currently up to 7 hybrid seedlings to use for further breeding. :slight_smile:

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Never mind breeding, I am not even allowed to grow them without a license in my state.

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Maybe I’ll try and see if I can get poorman and colossal to cross. Put them in the ground this year, so hopefully bloom next year.

Could be a fun little project

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It would be helpful to breed some gooseberries that don’t have the little tail attached at the end.

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Hi Humblebee! It’s that simple. If a person wanted to be lazy and had a lot of room they could just plant a bunch of seeds from their favorite berries without knowing the male parent, but that would be much less efficient than planting seeds from known crosses.

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Most of the commercially available gooseberries seem to be self-fertile in my experience so if you want to cross them it would be best to hand pollinate otherwise you’ll be growing out many selfed seedlings which won’t be combining the traits you’re attempting to combine.

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There’s videos on YouTube of people doing it with pumpkins. Where I think they also remove the male part of the pumpkin flower they are hand pollinating, then tie the end shut. Granted that’s way easier to do on a flower the size of a grapefruit.

@Humblebee

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