The goal of the BC Seed Trials is to engage farmers in producing knowledge relevant to seed systems development in British Columbia. The project consists of a network of variety trials aimed at identifying superior crop varieties for fresh market farming and seed production. This report covers variety trials conducted in 2016 at the University of British Columbia Farm (UBC Farm) and on a group of organic and conventional farms, primarily in the BC Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island. More information can be found at www.bcseedtrials.ca.

Spinach is a high value crop for local fresh markets in BC, as well as a crop with potential for better season extension depending on varieties used. As a seed crop, spinach has strong potential as a specialization for the climate conditions of Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. This trial consisted primarily of varieties described in seed catalogues as savoy or semi-savoy. Savoyspinach, which is characterized by deeply crinkled (“savoyed”) leaves, has been noted for itsattractive appearance, sturdy leaves, and good flavour.

Farmer feedback pointed to a range of cropping and harvest practices for spinach in BC, including uncovered, row cover, and hoop house production, and harvesting as both bunches and bulk leaves. It was therefore difficult to choose a single set of practices that would be comparable across farms. For the 2016 we chose to focus on uncovered production and a mid- to late-fall harvest and for bunching. Within this focus, priority traits included:

  • Good germination and early vigour in a late summer planting
  • Upright plant stature with minimal leaf area touching the soil
  • Attractive dark green colour
  • Savoy leaf texture
  • Minimal bolting

See the full report here.