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Cucurbit Genetics Cooperative Report 4:46 (article 25) 1981

The Derivatives of 'Fordhook Zucchini' and Their Breeding Value

O. Shifriss

Department of Horticulture and Forestry, Cook College, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08903

A cultivar by the name Fordhook Zucchini (Cucurbita pepo L.) was introduced by W. Atlee Burpee Co. in 1942. According to available information, this cultivar was obtained from M. Herb of Naples, Italy. As a former plant breeder for Burpee, I became familiar with this cultivar from the first year of its introduction. It was unique in its long, glossy, dark green fruits but highly variable in growth habit, foliage characteristics, and fruit size and shape.

As a result of painstaking work of selection and inbreeding, I isolated from this cultivar a uniform line that possessed a number of useful characteristics including open habit of growth, spineless foliage, and attractive, cylindrical fruits. This line was introduced by Burpee in 1947 as 'Fordhook Zucchini Improved'. However, sometime later the word "Improved" was deleted from the name of the new cultivar and thus the name of the old cultivar was restored, although the latter became extinct in 1947.

In 1964, I completed the substitution of B for B+ in the background of 'Fordhook Zucchini Improved' (1, 2) and the resulting breeding line (B/B) is known as 'Precocious Fordhook Zucchini'.

'Fordhook Zucchini Improved' and 'Precocious Fordhook Zucchini' have become prime sources of breeding material for at least two reasons. First, they have an exceptionally high combining ability in the production of F1 hybrids of the Zucchini group. For example, one of the most important F1 hybrids of the standard Zucchini group is the cross between 'Caserta', developed by Dr. L. C. Curtis, and 'Fordhook Zucchini Improved'. Furthermore, 'Precocious Fordhook Zucchini' is being used for the production of precocious hybrids such as 'Gold Rush'. Second, 'Fordhook Zucchini Improved' and 'Precocious Fordhook Zucchini' are being utilized by plant breeders in different parts of the world as sources of genes for spineless foliage, a highly desirable characteristic in summer squash.

Literature Cited

  1. Shifriss, O. 1965. The unpredictable gourds. Amer. Hort. Mag. 44: 184-201.
  2. Shifriss, O. 1981. Origin, expression, and significance of gene B in Cucurbita pepo L. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 106: 220-232.
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