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Creating a Maxima Squash Landrace that is Vigorous, Productive, and Bug and Disease Resistant

 
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Maxima squash aren't grown in the hot and humid area that I live in. In fact people don't even grow winter squash at all because of all of the pest and disease issues that are possible here. Most people grow sweet potatoes as a substitute instead.

However I think that it's very possible to grow Maxima squash here by breeding a locally adapted landrace. I want to select for extreme vigor, where the plant can get going quickly and get big and put down new roots as it spreads out, helping the plant be stronger and less susceptible to squash borers if one area gets damaged. I'm going to select for high production as well and hope that the large plants will make it easier to produce a TON of squash.

I hope that with this squash being so easy to grow and so productive, that those in a similar climate (and even those in a different climate) will have an option to produce a ton of winter squash for fresh eating and also filling up their pantry full of these squash!
 
Steve Thorn
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I started by planting a lot of different varieties together, some that are supposedly heat tolerant and others that are disease resistant. I'm going to let them all breed together and hopefully get some super tough squash for this area that can make squash bugs run home crying.

This photo is from May 7th, when they had pretty recently sprouted.
Baby-maxima-squash.jpg
Baby maxima squash
Baby maxima squash
 
Steve Thorn
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By May 22nd, most have a few true leaves.
Maxima-squash-with-a-fee-true-leaves.jpg
Maxima squash with a fee true leaves
Maxima squash with a fee true leaves
 
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Do you have any galeux d'eysines in your mix? Squash grow without problems here, so I have no idea how it stands up to any of your challenges. The ones I've grown have been huge, vigorous plants that put down extensive roots at each node, though. Might be part of what you're looking for.
 
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Sounds great! I have heard squash can be challenging where I am too (Central Texas) for all the same reasons, and had the thought to do the same as you are doing. Basically I just planted a whole lot of winter squash and will save seeds from ones that do well/ we like. Are Maxima varieties better than Moschata ones in this regard? I have planted both, but I did pay attention to species and tried to plant Maxima near each other, and Moschata near each other.

What varieties did you plant? For Maxima, I planted Candy Roaster, Jarrahdale, and Kabocha. For Moschata, I planted Seminole, Butternut, Honeynut (mini butternut), Musquee de Provence, Black Futsu, Thai Kang Kob. Looking at that list, it seems more of the Moschata ones are adapted for hot, humid, pest-filled climates. But maybe that is why you are trying to make an improved maxima, because the need exists? I'm fairly new to all of this landrace stuff, but super enthusiastic to learn.

When I used to live in a very rainy part of Hawaii, kabocha was basically the only squash people grew there. I think that was because all other squash would get ruined by fruit-flies that would lay their eggs inside the immature fruit, and then the maggots would tunnel through the fruit and destroy it. My understanding was that the kabocha was somehow immune to this; maybe a harder shell for the very beginning. Or maybe all winter squash would have been fine in that regard, but we grew kabocha because it was better adapted to the wet. Anyway, it did great in our extremely wet, humid environment. It was not particularly hot there, though; rarely hitting 90 degrees in summer. It also seemed to live a long time; over  year, I think, because there was no winter chill to kill it. I can't say for sure though; it is surprisingly hard to keep track of such things when there are virtually no seasons.

We get an earlier start down here, and the first seeds I planted are starting to vine out and flower. Oddly, two different butternut-shaped ones are only putting out female flowers. With no male flowers around, I had to pollinate them with a patty-pan squash flower. I just couldn't stand to let those adorable female flowers go to waste. I will have to remember not to save those seeds... I should probably make those particular fruit somehow. Any tips on marking them?
 
Steve Thorn
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Jan White wrote:Do you have any galeux d'eysines in your mix? Squash grow without problems here, so I have no idea how it stands up to any of your challenges. The ones I've grown have been huge, vigorous plants that put down extensive roots at each node, though. Might be part of what you're looking for.



I don't think I got that one because I read it was mainly used for soups and stews. How has it been for fresh eating for you?

It sounds awesome on the healthy and vigorous growing area, thanks for the info on it. Yes that type of healthy and vigorous growing is what I'm looking for!
 
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Lila Stevens wrote:I will have to remember not to save those seeds... I should probably make those particular fruit somehow. Any tips on marking them?



letters or symbols inscribed in the rind while it’s still soft with a fingernail or similar, tend to heal well and stay legible.
 
Lila Stevens
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greg mosser wrote:

Lila Stevens wrote:I will have to remember not to save those seeds... I should probably make those particular fruit somehow. Any tips on marking them?



letters or symbols inscribed in the rind while it’s still soft with a fingernail or similar, tend to heal well and stay legible.



Ah, thank you! I will try that!
 
Steve Thorn
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Lila Stevens wrote:Sounds great! I have heard squash can be challenging where I am too (Central Texas) for all the same reasons, and had the thought to do the same as you are doing. Basically I just planted a whole lot of winter squash and will save seeds from ones that do well/ we like. Are Maxima varieties better than Moschata ones in this regard? I have planted both, but I did pay attention to species and tried to plant Maxima near each other, and Moschata near each other.



I've heard that Moshata are supposedly easier to grow here. I have some planted of those too, and yeah it should be interesting to see if that's the case.

What varieties did you plant? For Maxima, I planted Candy Roaster, Jarrahdale, and Kabocha. For Moschata, I planted Seminole, Butternut, Honeynut (mini butternut), Musquee de Provence, Black Futsu, Thai Kang Kob. Looking at that list, it seems more of the Moschata ones are adapted for hot, humid, pest-filled climates. But maybe that is why you are trying to make an improved maxima, because the need exists? I'm fairly new to all of this landrace stuff, but super enthusiastic to learn.



Yes it seems like their were more varieties available from Moshata that were more adapted to here, I'm interested to see how they do. I need to check my list of all the way too many varieties I purchased. I remember that Candy Roaster for Maxima and Seminole and Thai Kang Kob for Moshata were ones that I planted. I'll try to find that list on the other varieties planted.

When I used to live in a very rainy part of Hawaii, kabocha was basically the only squash people grew there. I think that was because all other squash would get ruined by fruit-flies that would lay their eggs inside the immature fruit, and then the maggots would tunnel through the fruit and destroy it. My understanding was that the kabocha was somehow immune to this; maybe a harder shell for the very beginning. Or maybe all winter squash would have been fine in that regard, but we grew kabocha because it was better adapted to the wet. Anyway, it did great in our extremely wet, humid environment. It was not particularly hot there, though; rarely hitting 90 degrees in summer. It also seemed to live a long time; over  year, I think, because there was no winter chill to kill it. I can't say for sure though; it is surprisingly hard to keep track of such things when there are virtually no seasons.



That's neat info about the kabocha. It's nice to have tough varieties like that. I'm thinking the same thing in regards to the skin. I hope to select for that to help prevent pest damage naturally.

We get an earlier start down here, and the first seeds I planted are starting to vine out and flower. Oddly, two different butternut-shaped ones are only putting out female flowers. With no male flowers around, I had to pollinate them with a patty-pan squash flower. I just couldn't stand to let those adorable female flowers go to waste. I will have to remember not to save those seeds... I should probably make those particular fruit somehow. Any tips on marking them?



I've seen ribbons or string tied around them of different colors where the colors can mean different things, and I think I may use that method to mark them. It seems like a quick method that would work well.

Would love to hear how your squash turn out Lila!
 
Jan White
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I actually don't like squash all that much, so I'm really picky. I like very dense, dry, not too sweet or green-squashy tasting flesh.  Not sure how to describe the taste I mean. I like buttercup and kabocha types.

Galeux d'eysines is okay. It's not as dry as I would like, but the flesh is smooth textured and it tastes decent. It's one I can eat as is, without having to cover up with lots of seasonings, but it's not my favourite.
 
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I have heard that Moschata squashes tend to thrive better in heat, although from experience they seem to stop making flowers when it is too hot. There are some hybrids or squashes descended from hybrids, who perhaps could assist in the creation of landraces: Tetsukabuto, a hybrid moschata x maxima squash, and Koginut, a rather productive Moschata F1 squash rumored to have kabocha ancestors, and which has much potential for selection for flavour and local adaptation. I hear that Seminole pumpkin is a heat and pest tolerant Moschata from Florida-- maybe they could be crossed with Tetsukabuto or Koginut, and eventually incorporated into the landrace?
 
greg mosser
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my experience is that the southeast asian moschata pumpkins are pretty heat/fungus/pest resistant too. and seem to flower pretty well in heat, too.
 
Lila Stevens
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When I chose my seeds, I wasn't really thinking about doing a landrace; just looking for winter squash that might do well here, and be productive and tasty. When I started reading more about seed breeding and landraces, and getting excited about it, that's when I went through and looked up all of my seeds to see which belonged to which species. So that is why I had that handy list all at the ready I had written them all down on my computer so I could plant like near like. I found I ended up with way more moschata than maxima, mainly from combing over reviews on the Baker Creek website. From Baker Creek reviews, Thai Kang Kob is big on putting down roots everywhere, which helps it stay ahead of the squash vine borers. The Candy Roaster comes from North Georgia, I believe, so that should be a good one for heat and humidity.

The kabocha is definitely one that puts down roots all along its vines. I always felt that to grow  them well, I had to make a very large fertile area, because they were foraging nutrients all over with their extra roots. It is also an excellent climber; goes right up bushes and trees. Just climbs on its own volition. Very interesting trying to figure out how to harvest a big, 10-lb squash 15 feet up in a thick jungle.
 
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Last year while visiting  Puerto Rico I bought a squash at an organic market. I liked the taste ( butter nut like,) and saved some seeds. I planted two seeds and got 34 lbs of squash. In Virginia zone 6 with hit and humid summers. It is a moschatta named soler. I found a seller. They have a couple other varieties, including one, taina dorada,  that doesn't spread to the next county.


https://www.caribbeanecoseeds.com/product-page/pumpking-gigante-soler

 
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Jarrahdale are an amazing addition to your breeding crop! We had a horrific drought (for this are, the Ozarks) a few years ago. Months without rain, temps over 100, Japanese beetles in plague proportions.

I had a Jarrahdale that shrugged it all off. I watered it a few times, but mostly left it to its own devices. It spread 50+ feet in each direction and gave me 30 squashes. Vine borers couldn’t keep up with the growth. It just put down roots at the nodes and kept on going. I was so impressed.
 
Lila Stevens
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Grace Underwood wrote:Jarrahdale are an amazing addition to your breeding crop! We had a horrific drought (for this are, the Ozarks) a few years ago. Months without rain, temps over 100, Japanese beetles in plague proportions.

I had a Jarrahdale that shrugged it all off. I watered it a few times, but mostly left it to its own devices. It spread 50+ feet in each direction and gave me 30 squashes. Vine borers couldn’t keep up with the growth. It just put down roots at the nodes and kept on going. I was so impressed.



I'm very glad to hear that. I have a few of those planted. I think I mainly bought the seeds for the beauty of the squashes, but happy to hear they are hardy plants too. Excited to see how they all do.
 
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The maxima squashes vary greatly in appearance and taste. Roughly I have grown/tasted two major groups: one consists of kabocha, buttercup, red kuri, golden Hubbard etc, they are small, sweet and dense texture; the other one includes galeux d'eysines, Cinderella pumpkin, jarrahdale and maybe blue Hubbard, these are bigger, watery and more suitable for making soup and pie.

Has anyone tried cross pollinating the two groups and what the offsprings would be like?
 
Steve Thorn
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Grace Underwood wrote:Jarrahdale are an amazing addition to your breeding crop! We had a horrific drought (for this are, the Ozarks) a few years ago. Months without rain, temps over 100, Japanese beetles in plague proportions.

I had a Jarrahdale that shrugged it all off. I watered it a few times, but mostly left it to its own devices. It spread 50+ feet in each direction and gave me 30 squashes. Vine borers couldn’t keep up with the growth. It just put down roots at the nodes and kept on going. I was so impressed.



Sounds like some awesome vigor! I think I have that one planted in my mix. Thanks for the info on Jarrahdale Grace!
 
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I'm so happy someone is tackling this challenge!
I absolutely love winter squash, but squash bugs here are so bad, we do well to harvest half of the crop we should have. We love some of the Maxima varieties, but eventually eliminated all but the Moschatas;  b/c of the tough stems they are at least resistant to vine borers.

I can testify to the toughness of Seminole squash. The squash bugs eventually killed the plants, but not before we managed to harvest a large wheelbarrow load of squash. Delicious too!

We are using row cover this year, removing it for just a few hours in the morning for the pollinators, and then covering back up for the rest of the day when squash bugs are most active. I'm hoping this will be effective.

Looking forward to following the progress!
 
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Following this thread to see where this takes you! I'd love to see some maxima squash that can handle the Carolinas.

Moschatas have been good here in SC. I've had a few really good years with butternut. I usually lose a few to those critters that tunnel into the fruit itself, but sometimes the fruit seems to outgrow the bug and "heal" up around it. Is that a thing?

Last year I got one Seminole Pumpkin to maturity, so I'm trying again this year.

I've struck out the few times I've tried growing maximas though. Luckily, it seems I read somewhere long ago about the maximas having trouble in the South, so I didn't take the failure personally.

Good luck and keep us posted!
 
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Here in Austin, TX Tatume is said to do well. I'd like to try Seminole too.
 
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Beverly Howard wrote:Here in Austin, TX Tatume is said to do well. I'd like to try Seminole too.



I'm about halfway between Austin and College Station. I had never heard of Tatume, but Aggie Horticulture even has an article about it. It looks like a great one to grow here. I might try it for the fall garden or if not, then definitely next spring.

I have one Seminole Squash vine that has made one smallish fruit and looks like it is done. We'll see... I just gave all my squash some organic plant food, and it has definitely perked up the summer squash; maybe it'll get the winter squash going again too. This is my first year gardening in this spot, so I think I did not add enough compost to my beds, in general. Next year should be better.
 
Steve Thorn
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I have been very pleasantly surprised by these Maxima squash. Some of the varieties had disease issues or low vigor or were susceptible to vine borers, and died quickly.

However quite a few have been vigorous and disease resistant, with a few being extremely vigorous and extremely disease resistant, and I'm excited to see the offspring from them and how the landrace develops. They have also been extremely drought resistant. We got rain this week fot the first time in a month and a half, with highs averaging in the low 90's during that time. Now that we've gotten some more rain, a lot of the varieties are putting out squash.

Despite the drought and high temperature and humidity, a few have still set some squash, and seem to be extremely tough. I also hope to offer some seeds for sale later this year if anyone is interested, and hopefully they can be helpful for you to develop your own landrace.
 
Steve Thorn
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This first plant has the most squash currently with 3 good sized fruit despite no watering, and a month and a half of no rain, and uncharacteristically high temperatures for this early in the year averaging in the low 90s and going up into the 100s some days.

The fruit started off white or cream colored and has been developing a bluish green coloration that seems to be spreading across the fruit, and I'm guessing will probably eventually cover it. It has an attractive shape and is flatter with distinct ridges. It has been completely bug and rot resistant so far.

The plant has also been extremely disease and pest resistant, and is amazingly vigorous. It also has no appararant damage from either squash bugs or vine borers. It seems to have the wonderful characteristic of putting down vigorous roots at every node that touches the soil, so I'm sure that helps strengthen the plant and help with its awesome vigor. This should also almost make it completely immune to vine borers as each leaf and squash will be in effect its own plant with its own roots. It is currently by far the most vigorous plant with its size alone being at least 18 feet (6 meters) long and 9 feet (3 meters) wide and appears to just be getting started. It has put out a lot of new fruit with the recent rain and seems like it is going to be extremely productive! I can't wait to see how this one progresses!

I'm guessing this one will be a large part of the landrace genetics due to its productiveness and also putting out a lot of male flowers to pollinate the other squash. I may offer seeds for it later this year and will try to put a link here if anyone is interested.
20220713_201711.jpg
I really like the colors on this one
I really like the colors on this one
20220713_201649.jpg
The blue green is covering more on this one
The blue green is covering more on this one
20220713_201607.jpg
This snail �� is just passing through as this squash is naturally bug resistant
This snail is just passing through as this squash is naturally bug resistant
20220716_113159.jpg
Super vigorous currently at 18 feet by 9 feet!
Super vigorous currently at 18 feet by 9 feet!
 
Steve Thorn
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This one has two squash currently on it. I really love the color on this one. Golden yellow has always been one of my favorite colors, and this colored squash just seems to look magical for some reason, like something out of a fairytale. The leaves on this one also have some gold on the edges too, and it was the only one like that. A similar colored one didn't have the gold on the leaves.

It has been vigorous and seems generally disease and pest resistant. The smaller one may have a tiny bit of damage from something, but the larger one is flawless.
Magical-looking-pumpkin.jpg
Magical looking pumpkin
Magical looking pumpkin
Smaller-golden-pumpkin.jpg
Smaller golden pumpkin
Smaller golden pumpkin
 
Steve Thorn
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I'm pretty sure this one is the North Georgia Candy Roaster, known for its high quality flesh and flavor. This one is pretty vigorous and seems to be very disease and pest resistant for the vine.

The squash had some minor damage at the tip from what looked to be bug damage, but it seems to have healed over well and is doing fine now. This one is also sometimes called a banana squash, and when they are small they really do look like a banana laying on the ground.
North-Georgia-Candy-Roaster-Banana-Squash.jpg
North Georgia Candy Roaster Banana Squash
North Georgia Candy Roaster Banana Squash
 
Steve Thorn
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This squash looks like a pumpkin and a watermelon had a baby. Its uniqueness is very intriguing. It is extremely heat, pest, and disease resistant. It's also very vigorous and mainly just one long vine at the moment. It climbed up a tree partially and now back down. I'm really interested to see how this one progresses.
If-a-squash-and-watermelon-fell-in-love....jpg
If a squash and watermelon fell in love...
If a squash and watermelon fell in love...
 
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This last one looks similar to the other golden ones above but is a little flatter. The vine is pretty vigorous and also climbed up the tree, but not as much as the one above, and it is mainly just one long vine at the moment. This fruit is actually a little off the ground and hanging from the tree.
Golden-pumpkin-type-squash-hanging-from-the-tree.jpg
Golden pumpkin type squash hanging from the tree
Golden pumpkin type squash hanging from the tree
 
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Grace Underwood wrote:Jarrahdale are an amazing addition to your breeding crop! We had a horrific drought (for this are, the Ozarks) a few years ago. Months without rain, temps over 100, Japanese beetles in plague proportions.

I had a Jarrahdale that shrugged it all off. I watered it a few times, but mostly left it to its own devices. It spread 50+ feet in each direction and gave me 30 squashes. Vine borers couldn’t keep up with the growth. It just put down roots at the nodes and kept on going. I was so impressed.



I'll have to give that a try in a couple years when I find more room. Kabochas have been our favorite squash for both flavor and texture, but we average less than one fully-mature fruit per plant thanks to the vine borers, despite covering with row cover until flowering, and crushing every egg we could find. Moschatas are all we can grow it seems.
 
Lila Stevens
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Steve Thorn wrote:This first plant has the most squash currently with 3 good sized fruit despite no watering, and a month and a half of no rain, and uncharacteristically high temperatures for this early in the year averaging in the low 90s and going up into the 100s some days.

The fruit started off white or cream colored and has been developing a bluish green coloration that seems to be spreading across the fruit, and I'm guessing will probably eventually cover it. It has an attractive shape and is flatter with distinct ridges. It has been completely bug and rot resistant so far.

The plant has also been extremely disease and pest resistant, and is amazingly vigorous. It also has no appararant damage from either squash bugs or vine borers. It seems to have the wonderful characteristic of putting down vigorous roots at every node that touches the soil, so I'm sure that helps strengthen the plant and help with its awesome vigor. This should also almost make it completely immune to vine borers as each leaf and squash will be in effect its own plant with its own roots. It is currently by far the most vigorous plant with its size alone being at least 18 feet (6 meters) long and 9 feet (3 meters) wide and appears to just be getting started. It has put out a lot of new fruit with the recent rain and seems like it is going to be extremely productive! I can't wait to see how this one progresses!

I'm guessing this one will be a large part of the landrace genetics due to its productiveness and also putting out a lot of male flowers to pollinate the other squash. I may offer seeds for it later this year and will try to put a link here if anyone is interested.



Beautiful photos, as always! I would definitely be interested in buying some seeds when you have them available. I need some of those golden-yellow squash growing in my garden, if they end up tasting good! So cool the variations that appear.
 
May Lotito
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That's one BIG plant. It seems to be standing alone, how do you make sure the flowers get cross pollinated?
 
Steve Thorn
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There are a lot of different ones to the left of it.

And the pollinators on it are amazing, so many different kinds, and they are all going amongst the different plants. I often see three big bumble bees all in one flower, huddled right next to one another all trying to collect their bounty.

I bet some of the squash are self pollinated, which I think it's neat to have a few like this just to see what they are like, while I'm guessing most or at least a majority of them are pollinated by different plants, which will be really fun to see how they turn out!
 
Josh Mayfield
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Aaron Pate wrote:Last year I got one Seminole Pumpkin to maturity, so I'm trying again this year.

I've struck out the few times I've tried growing maximas though. Luckily, it seems I read somewhere long ago about the maximas having trouble in the South, so I didn't take the failure personally.



Looks like I'm your neighbor over in TR, and I can say that our Seminole pumpkins do great with plenty of water.

And we can't really grow Maximas either; we've planted several the past couple years and can only get a couple to full maturity.
 
Steve Thorn
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Josh Mayfield wrote:And we can't really grow Maximas either; we've planted several the past couple years and can only get a couple to full maturity.



Hopefully this landrace will help fix that!

So far I have a few that are super disease and pest resistant and also very productive!
 
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