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Seedling discussion

     Ladies and Gentlemen, good evening. I would like to entertain a
discussion of seedlings. I have 64 batches of seedlings under lights as we
speak. I say batches because there are all manner of types, sources, some
duplication. There are crosses, streaks, species, hybrids, F1 through F6 in
generation and even 4 batches of irradiated seed. This is the most I have
ever had. I know many of you have had thousands presently, and in the past. I
am making observations that haven't been so apparent in the past, I think
just because of the number and variety.
     Are there any conclusions that can be drawn for future expectations of
a particular variety simply from fertility or germination rate? My extremes
are 5% to best rate of 82%. One batch of Christmas Tree Gala gave me exactly
one seedling. An incredible little Princess. If there were 100+ in that batch
I think I would have picked her. Beautiful leaf form, nice substance,
beautifully balanced Periclinal chimera. Can I deduce anything simply because
it was the only one to germinate, not considering any other factors?
     Some batches are extremely slow growing others want jump out of the
flats and run to the garden. I am not trying to be simplistic here. Those of
you that have produced hundreds of thousands (or even 1 thousand) of
seedlings in the overall scheme of things how much weight is placed on this
one consideration of growth rate and vigor?
     Survivability, hardiness, Some batches had a high mortality rate,
lethal factor with white leaves, generally weak spindly appearance, seemed
more susceptible to wilting or damping off, slow growing, appears to have an
inherent weaknesses in the cross. Do I trash a batch like this or keep the
best and cross in some strength in the future? Some incredible genes here.
The batch with all the white leaves I wouldn't take a gift of BUT inherent
gene potential is undetermined without future crosses. There could be
something magic in the future. I don't expect for a minute to have anyone
make my decisions for me BUT how do you good people make these hard choices?
     How much does "pretty" count? In one batch there are seven golds (out
of 103) that have the cutest perfect round leaves (as if formed with a
compass), nothing else of striking merit, well, for golds they are growing as
fast or faster than the greens in the batch.
     I asked some of these questions a while back and I received a few great
responses (Thankyou Joe and Mary and others), I was hoping some more of you
"sowers of seed" (thanks Narda) would care to comment. I learn from almost
every posting and I am especially hungry tonight. It's 12:01 am and I just
came upstairs from playing with all the green and yellow and gold and blue
and lots of variegation under the lights (still 6-8 inches of snow to melt
here) and was hoping someone else was having as much fun as I was and would
care to post it.

                                                   Jim Towle......

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