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From: "John Montgomery" <monashee@junction.net>

> From: "Randy C. Meuir" <rmeuir@mail.coin.missouri.edu>
> best thing I could try to do was breed for survivors. I felt to do this I
> should kill off nonsurvivors prior to seeing them bloom. I did not know
> if I would be able to let a beautiful flower die if the plant was disease
> prone. I found that I could let them die after seeing some of my first
> selected seedlings (from 1994 crosses-when I was still pampering) rot. 
I think that Randy has a good point here. My experience with iris 
breeding was published last year on the back of a postage stamp 
but I have had some experience with lily breeding. It has always 
seemed to be much simpler to produce a good flower than it is to 
breed out disease susceptibility. As a consequence I look very 
closely at the stems and foliage of new seedlings and if they show 
any botrytis in particular, I trash them before I ever see the bloom. 
That eliminates the temptation to coddle a pretty wimp. If it shows 
virus symptoms unless it very heavy, I will leave it in place. The 
reason for this is to try and find virus tolerance which seems to be 
easier to get than total resistance (if such exists.)  Another reason 
is to make sure that there is lots of virus pressure in the seedling 
beds. This will ensure that the seedlings are exposed to disease.

Now while I practice tough love with the yearlings, I do pamper the 
new seedlings. I am not convinced that a slow weaker seedling will 
necessarily develop into a wimpy plant. I find that some of the good 
ones are slow starters and I do not want them to succumb to the 
law of the jungle too early in life. There is one exception, and that 
involves a close examination of the bulblets when they are 
transplanted or planted out to the field. The slightest sign of bulb 
rot is sufficient to get that bulb chucked out.

In summary, after trying to give them all a fair start, I become a 
predator in the seedling beds. I am sure that I compost many 
unseen and beautiful flowers but bringing the healthy ones along is 
enough work for me without trying to keep losers alive.

Michael Greenfield expressed some worry that we were going to be 
producing plants with good foliage with ugly flowers. The flower is 
still the ultimate decider but for me at least, it is the last 
characteristic which I evaluate. These are methods which I feel 
comfortable with.

John Montgomery
Vernon  BC  Zone 5

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