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Seedling Numbering Systems

Jim Schroetter wrote:

:	My main request is that some of the seasoned hybridizers on the list 
:  share their ideas for proper, useful numbering/naming systems for seedlings. 
:  If your system is, shall we say, "PROPRIETARY", don't divulge all of it; just

:  give up some ideas on some components of a useful format. Although I have 
:  some ideas, why not ask the pros and avoid the pitfalls? ;-)

For a more detailed discussion, I'd suggest reading my article in the July 1992
AIS Bulletin.  But here's a quick overview for our non-AIS members:

The purpose of a numbering system is to uniquely identify the clone.  As long as
it does this, I don't think that any system is "proper" or "improper", "right"
or "wrong".  It's just a question of what works well for the individual
hybridizer.  What _you_ want to be able to get out of a number alone.  (BTW, I
don't consider my system "PROPRIETARY", but it has evolved over the years.
Anyone who has questions about any of my seedling numbers should feel free to
ask them.)

When I first started hybridizing, I used the Wilkes' system.   The main
advantage:  the seedling "number" itself carries complete pedigree information
because the letters are abbreviations of the names of the parents.  All sibs,
even those from different pods or different years, carry the same cross
designation.  The letters describe the cross itself, then Tom & Wiloh assigned a
clone number when each seedling bloomed.  For example:  KB-KG2 was the second
seedling to bloom from Wiloh's cross of Kalifa Baltis X Kalifa Gulnare.
KBKG2-EQ was Gene Hunt's cross of KB-KG2 with Esther the Queen, and KBKG2EQ-TS
was his cross of KBKG2-EQ with Tuesday Song.  This is very convenient for the
hybridizer, who needs only a memory jog, and can be useful to anyone who is
familiar with the line.  I think this is still useful to someone working on a
small scale, and if you tour my garden you'll see Wilkes' style abbreviations
added to many of my garden labels.

I changed to a numbering system when I started computerized my records:
Year-Cross-Clone.   At first, I waited to assign a clone number until the
seedlings bloomed.  As the most vigorous plants tend to bloom first, and a plant
has to be vigorous to merit introduction, most of my before-1990 seedlings that
have been introduced have very low clone numbers.   (Of course, vigor is
necessary --  but it is _not_ sufficient.  There were also a lot that grew like
weeds, looked like weeds, and suffered the fate of weeds.)

In 1990, I modified that system, assigning both cross numbers and clone numbers
when I lined out the seedlings in the seedling bed.  This makes for easier
record keeping, keys to garden location and helps me get acquainted with the
newcomers.   But it also means that there's less information to be gleaned from
the seedling number.   

For example, let's take a look at two of my 1996 introductions:  WANNABEE
(88-5-1) and KISS OF HONEY (91-36-11).  If you were not familiar with my system,
you might think that KIS OF HONEY must be the better grower  to merit
introduction so quickly.  But if you were accustomed to associating low clone
numbers with vigor, you'd expect WANNABEE to be stronger.   

WANNABEE was numbered under the older system.  It was designated clone #1
because it was the first to bloom and it turned out to be the most vigorous
clone of its cross, as well as having a striking & uniquely patterned flower.
Actually, it was vigorous enough to have been introduced several years ago, had
it not required fertility tests to determine its classification.  Just looking
at the year of the cross, you might expect it to be a slow grower -- but in this
case you'd be  wrong.    

KISS OF HONEY is seedling 91-36-11.  Yes, it's both a vigorous grower and
reliable bloomer to be selected for introduction so quickly.  In this case, the
clone number means nothing more than that it happened to be the eleventh
planting position when it was lined out.  

More than you wanted to know?  <G>

Sharon McAllister (73372.1745@compuserve.com)

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