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Re: "good parents"

Linda Mann asked:

>>	 for us beginners, are there some
>>	easy crosses among widely grown varieties that would give us a high
>>	probability of successfully growing something likeable?

The simple answer is "yes!" for some types.  I can give you a very specific
example, if you are crossing TBs and arilbreds in quest of quarterbreds with

My best TB parent is SOSTENIQUE, so I'd recommend it as a starting point, but
I've also had good luck with other pink-ground patterns like plicatas with
violet stitching on pink ground or bicolors with pink standards.  The "secret"
is that by choosing a variety with pink ground you know you're using one that
does not carry the dominant anthocyanidin inhibitor.  For its arilbred partner,
choose one with a prominent signal.  My best parent to date is TRIBE OF JUDAH,
with KEEP 'EM GUESSING a close second, but I consider any fertile arilbred with
a strong signal to be a good candidate for this type of cross. The genetics of
transmission of aril signals is quite complex -- far beyond the scope of one
message -- but this will improve the odds.  "Trust me." 

About 1 in 10 seedlings of this type goes on my  "watch list" as a candidate for
introduction.  They are really that good but, when I have several sibs with
similar flowers, even though any one of them would be worthy of .introduction I
actually introduce only the best one.  As a result, only about 1 in 100 of these
has actually been introduced.   I do believe, though, that even a beginner would
have a good chance of growing "something likeable" from this type of cross.

But the general answer is not that simple.  This is actually the kind of
question a statistician loves and I have to counter with another question:  what
do YOU consider a "high probability"?   That term has a very different meaning
to those of us working in different areas.  In the above "1 in 10" example the
odds are incredibly high, but it's a special case, a way to obtain a desirable
pattern that has been exceedingly rare.   

I posed a similar question to Henry Danielson when he'd been hybridizing for at
least forty years.  He said that working with TBs he expected to get about one
seedling out of a thousand that would be worthy of introduction,  but that it
had taken him many years to reach that point.  I also remember some interviews
in an old AIS Bulletin that touched on this subject.  I believe that it was
Orville Fay who said that a beginner should expect to grow at least 10,000 TB
seedlings to get to that first introduction.   (Historians, I'm writing this
from memory, please jump in if you can provide a more precise reference!)  I
claim no special expertise in TBs, but from my work with arilbreds I think the 1
in 1,000 and 1 in 10,000 ratios are quite logical.  

Henry's rule of thumb with arilbreds was a range of one in 50 to 100, and I got
the same estimate from two other expert arilbred hybridizers:  Gene Hunt and Tom
Wilkes.  When  I went back and analyzed my own seedling records from the early
years, I found that I'd introduced only two of my first 4,000 seedlings.  When I
analyzed Gene's records for his last 15 years of hybridizing,  I found that the
introductions from each year's crosses did fall in the range between 1 in 50 and
1 in 100. 

In my own program, I finally reached the magic 1 in 100 mark my tenth season of
serious hybridizing. I have not yet approached the 1 in 50 mark, and don't
consider that a goal.  Actually, if I were to introduce more than one out of
50, I would question whether I was being selective enough.  

I'll be interested in learning more about the "odds" of success in other lines.

Sharon McAllister (73372.1745@compuserve.com)

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