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 (email@example.com)