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Re: Breeders' Rights

halinar@open.org wrote:

> Without going into the details (unless you want to) of how many plants
> you sold at what price and how much you ended up making, what is a
> general ball park figure that you feel comfortable making on a new
> hosta that you hybridized and how many plants do you like to have
> available for sale when you introduce something?

I don't think there is an answer for that.  It depends on the plant and
how it's going to be introduced.  I can only tell you that I started
selling Satisfaction in 1995 when I had 10 plants to sell.  The price was

I think your next statement is much more interesting.

> I ask this because I have a Francee sport that is looking quite
> impressive.  However, I'm not into hostas big time like many others on
> this robin are and my own inclination would be to propagate this one
> untill I had maybe a thousand plants and was able to maintain a
> production level of 1000 plants per year and then to sell it wholesale
> after a few years retail, or sell it to other established growers and
> let them do all the customer relations work.  It seems to me that it
> really isn't that difficult to come up with some nice hostas if you
> keep a sharp eye out for interesting seedlings or sports showing up in
> propagation stock.

I've been hybridizing for over 10 years and have introduced a total of 4
seedlings and two sports.  A couple of these would never have left my
nursery if people hadn't kept asking me for them.  I'm very happy with
Sergeant Pepper now, but I had it for many years before I decided it was
good enough to introduce.  Either I'm not very good at this or our
standards are very different.  I have a number of seedlings that I will
probably introduce in the future, but I think it is very difficult to come
up with a plant that is worthy of introduction.

> I could have easily sold this sport to a neighbor
> nurseyman who sells to the mass murchant garden centers who would have
> then easily sold it to Wal-Mart and then YOU could have easily
> observered that it was something special and then you would be making
> all the big bucks selling it instead of me!

Our market is very different.  My guess is that when you say you're going
to sell 1000 a year, you're not talking about selling in the same price
range that I would introduce a new plant, and you are not selling to the
same people.  No offense to the people you are selling to, but most mass
marketers, and most of the nurserymen who grow for them, wouldn't look at
a hosta as critically as my customers.  You can put a good name on a plant
and tell them it's a great new introduction, and as long as it's pretty,
and as long as you don't charge much for it, they'll probably buy it.  My
guess is that I could take a large plant of Antioch to our local Home
Depot grower and tell him it was a new plant I hybridized, and as long as
the price was right, sell him a bunch of them.  To him, hostas are just
another perennial. He doesn't grow Antioch, has probably never seen one,
and wouldn't have any idea that this beautiful plant was just an old,
ordinary hosta.

Obviously without seeing your plant I have no idea of its value, and
there's no reason that a sport of Francee couldn't be a teriffic plant,
like Patriot. But from your statement that it's not hard to come up with a
nice plant, I would surmise that it is not revolutionary.  Unless it is, I
think you would have a hard time selling it to serious collectors, simply
because fortunei sports are so common.

To me, collecting hostas is much the same as collecting stamps.  The post
office probably sold 10 billion Elvis stamps, and probably seven of them
went to serious collectors.  And for as long as people collect stamps, the
Elvis stamp is never going to be worth anything. It's not even worth
enough to mail a letter today.

On the other hand, the seedling that I am most proud of, out of all the
thousands I have grown, your neighbor nurseryman probably wouldn't give me
two cents for.  That's because it's green.  And as magnificent as I think
it is, totally unbiased of course, the average WallMart customer wouldn't
give it a second look.  I hope to introduce it at the 2003 convention, and
from the reaction of the people who saw my original plant at this year's
convention, I don't think I'll have any problem selling a few.

> When I look at hostas today I see them being somewhere where daylilies
> were not too long ago.  Today there is a flood of daylilies on the
> market and there isn't all that much difference in many of them, and
> there is a lot of junk being introduced.  When I go down and visit
> Charlie Purtymun and look at all the hostas he has I have to wonder
> how some of this stuff ever escaped the compost pile.  Some
> hybridizers should be rewarded for their efforts, but some hybridizers
> really shouldn't be rewarded at all.

That's the way of the world.  The good ones will survive in the collectors
gardens, some Walmart grower will still be growing Aztec Gold a hundred
years from now, and most will simply disappear.  I wonder if when I see
your Francee sport, or you see my green hosta, we will agree on where we


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