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TPB, some more thoughts, and a wish list

  • Subject: TPB, some more thoughts, and a wish list
  • From: "Roth, Barry" BRoth@BROBECK.COM
  • Date: Wed, 18 Sep 2002 22:57:16 -0700

The original The Pelargonium Breeder ("TPB") was conceived mainly as a way
for practicing breeders to communicate among themselves (at a time,
remember, when there was no Internet, and some of its content was casual
trip reports and tidbits, items that would be very much at home on an
Internet list today).  There is no question that a beginning, or aspiring,
or "armchair" breeder would find much of interest there, but the main thrust
was not to educate newcomers in the basics.

As a past (and potentially future) breeder of pelargoniums, let me suggest
some things that I think a revived TPB would be in a unique position to

--A formal data set and vocabulary for the reporting of features of
particular pelargonium taxa or cultivars.  This is essential for workers to
be able to communicate.  Standardized color terminology for flowers and
leaves would just be a start (and I have some ideas on that which do not
involve the RHS color chart, etc.); other observable characters should also
be defined, such as, for flowers, number of petals, extent of petal overlap
(or gap between), length and width of upper petals, same for lower petals;
formal meanings for, e.g., tall, medium, and short plant habit, specific to
a species and based on performance under standardized conditions; and so

--Reliable descriptions of species and cultivars of interest, expressed with
objectivity in this standard vocabulary.

--Reports of breeding results -- not just anecdotes from a couple of casual
crosses,* but something like "out of 30 seedlings from this orange seed
parent and white pollen parent, 2 bloomed out white, 25 salmon, and 3
orange."  In other words, reports that will help a breeder learn about the
heritability of certain characters and know what to expect from a cultivar
if he or she uses it as a breeding parent.  (Thirty seedlings is not a
random number in the example above.  To be assured of getting a seedling
that combined the recessive alleles of two independently inheriting genes,
under simple Mendelian inheritance, one could logically expect to have to
rear 30 or more individuals.)

--Reports of growth trials, again to help fully characterize hybrids and
cultivars, so a breeder can choose knowledgeably for parentage.  Some of the
most interesting trials might involve comparison of two or more similar
cultivars grown side by side:  which performed better, and in what ways.  I
almost think such comparative trials should be demanded before a new
cultivar is released on the public.  A new introduction should be *at least
as good* as the most similar varieties already in the trade, and should
preferably excel in some areas where the others come up short.

--Information regarding "failures" or experiments that failed to live up to
the breeder's expectations would be interesting too -- although it may be
human nature not to want to publicize one's false starts and bumblings.
(I'm also aware that some breeders may hold many of their results to be
proprietary, and I consider that understandable.)

I won't try to comment on organization with respect to the IGS, but I do
think this represents a distinct niche that would be of interest to some,
but possibly of no interest to many, and the question is whether the latter
group should be expected to support this specialized effort.



*Not that I think there is anything wrong, necessarily, with casual crosses.
Only that the information for larger data sets is more likely to be of
widespread and lasting use.

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