Well, this is the type of discussion that can get ‘religious’, like Mac vs PC and Pepsi vs Coke. That said, here are my two cents.
When I first started I did the same thing you are setting about. I’m a relational database developer so it seemed logical and I had the resources so it seemed to be a no-brainer.
I’ll skip the evolution but I eventually realized that I was spending way too much time with record keeping and it occurred to me that my time would be better spent ‘doing’ rather than ‘recording’.
I had come to rely on helpmefind.com for data about potential breeders and it made more sense to just keep that website open in a tab or two than to duplicate the data locally for every rose I was interested in. In fact, by paying the nominal subscription fee I was able to cut down on keystrokes and save time in that regard as well, especially when drilling down in the lineages.
I also realized that, because of the complexity of most of the genetics, recording traits of breeders was not useful. Rather, by studying this forum and the newsletters, helpmefind and various research papers and books I was able to settle on a few goals and choose appropriate breeders to accomplish those goals.
I now put my effort into recording crosses that I made and how many seeds and seedlings they yield so I can put my effort where it seemed to be fruitful.
So I now keep simple spreadsheets rather than a relational database and track only identities and productivity metrics. Here are the column headings.
Table 1, Cultivars
I used to assign accession numbers (abstract keys) to my breeders but that meant remembering numbers to record crosses, it is easier and more informative to use just the cultivar name.
Table 2, Crosses
Accession, Male, Female, Pollinations, Date, Comments
where Male and Female are just the names of the cultivars used to make the cross.
Accession numbers do make sense for crosses and seedlings but I switch to using the name if I like the seedling enough to give it a name. The accession number for a seedling is the accession number of the cross from which it resulted with a serial number appended. Thus the cross assigned with Accession Number 502 had seedlings assigned with seedling accession numbers 502-1, 502-2, etc.
I used to also keep track of the number of germinations in the Crosses table but moved to using a separate spreadsheet for tracking seedlings. Moreover, I usually extract embryos rather than plant seeds directly so I track the number of seeds, the number of embryos, the number of embryos that germinate and the number of those that make it into the garden.
Traits that I considered when developing my breeding strategy included
- anthocyanin ancestry
- carotenoids ancestry
- cresting genes
- crisp petals
- disease resistant ancestry
- floriferousness potential
- highly fragrant
- large petals
- mini ancestry
- moss genes
- polypetally genes
- pronounced cupids bow petals
- remontancy genes
- rosacyanin potential
- species content
- winged thorns
Rather than track these traits in a table against individual cultivars, once I settled on breeding targets I chose a breeding stable based on what I learned. It’s an open ended dynamic process.
My personal opinion is that the most important thing you can do as a sole proprietor with limited time and resources is to focus your attention on a narrow breeding objective and stick to it. You don’t need a database for that.