One Member's Record Keeping

I wrote an article titled

It is very frustrating to see the parentage of a rose listed as seedling x seedling or Queen Elizabeth x seedling. I think most times it is because of some sort of paranoia of the breeder in not wanting to reveal the parentage of their roses. Other times I think it is because the breeder really doesn

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Thanks John and Paul! I know that many of us rose breeders are of the obsessive-compulsive type!

Even with the best intentions, there are some situations where data is lost (snails that eat the paper tags denoting the pollen parent). Also, on occasion, I do use mixed pollen. Usually in those cases I try to use two very different pollen parents so that seedling parentage is easier to guess - for example one striped pollen parent, mixed with a yellow pollen parent. I do this particularly when one of the pollen parents is of lower fertility, but I don’t want to waste time making crosses that are going to fail (when just the lower fertility pollen parent is used).

The RHA booklets are an excellent resource for anyone interested in rose breeding. Best wishes!

Jim Sproul

Still about the topic, but slightly askew…last Sunday, I had the pleasure of delivering my tribute to Ralph Moore at the Tenth Great Rosarians of the World at The Huntington. David Austin had been chosen to receive the award, but, unfortunately, had to miss attending due to illness. He contracted the flu but has been battling cancer for the past year or so. Michael Marriott accepted it for him.

I included the portion of how unfortunate it is some breeders do not include parentages in their information. Perhaps some don’t know, while others may feel it would give the competition a leg up on them. Michael listened for when he gave his presentation, he mentioned what I had said and showed that in most cases, they do know them as they are computer tracked, though some get lost along the way.

I also quoted Ralph’s saying, “create a good plant first, it’s always easy to hang a pretty flower on it later”. Again, Michael listened. He stated at the Austin Nursery, their first priority is their preconceived “certain look”. The rose has to conform to the “look” they want. Second, is fragrance; third is beautiful flower, with health somewhere down the list. He said, “of course, it has to have acceptable health”, but their prime goals are “the look”, fragrance, pretty face then health.

With what they have introduced, I wonder just how many really GOOD plants have been sacrificed for “the look”?

I wonder this about a lot of breeders work. Especially those dealing with hybrid teas. Hell we find this with everything man has ever bred. How many good vegetable plants have not made the trade because they were the wrong color. I guess it is a fade thing. Like how single roses are some how inferior to non singles or corn has to be yellow and ectra…

I do wish certain breeders would make records. It seems the most interesting plants are a lot of times not listed. It does not bother me when I know its from a breeder that usually list his or her work. I just figure in these cases either he lost the records or its one of his few secrets. The thing that bothers me is when the plant has been on the market for fifteen years or more; at this point I think they got enough of a head start and really the justification of keeping it secret seems to me at least not there anymore.

Has anyone put together a database application (MS Access or similar) to manage crosses?

Don, I have used MS Access some, but prefer MS Excel.

One thing that I often find myself wishing is that I would keep more complete records on each new seedling that is kept for outdoor evaluation. I do this for the “best” of each year, but there are many that I don’t make detailed notes or photograph that are given an outdoor chance. These often “change” enough that I don’t easily recognize them.

Kim, I am sorry that I didn’t get to hear your tribute to Mr. Moore. Can you share it on the Forum? Or was it recorded?

Adam, regarding “secrets”, I think that keeping parentage secret is unimportant, particularly where seedlings are being used. The odds are strongly against getting anything nearly the same for anyone trying to mimic someone else’s strategy. I’ll often keep several seedlings from the same cross. When these are used in similar crosses, the results are very different from one another. Your own seedlings even when parentage is known/published are your own “secret ingredients”. I love crossing seedlings with each other because you tend to produce a more mixed bag in the offspring.

Jim Sproul

I recall a talk by Tom Carruth, Weeks Roses, a few years ago whe someone asked him a question about giving the parentage data on his roses. He said that by the time that it was introduced, he had been working with it for 10 years! That is from the cross, thru the growing, the trials, etc, etc. So he said there was not reason to keep “secret” now what he had used years ago. The odds of coming up with the same rose after making the identical cross are as Jim mentions.

I only keep initial records to look back at that year as a whole. What little I keep, I have memorized by heart. And what I use, I memorize the effectiveness and efficiency by heart. I do not think it is much different than a lot of things in horticulture. For example regarding pruning, you memorize the patterns required by heart. Hybridizing is not that much different to me than that. It has just as many patterns in time and space as pruning does.

Jim, the tribute was printed in the Winter issue of the RHA newsletter. If you didn’t get it, I’ll be happy to email it to you.

When I started hybridizing I kept more complete records. Now that I have my technique worked out I no longer find much of the information useful.

I was initially trying to determine the best time to complete each step for my climate.

I’m continually culling as things become redundant, less useful or when disease problems are discovered. Parentages are about the only thing that is preserved.

Mixing pollen is problematic. I don’t do it frequently. I find it often difficult to sort offspring. Even when parentages are disparate determining hybridity can be daunting.