Many seeds 2

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The seed corns shown in ‘Many seeds 1’ are not all I harvested this year. Indeed I got about 36690 from 201 different crosses. 26000 seeds were planted very close together, because my heated seed beds are designed for 10000 seed corns . The rest of 10690 shall be planted into the open ground  in the end of September.
Because of these numbers you should not doubt my mind. I think I have a light form of yellow fever only. But you are free to see it in another way.
Some hybridizers to come may be interested in my planting method: The heaters in the picture have 100 watts and hold a minimum temperature of 5 degrees C in the first winter. The soil for the seed is 5 cm peach with a low concentration of salt nutrients (in Germany called TKS 1) and 30 percent of perlite. The seeds are powdered with the fungicide ‘Maneb’ and covered with a little soil. I think the higher temperature in the first winter  is favorable for crosses of species with each other and of standard daffodils with species. For crosses of standard daffodils sowing in the open ground  is possible. The seedlings remain in the beds for three years and are fertilized with a liquid fertilizer during the growing period in intervals of two weeks.

9 comments for “Many seeds 2

  1. Theo, and all,
      Your message gives me heart!  If 201 crosses giving 36,690 seeds to be sown represents “a light form of yellow fever’ then maybe I am almost free of the condition as I have only 8,648 seeds to sow from  182 crosses that yielded seed !!  But maybe not, it’s just that you are so much more successful and obviously get much higher yields of seed than I do and less failed crosses.
       I have a sad tale to tell and I wonder why it is so poor by comparison? In summary :-
            Total crosses made – 342 inc. SxS; SxSp; SxM; SxI; Sp.xSp; Sp.xS; Sp.x M; Sp.xI etc.
            Standard crosses  –  81 which yielded 3304 seeds
            Misc. crosses  – 102 which yielded 5,344 seeds
      Failed crosses    – 160
      I have not yet totalled the numerous envelopes of Species OP seeds – but I fear there are too many!!!
       I am almost ashamed to admit these figures but though I say I wondey y they are so bad I think I know many of the answers eg.
     1) I am often late in pollinating flowers – in two ways, either pollen or stigmas are past potent or receptive best.
          Running to shows and all the time required to cut and select blooms is largely to blame. Photography is also a time consuming exercise fighting for priority. Yellow fever attacks from many angles!
      2)I make many experimental intersectional (hope!) crosses – a great majority fail!
          I am aware that this is a risk/reward exercise and I find that when in the shed it is quicker to just make the cross than to go and research if it is likely to be viable – a better memory would help!! 
      3)  Many crosses are made in cold weather – Oct – March, when no insects are flying!!
      4)  Weather conditions, or is it specifically ‘light brightness’  generally are not conducive to high fertility.
          I often hear of varieties producing seed in other regions that never make seed  in Northern Ireland.
      I am open to suggestions as to how I can improve, bearing in mind my known limitations. I think my pollen application by direct ‘scraping’ from anther to pistil is efficient.
      For years I have kept labels of failed crosses and intended to record them in an easy reference format – the old adage – …. is paved with good intentions.
        I’m envious of those who have their seeds planted… other distractions always seem to keep me late – or latish! I’ve learned that after Sptember germination in the first year suffers.
        I’ve been intrigued by the revelations by other Daffnet correspondents  – Harold K; Michael B. Leone L et al. It seems there may be some exciting things to be found in seedling beds in the next 3-5 years. And that’s not forgetting what is happening in the Southern hemisphere – where they have probably ‘tolen a march’on us?Brian Duncan

  2. Hi Brian and Theo and others,


    I am very impressed with all the crosses and seed count.  Question – how do you arrive at your final seed count – surely not by counting every individual seed?  Do you weigh a sample and then calculate?  I’d be interested to know.


    For my part I make only 100 crosses or less.  Very seldom more than one flower of a cross, although usually both ways.  Nowadays I check Daffseek to see if the parents are viable and also to check their breeding as well as their descendants.  As you know I line breed mostly but also will make a cross if the two flowers look good together.


    I would have to say that planting out 36,000 bulblets at two years would be a nightmare – or perhaps you broadcast them. Very interesting – I am pleased and proud that both of you are colleague members of the National Daffodil Society of NZ!


    Cheers to all


     From a frustrated Peter where the season is now three weeks in advance of “normal”, and whose fridges are now jam packed with flowers and the national is still two weeks away.   




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  3. Peter,
    For my article in last year’s RHS Yearbook I calculated that Brian already had a potential 70 pages in the next Daffodil Register. Add what we have read from Harold, Graeme Fleming, Theo and others it is mind boggling.
  4. I haven’t weighed in on this conversation  up to now, but I have to comment about seed counting.
    I have seen all of Brian Duncan’s hybridizing records from the very beginning.  They are incredibly organized, efficiently categorized, and impeccably accurate down to the specific seed count on every cross and every o.p. pod collected. I don’t think it was ever Brian’s intention to tally these details, but having recorded them for whatever reason, allows him to do that, as well as making comparisons from year to year and flower to flower.  This information could be helpful in ways down the road that he never imagined in the very beginning.  Now that years have gone by and so many crosses have been made, it is, truly, amazing to see the actual number of seeds that have been produced tallied up. 
    I can’t imagine Brian broadcasting anything but good will and affection.  I’m sure he plants out as carefully and methodically as he does everything else.  Brian’s hybridizing work and record keeping methods are a marvel and an inspiration to any of the rest of us who are just beginning to make a stab at pollen daubing. 
    Chriss Rainey
  5. Seed planters,
      What Chriss did not say is that she and Spencer designed a computer programme that refined my manual records and they even filled in all the details from 1964, when I started keeping records, until about 2006. Alas, I know  I’ve been such a disappointment to them in that I have not kept the computer records up to date – but some cold wet winter I’ll get around to it. Then all sorts of analysis will be possible – meantime I apologise to Spencer and Chriss  – they know the level of my computer skills so I hope they forgive me after their Herculean effort to bring me into the 21st Century.
      I hope the advocation of  ‘Line breeding’ does not go out and be accepted as a general recommendation. Peter and I have crossed swords on this before and we are poles apart. There are two sides to the story, I appreciate the ‘rapid’ benefits towards specific targets, but longer term I have witnessed the negative effects in cattle breeding (and indeed in daffodil breeding); – and need we need look no further than all the recent publicity into breeding of dogs for show purposes!! 
      With standard daffodils line breeding happens unconsciously in any case – Daffnet pedigree records will illustrate that point.. I confess I do not specifically avoid ‘line breeding’, but by trying  to cross  the ‘best with the best’  I am hopeful  that there will be sufficient ‘outbreeeding’ to ensure appropriate plant vigour. I think exhibition daffodils should also be garden daffodils.
       In species, particularly with N. triandrus, which tends to be ephemeral, I think we need to outcross in an effort to get seedlings with staying power, combined with the intrinsic beauty of the triandrus species.
      I’ve found the whole ‘Seed’ discussion intriguing – it’s good to know I’m not the only person out there whose sanity might be questioned by wives and wider family!!
  6. Hello All,


    The district we live in is sometimes referred to as the Kentucky of the South – it is the main area of bloodstock breeding.  Having friends in the racing industry has made me very aware of the merits (and of course demerits) of line breeding, which is NOT to be confused with inbreeding.  I did note that not all of my crosses are line bred – if two flowers look good together then I make the cross. My results  demonstrate that good flowers come from both methods but that there is a better chance of  success if a line has been established.


     There is a very real danger as Brian notes of getting too close to inbreeding.  However I continue to be interested in pedigrees – otherwise we may as well leave the work to the bees – indeed I collect more open pollinated seed than I should but have never had a result like Queen’s Guard!  Damn!  And goodness knows that I used Pontes often enough in my crosses.


    I agree entirely with Brian’s point on show varieties becoming good garden varieties.  Earlier I posted a photo of John Lea’s Loch Loyal and Loch Hope flowering beautifully under trees.  Their pedigrees are perfect examples of what can be achieved with line breeding and there is no doubting their vigour.  


    For those with limited time and ground I still recommend  that breeders study pedigrees and establish a line – as Brian notes we are probably doing this unwittingly anyway.  But with that wonderful tool of Daffseek we are given the time to check out pedigrees in a split second!  And we even have photos to see if the two sets of grandparents look good together!


    Flowers continue to rush into bloom.  The sun is shining and there will be blooms waiting to be pollinated!








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  7. Well, I must sheepishly admit that I really do not know a good definition of line breeding.  I might have thought I understood, but the recent comments make me wish had I some more exact comprehension of what would distinguish line breeding from inbreeding.  If someone has time to post a brief explanation, I’d be most grateful.

  8. Peter,
    I did anticipate a spirited response and you don’t disappont. Between us I think we have aired both sides of the story sufficiently for breeders to decide – I’d only add that ‘line’ and ‘in’ breeding can easily be confused  – continuous ‘line breeding almost inevitably leads to a sort of ‘in’ breeding and the distinction gets blurred.
    But enough on this subject – from private e-mails I gather we already have confused a few people – we can further debate personally sometime when we meet.
  9. I suspect that the best explanations of of line breeding and inbreeding can be found in books by animal breeders.  They don’t have to wait 4-8 years for the results of the previous cross.
    However, I vaguely recall an example of inbreeding in dogs.
    ‘Sunshine’ (I think) was a great Sheltie.  However, when someone said that a dog was “seven times Sunshine'”
     they meant that his breeder selected the best female puppy each year and bred her to him, bred the best female in that litter back to him, etc.,and he would be on the pedigree as sire for seven generations..  Line breeding would involve outcrosses every so often.  I’m told that the puppies were gorgeous, but they spent a lot of time running in small circles.
    Leone Low


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