Home33 forum General discussion forum Speed-Selecting Peony Seedlings.

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      As some may know, my seedlings are located 150 miles from my home. It’s a tiring three hour drive across the mountains to get to them.  I drove over the day before yesterday, and after I arrived, we went through a block of 500 seedlings, and judged them all in about four hours.  Which works out to about 30 seconds or less per plant.

      It was interesting how being exhausted, and having time constraints tends to focus the mind, when there are so many objective factors to take into consideration.  Buds on big doubles not opening well – get rid of that one.  Nice, but it sprawls – that one goes too.  Flowers out of proportion with the plant – One more to toss out.  Good flower, but weak grower. Inadequate bud covers that don’t keep out the rain.

      How about this big row of ones we selected two seasons ago, and that now we have 4 or 5 each of ?  How did we ever think they were good to begin with ?  Maybe they became *too* double once we grew them from division, or perhaps they just didn’t like the heat over the weekend ?   Whatever the case, a customer wouldn’t like how they look at this moment, so after 8 years of dealing with them from initial germination, let’s get rid of them all.

      Boom, boom, boom – Not this one, not this one, but let’s give this one one more chance.   Carol has the book, and writes down the decisions. “Are you keeping up with me ?”   “Yes” she says, and a few seconds later we’re on to the next.

      When one *must* get rid of so many, there’s a certain amount of relief in doing it so quickly.  Now the sun is low in the sky, and we’re getting close to the end.  I need dinner, and I really need the bed at the hotel.

      Perhaps it’s actually better doing selection in this spur-of-the moment sort of way,  based on our immediate impressions ?  I suspect it might be.  Whatever the case, I was somewhat surprised that it could be done so rapidly, and with some level of confidence too.

      The next day was a bit different.  I was a bit less tired, and had more time to spend out with the plants. “Oh dear : I hope we saved this one ! ”  And did we save all the ones that had looked so good at my first visit last week, when bloom was first starting and before to the big heat wave ?  I seem to remember a bunch of good ones in this row, but where have they gone now, now that things have developed further ?  It was all such a blur from the evening before that I just couldn’t remember.

      But I was willing to trust that we’d made good decisions, so I left it at that.

      And then the several hundred in next year’s block , that are having their very first flowers, that we’ll be passing judgment on next year.

      No stress involved there, so let’s just be happy, and delight at the hints of their future.

      Bob Johnson

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