Sunday, September 11, 2011

Joy In the Midst of Harvest

Harvesting rose hips, especially thousands of them, is not my idea of having a fun time.  However, this past week I have discovered that my previously, nearly completely uncooperative, best Hulthemia, has turned out to be a very good pollen parent this year.

This Hulthemia seedling bears the largest, most heat stable blotch that I have seen to date. Additionally, it is one a the cleanest seedlings that I have.  However, it has never set a hip, and up until this year, its code name "M62", was the most frequent code that I saw on the tags of failed pollinations lying on the ground.  In fact, the first year that I used it as a pollen parent, there were no hips collected.  Last year I collected only 20 hips from all of the crosses that I made with it.  There were a total of only 72 seeds extracted and just 27 seedlings that sprouted.  Several of these have superior blotches and will be kept for further evaluation.

This year, I am not yet finished harvesting and already have more than 100 hips collected where M62 was used as a pollen parent.

So what made the difference?  I am not certain, but wonder whether the unusually cooler spring weather allowed better pollen production, or perhaps the temperatures were more conducive to producing successful pollinations.  In addition to the better success with M62, I have noted that this year several less cooperative roses are showing an increased number of open pollinated hips.

The photos below are of M62.  The first photo shows the very first bloom on the immature seedling, the second is a later mature bloom, and the final photo was taken outside this year in late July, showing its blotch's very good heat stability. It can be seen that the blotch occupies more than 50% of the petal. Many of the crosses this year were with striped seed parents, so hopefully there will be several striped Hulthemias in the upcoming batch of seedlings.