Speeding up grow cycle via Breeding

In my previous post about starting a breeding program I mentioned that you should always be ruthless in the plants you select of your breeding program. Don't get mired in meritocracy.  I also said that you should observe your plants through all stages of growth as you make your selection for which plant(s) will be the parent(s) of your breeding line.
Another way to speed up the growth cycle is with your breeding program.  Most people pick the biggest, best tasting crops to put in a breeding program, consider looking at the rate of germination and time until flowering as traits to select for.  Remeber that faster flowering does not always mean increased or good yields.  Decide what is most important for you.

There is some genetic determination in how long it takes a seed to germinate.  What this means is that if you pick the first seeds that germinate as a trait as you breed you will see shorter and shorter germination times. You can speed up  the growth cycle by breeding for other traits: the fastest growing plants, the first to flower, or finish flowering or to produce seeds will have a genetic factor (genes) that gives them this trait.
One characteristic I personally have chosen in a breeding program is early flowering. For several generations I picked the first plants to flower as the pollen donor and recipient as the primary trait I was breeding for. I did this because I wanted my plants to flower before the end of the semester. After a few semesters I had many plants that would be done flowering two weeks before the end of a 16 week semester! The problem was these fast flowering plants were shorter, had smaller flowers and were not as nice as other flowers that took longer to flower. The lesson here is that while choosing plants that flower early will speed up the growth cycle, you may sacrifice other traits like color, smell or even yield. When you are breeding make sure you choose the most important traits to you, but keep in mind things like time to flower, size etc. I have crossed a big beautiful flower with an early flower in order to have big flowers that finish early. I hope to let you know of my success.

Good Breeding,

Dr. E.R. Myers

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