Seed World

What Was Happening in 1960?

This cover features a helicopter, operated by Whirl-Wide Helicopters of Fresno, Calif., spraying fields near Atascadero to help control broadleaf weeds on Oct. 14, 1960. The Hiller 12-E helicopter has a downwash exceeding 2 million cubic feet per minute. The sun’s rays show why helicopters are more effective than regular planes for spraying — the swirling spray indicates the force of the downwash that literally beats spray or dust into crops so that all surfaces are blanketed. Inside this issue, readers learned about methods for creating pollen-sterile hybrid seed, trends in packaging and tips for increasing sales during the holidays.
5.7 million pounds is the amount of total seed imported in August 1960, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That’s down considerably from the 12.3 million pounds imported in August 1959.
10,000 members of the garden supply and associated industries are expected to visit the Mid-America Lawn, Garden and Outdoor Living Trade Show in Chicago, Ill., Nov. 13-15.
20 percent of total garden center sales are made between Nov. 15 and Dec. 31.
1 million pounds of Kentucky bluegrass is expected to be produced for the 1960 crop year.
$1.40 per bushel is the price of most seed oat varieties in Louisville, Ky.

Radiation-Induced Pollen-Sterile Tomatoes May Facilitate Production of Hybrid Seed

By Margaret M. and J. W. Lesley, University of California Agriculture Experiment Station
In many cultivated plants, first generation hybrids may have a combination of characters superior to that of either parent. The cost of producing F1 hybrid seed, however, may be prohibitive.
In species which are largely self-pollinating, it is usually necessary to remove the stamens prior to cross pollination to ensure a high percentage of hybrids. This adds to the cost of producing seed. Removal of the stamens would not be necessary if self-fertilization is prevented by some natural mechanism or by pollen sterility.
The number of pollen-sterile plants can be greatly increased by exposing the seeds or pollen to ionizing radiation. X-rays are most frequently used and, in some respects, the simplest to apply.
Commercial X-ray sources are usually inadequate, but some federal and university laboratories have the desired facilities.
A dose of 10,000 to 15,000 roentgen has been used. Neutrons, gamma rays and radioactive chemicals are also effective.
Our procedure consisted of soaking the tomato seeds in a diluted phosphoric acid containing radioactive element P32. Most of the plants from the treated seeds, known as the R1 generation, grew slowly and were not nearly as fertile as plants from non-treated seed. From 75 seeds treated, 25 plants produced seed from self-pollination. The second generation consisted of 25 small families of 10 to 20 plants, each from a different R1 parent.
Several mutations had occurred affecting skin and flesh color of the fruit, stem color, leaf color and hairiness. Many of the R2 plants were pollen sterile. The pollen of every plant was examined in iodine dissolved in potassium iodide and water under a low-to-moderate magnification. Pollen sterility resulted from various causes.
A supply of pollen-sterile plants is obtained by crossing a pollen sterile with a hybrid. Totally pollen-sterile plants were obtained by irradiation. It is likely that pollen sterility in this case depends on a simple recessive gene mutation caused by beta rays.
This method is applicable to other plants where emasculation is a major cost of production of F1 hybrid seed. It might be more difficult with species that are polyploid. The usefulness of a pollen-sterile can only be determined by practical tests by the seed growing industry.
New Developments in Seed Packeting
Automatic packaging has shown tremendous growth in the popularity of transparent film-type materials. Anyone with doubts had only to visit the packaging show held in Atlantic City, where the trend toward packaging practically everything was apparent. People want to see what they are buying.
However, when people buy seeds, it is not the seeds but the end result of the seeds — the flowers and vegetables that grow from the seeds — which are of particular interest. For that reason, except for occasional departures, the seed packeting industry has adhered to paper packets with bright pictures of flowers or vegetables.
But one company decided to use a poly-type bag. The machine chosen to package the seed was adapted for this special operation only after much experimentation because the poly-type bags were difficult to handle. They did not have the rigidity of the paper bags and would not stand upright for filling.
It is usually the case that when you correct one trouble you create another, and the seed packeting machines were no exception. Faster speeds caused certain seeds to bounce in the tunnel feeding the packets, which resulted in seed loss and lack of uniformity of weight in the packets. To correct this, the design of the feed tunnel was changed to better guide seed into the packets.
Based on long shop runs, the machine parts should wear much longer and still give production results far beyond the capabilities of the machines as originally designed.
Building Christmas and Off-Season Sales
Right now bulbs, fall perennials, grass seed, fertilizer and lawn spreaders hold the spotlight in garden centers and seed stores.
The big question is whether you’ve made any plans as to what you will feature after the demand for fall items disappears. Some of our large garden center operators report that over 20 percent of total sales are made between Nov. 15 and Dec. 31. They feature Christmas items and items that can be used as Christmas gifts. Christmas trees, decorations, ornaments and lights for Christmas trees, garden supplies, and outdoor living items of various kinds that make appropriate gifts are the items featured.
As the Christmas holidays approach, your garden center must have a festive appearance if you wish to draw customers in. Decorate your premises with Christmas trimmings!