Daylilies forum: There may never be enough BUT, Serious Hybridizers, how much space is needed?

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Name: Jeff
Newaygo, Michigan (Zone 5a)
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goedric
Nov 24, 2019 7:41 AM CST
This is my first year getting serious about daylily hybridization. I see that my home base really does not have enough room (1/3 acre for garden space).

So... i need to find a secondary location. I do not plan to become a big commercial operation or anything... this is not about earning a living... but who knows, I may one day want a small specialized garden center for fun and to offset a portion of my hobby costs and to spread around any of my future creations that have merit.

Taking any brick, mortar and parking needs out of the equation... how much growing space is essential? I am thinking this secondary location will be mostly for growing out seedlings, long crosses, lining out anything i care to offer... and that clumps of keepers used to hybridize with will be moved to home base (1/3 acre) so that I have constant easy access.

Yes, the more land the better... but I have not won any lottery or anything... would a tillable acre be enough? Advice appreciated from the learned lessons of those who have traveled the road before me!

Seedling pic just to add some color to the discussion

Thx!


Thumb of 2019-11-24/goedric/9b077a

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Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Composter Daylilies Garden Photography Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Region: Alabama
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Seedfork
Nov 24, 2019 8:40 AM CST
That is an interesting question, but I am not sure anyone but you can answer it. It is not just a matter of how much space is needed but how much time, money and energy you have to devote to it. It depends how you plan to grow your plants...just let them grow on their on or really nurture them to get the best performance out of them? That could be high cost for disease prevention and insect control, high costs for fertilizer, and a high water bill...are you going to be buying the very latest in plant varieties? That would limit my needed amount of space pretty quickly. This is not meant as an answer to your question but just to point out how each individual person will have different needs for the amount of space needed for their daylily growing hobby.
[Last edited by Seedfork - Nov 24, 2019 9:26 AM (+)]
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Name: Karen
Southeast PA (Zone 6b)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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kousa
Nov 24, 2019 9:07 AM CST
That's a great and thoughtful answer, Larry!

Jeff, it may benefit you to seek out regional hybridizers and ask their advice. One best way to meet up with these nice folks is to attend the AHS conferences they hold each year for each region. Michigan is in AHS 2. You can check out their website. They have planned a Winter Symposium early next year but it is in Indiana.

http://www.region2daylily.org/

http://www.region2daylily.org/...
[Last edited by kousa - Nov 24, 2019 9:08 AM (+)]
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Name: Davi (Judy) Davisson
Sherrills Ford, NC (Zone 7a)
Davi
Nov 24, 2019 9:33 AM CST
Larry is correct...every person is different in their space requirements. But a few things you should consider in purchasing a space to devote to growing your seedlings:

#1 Do you have goals? A hybridizer focused on creating something that does not now exist needs a lot less space because they are able to focus in on what parents are likely to get them to their goals rather than buying every daylily they can get their hands on and producing 100,000 seeds from unrelated parents just hoping to get something good enough to introduce. Living where you do in a cold climate where increase is slower, I would advise against being a "copycat" hybridizer and instead focus in on a unique idea...creating something that does not now exist.

#2 Do you have help? Or is it just you who will be in charge of digging, planting, weeding, fertilizing, culling, lining out? Hybridizing can quickly become a full time job if you let it giving you little time for anything else if you take care of too many seedlings or too much space.

#3 Does the property you are considering have a fence....a tall one so that your buds don't become the favored snack bar to the local deer herd? Does the property have a watering system so that your effort isn't wasted in years of drought? Does the property have good dirt or does the soil need a lot of improvement to make digging in it easier. You will first be planting and eventually be digging up and throwing away 90 to 95% of your seedlings so if you go "large scale" you will be digging up and throwing away a LOT of plants! Do you have the time and energy for that?

I know that is a lot more questions than answers! But having more space does not necessarily translate into being a successful hybridizer.
[Last edited by Davi - Nov 24, 2019 9:38 AM (+)]
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Name: James
California (Zone 8b)
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JamesT
Nov 24, 2019 9:48 AM CST
The amount of space will be determined by how many of the "interesting" seedlings you plan to keep, and how much land you will be able to tend properly. I'd say a full acre as a secondary location would be fine to get started. Several well-known commercial enterprises seem to be doing just fine on large residential lots.

The next issue would be location. You'll want it to be close to your home, because there will be a lot of trips back and forth during the bloom season. You won't just be hybridizing with established clumps, you'll want to use plenty of your first-year seedlings too, if you want your program to be competitive.

Other important factors are level ground, good, well-drained soil, full sun exposure, and few or no trees.

Trees may offer some refreshing shade in the summer, but they also have greedy roots that daylilies can't really compete against. Trees near the property lines can pose the same problem, and once you start cultivating your plot, the roots will find you. Serious daylily hybridizers use shade cloth to break the sun.

Visit some daylily nurseries and see what kind of space they're using and how that stacks up against the kind of program you'd like to have.

If you're really serious about hybridizing, anecdotal evidence suggests that you will eventually move to Florida. nodding
Name: Jeff
Newaygo, Michigan (Zone 5a)
If You Can't Fix It...
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goedric
Nov 24, 2019 9:52 AM CST
Seedfork said:That is an interesting question, but I am not sure anyone but you can answer it. It is not just a matter of how much space is needed but how much time, money and energy you have to devote to it. It depends how how you plan to grow your plants...just let them grow on their on or really nurture them to get the best performance out of them? That could be high cost for disease prevention and insect control, high costs for fertilizer, and a high water bill...are you going to be buying the very latest in plant varieties? That would limit my needed amount of space pretty quickly. This is not meant as an answer to your question but just to point out how each individual person will have different needs for the amount of space needed for their daylily growing hobby.


Yes you are quite right... on a micro budget you cannot possibly use much space... and I left too many variables in the equation and to the imagination. For the sake of discussion, let's suppose:

(1) I have the ultimate goal down the road of introducing 3-5 tets and 3-5 dips a year... if the Gods of genetics are kind.
(2) That I have a reasonable amount of time and energy to nurture plants (meaning I am essentially retired and I plan to do it near full time and can hire a part-time helper as needed)
(3) I can afford all the chemicals, fertilizers, soil amendments, and water needed
(4) I have/will make a serious but thoughtful investment in stock to get started but I will NOT be adding more than 2 or 3 new and exciting hybrids a year (fools prayer i know). My goal is to play with the genetics on hand. I am not interested in a "seed selling business" or "commercial" venture at all. Commercializing things just takes the fun out of it. So selling will be more social and just to cover a fraction of hobby costs.
(5) I have indoor facilities currently to produce 5, 000 to 10,000 seedlings each year (not that I plan to raise so many every year). This year I expect to have 7,500 seedlings unless seed viability is a problem or disease strikes. Last year I produced 500 seedlings which are now in the ground.

Here is the thing. I have to buy some land to plant the seedlings from the seeds in my fridge. Land is not dirt cheap because I want it conveniently close to where I live. Maybe I can get an acre or an acre and a half with suitable zoning affordably... If i need 5 acres it gets ugly and i may be better off buying an old farm house with a little acreage and a rental property on it to offset the mortgage payment.... BUT I much prefer NOT to go the rental property route if an acre or thereabouts is a descent start.

Advice appreciated.

Thx

Jeff
You Gotta Stand It.
[Last edited by goedric - Nov 24, 2019 9:54 AM (+)]
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Name: Jeff
Newaygo, Michigan (Zone 5a)
If You Can't Fix It...
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goedric
Nov 24, 2019 10:09 AM CST
@Davi
@JamesT

Yes, interested in moving in new directions and not at all interested in commercialization... no need for 100,000 seedlings and screening for the characteristics needed for mass production. Have some formal training in biology, botany, genetics, etc... and once owned a small plant nursery in Mexico... although we did propagation (many bamboos, musa, heliconia, gingers, etc.. but no actual breeding)... so no rose colored glasses...

I fully get the work and the number of culls needed... not naive about that... just wrecked my car on a deer and they are everywhere... so I also get the need for fencing... at my home the dang things ate all my Vampire Lady Pods... so come spring I need to fence at home as well.

My sense is that a full acre of tillable land should be enough... so that if I can find one that is 1.5 acres or maybe 2 that I should be gold... but I am asking in case I am not seeing the full picture
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Name: Bob
Northeast Florida (Zone 9a)
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bobjax
Nov 24, 2019 10:16 AM CST
One interesting way to do this is to get the location of the major hybridizers and enter it into Google maps and get the satellite view.

Example: Floyd Cove Trimmer (shift the map around):

https://www.google.com/maps/pl...
[Last edited by bobjax - Nov 24, 2019 11:17 AM (+)]
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Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Composter Daylilies Garden Photography Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Region: Alabama
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Seedfork
Nov 24, 2019 11:05 AM CST
It seems then the question almost boils down to how much space would be needed to grow the thousands of seedlings you plan to grow( pretty much a math question). You already have the indoor space to grow the seedlings so that is a huge plus already. Then just decide on the spacing for the plants (6", 8" 12"?) , and then allow space to grow on the selected plants ( that might take a little more guesswork) . I am assuming you already have space for the plants you would be hybridizing with and allowing for the seedlings you would be doing crosses with?
Not sure about the equation for how much time it will take to develop 5-10 dips and tets worthy of registration each year.
Name: Davi (Judy) Davisson
Sherrills Ford, NC (Zone 7a)
Davi
Nov 24, 2019 12:13 PM CST
I think your goals are quite reasonable if you have an acre of property. There are negatives in having too much property...it is easy to let culling and the clearing of seedling beds go which leaves unnecessary maintenance. You can easily do 6,000 to 7,000+ seedlings on a 3 to 4 year rotation with an acre of tillable ground.

If at all possible I would choose to live where my seedlings are because part of the evaluation process is comparing how the flowers look at different times of the day....and taking a break to walk thru your garden without having to travel is one of life's greatest pleasures! Fencing two properties sounds expensive!
Name: Jeff
Newaygo, Michigan (Zone 5a)
If You Can't Fix It...
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goedric
Nov 24, 2019 1:00 PM CST
Davi said:I think your goals are quite reasonable if you have an acre of property. There are negatives in having too much property...it is easy to let culling and the clearing of seedling beds go which leaves unnecessary maintenance. You can easily do 6,000 to 7,000+ seedlings on a 3 to 4 year rotation with an acre of tillable ground.

If at all possible I would choose to live where my seedlings are because part of the evaluation process is comparing how the flowers look at different times of the day....and taking a break to walk thru your garden without having to travel is one of life's greatest pleasures! Fencing two properties sounds expensive!


Me too... I have almost 10 acres where I live. BUT, 80 is heavily forested and most of the forested land is across a 30 ft wide creek. I own on both sides... and the creek is not deep (2 ft) but no company I have found is willing to cross to clear... And there are no roads cut through neighboring properties that provide access to my land that I can find. I am almost tempted to hire guys to saw down trees and then buy a small used excavator and sneak across myself to move around the logs and dig out the stumps... it's just so much work... that's why I am looking at buying a different tillable parcel...

Buy boy would I live to clear an acre on my own land!

You Gotta Stand It.
Name: Maurice
Grey County, Ontario (Zone 4b)
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admmad
Nov 24, 2019 1:43 PM CST
@goedric
Could the sale of some of the wood from the forested area pay for building some sort of bridge across the creek?
Maurice
Name: Jeff
Newaygo, Michigan (Zone 5a)
If You Can't Fix It...
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goedric
Nov 24, 2019 1:53 PM CST
admmad said:@goedric
Could the sale of some of the wood from the forested area pay for building some sort of bridge across the creek?


The loggers have the same issue... no access... I have a nice for bridge suitable for ATV but no way big machines are going over... they could just drive across but they won't risk crossing water... wetland issues with the DNR and even if i get permission they wont drive thru water even though it's just 2 ft deep


You Gotta Stand It.
Name: Dennis
SW Michigan (Zone 5a)
Daylilies
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Dennis616
Nov 24, 2019 2:14 PM CST
Coincidentally, just last week I did an evaluation of how much land I would need for what I would consider to be an ideal hybridizing situation. My thinking did echoe many of the excellent points made above.

Key variables:

Number of beds.
  • I have settled on a "system" like the one Char uses which she describes in another thread. 3 primary seedling beds, 1 a year for 3 years since in the north it can take that long to fully evaluate.
  • 3 for keepers for on-going hybridization (and possibly for past intros not actively used). Obviously could be 1 bed but I thought 3 could provide some helpful logical structure.
  • 1 for 3rd party cultivars
  • 1 for lining out

Size of beds in terms of number of plants. How many plants you need or want for each bed is highly subjective. After some thinking, taking into account my fairly specific goals I came up with 2300 seedlings a year for the seedling beds but you can obviously make your own determination.

Spacing.
  • Given a 3yr eval period I feel 1.5' spacing is good for seedling beds. For other beds I used 3'. Obviously could be adjusted.
  • I also included room for paths inside the beds. Need to be able to move around to weed, evaluate, hybridize.

Bed size in terms of # of plants x spacing + room for paths gives total bed sizes. My scenario worked out to being almost exactly 1 acre for the beds.

Name: Maurice
Grey County, Ontario (Zone 4b)
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admmad
Nov 24, 2019 2:28 PM CST
@goedric
The loggers have the same issue... no access... I have a nice for bridge suitable for ATV but no way big machines are going over... they could just drive across but they won't risk crossing water... wetland issues with the DNR and even if i get permission they wont drive thru water even though it's just 2 ft deep


Yes, I assumed that there would be DNR issues and that driving through the stream would not be acceptable. I meant more along the lines of building a permanent bridge first with steel girders longer than the stream width (for example), etc. It would need to be capable of allowing whatever vehicles across that would be required to harvest the trees. Then having the trees harvested and using the income to pay for the cost of having built the bridge.
Maurice
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Composter Daylilies Garden Photography Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Region: Alabama
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Seedfork
Nov 24, 2019 3:03 PM CST
I was thinking about the type of temporary bridges they use in the military, for heavy equipment to cross streams, creeks and rivers? But there is probably some regulation to prevent that also. Glad the pioneers did not have all those rules to follow.
Name: Jeff
Newaygo, Michigan (Zone 5a)
If You Can't Fix It...
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goedric
Nov 24, 2019 5:44 PM CST
Seedfork said:I was thinking about the type of temporary bridges they use in the military, for heavy equipment to cross streams, creeks and rivers? But there is probably some regulation to prevent that also. Glad the pioneers did not have all those rules to follow.


haha yeah, the pioneers just lit a fire and wham! 1000 cleared acres. when i look at the costs of clearing it's just better to do grow out seedlings off site on tillable land... as close to home as possible... taking a 2nd look at a 4 acre property tomorrow.. has 1 acre cleared, another acre with scrub brush (easily cleared) and 2 acres with forest but not too dense and easily accessed for clearing if i every need more room... There is about 12" of good topsoil before hitting sand so I can work with that. And its about a 15 minute drive... not horrible.



You Gotta Stand It.
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Composter Daylilies Garden Photography Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Region: Alabama
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Seedfork
Nov 24, 2019 10:25 PM CST
I was referring to the pioneers crossing of streams with their wagons.California does seem to be clearing the land with fires these days.
Name: Greg Bogard
Winston-Salem, NC (Zone 7a)
Sscape
Nov 24, 2019 10:40 PM CST
A friend of mine a few years ago went crazy and planted an acre of daylilies, with plans for another two or thee more. They are now a field of weeds/grass at least three feet tall and so thick you cannot see the ground, let alone any daylily seedlings that survived. Give lots of consideration to how it will be laid-out, and how weeds will be controlled. In your zone it will take at least 3 to 4 years to grow the seeds to blooming size and select for further evaluation. Weeds can quickly overcome the best intentions.
Name: Karen
Southeast PA (Zone 6b)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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kousa
Nov 25, 2019 9:46 AM CST
Sscape said:A friend of mine a few years ago went crazy and planted an acre of daylilies, with plans for another two or thee more. They are now a field of weeds/grass at least three feet tall and so thick you cannot see the ground, let alone any daylily seedlings that survived. Give lots of consideration to how it will be laid-out, and how weeds will be controlled. In your zone it will take at least 3 to 4 years to grow the seeds to blooming size and select for further evaluation. Weeds can quickly overcome the best intentions.


I can attest to the above! Daylily beds can quickly be taken over by weeds! Thus the bigger the acreage, the more weeding you will do unless you have some form of weed barrier put down and that is additional cost and work. There's a hybridizer in PA who grows seedlings in green houses. Only when the seedlings become keepers that he will line them outside in the ground. That way, he can reduce the time it takes to get the seedlings to bloom, allows him to do crosses earlier in the year, and also practically no weeding. Though there are downsides to operating a greenhouse such as energy cost, rust, and pests esp. spider mites.

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