Horticulturalists have developed more than 100,000+ hybrids and cultivars of orchids alone, as well as innumerable cultivars of other species, for such purposes as beauty, flavor, size, smell, disease and insect resistance, seedlessness, weather tolerance and other traits / characteristics.
The plant chosen as a cultivar was deliberately bred and selected from plants in cultivation, or discovered in the wild. It is maintained in cultivation by asexual propagation or it may be seed-raised from inbreeding within the cultivar. Clones produced by vegetative (asexual) propagation are genetically identical and will appear so when grown under the same conditions.
Seed-raised cultivars can be mixes that show wide variation in one or more traits, such as a mix of flower colors, or may be highly homogeneous plant strains produced by heavily selecting out undesirable traits, thus producing a breeding line that is uniform. Cultivars can be F1 hybrids produced by cross breeding.
Cultivar selection is perhaps one of the most critical selections a commercial grower must make prior to each grow cycle. Variety selection is a very dynamic process in which the grower must carefully select the right cultivar to be placed into the farms production program.
It is important to be very selective when selecting the right cultivar. Through selective breeding, new varieties may be produced with a combination of desirable
traits which may vary from size, color, smell, production, weather tolerance disease, drought and pest resistance etc. Some varieties may be very popular for years, while some others may be supplanted by the grower in favor of more marketable varieties.
A farms profit potential largely depends on selecting varieties suited to it’s commercial farming operation.
It’s wise to study and use reliable results from published literature or other growers experience with a certain cultivar.
It is critical to talk to the cultivator providing the cultivars about it’s traits, qualities, yield, growing environment / conditions, nutrients, desired pH levels etc. This information is of upmost importance when expecting to meet or exceed the genetic potential of the cultivar.
Market research is important to clarify what products are moving in the current marketplace. Growers should know their target market and be prepared to produce what the market is willing to purchase.
When testing out new varieties, do so on a small scale and if possible, try to replicate the same growing conditions. Testing new varieties will often provide valuable information on whether or not the selected cultivar may be desirable for your primary farming operations.
Records should be kept throughout the trial. All results should be recorded and documented for future use. Good records will allow the grower to identify which varieties will perform best and placed into the production program.
New varieties often have traits common in their previous variety. Accurate records with past varieties will often help when selecting new cultivars for future production.
A good cultivar should have:
– Horticultural traits desired by the market.
– High market yield potential.
– Resistance disease, insects, stress and other physiological disorders (e.g. blossom-end rot)
It is important for growers to continually analyze the marketplace for what is currently in demand and have the ability to recognize and anticipate future market trends.
Marketability – The harvested product must have qualities desired by the packer, shipper, wholesaler, retailer and consumer.
Traits – The characteristics of the plant must be suitable for the growing environment / season.
Yield – The variety being considered should have the potential to produce , at minimum, the equivalent to those already grown.
Disease Resistance – The most economical way to reduce pests and diseases is thru selecting varieties with genetic resistance or tolerance.
Adaptability – Desired cultivars must perform well under a wide range of environmental conditions.