Musings of a California Spring Trials Rookie: Day One, CAST 2017

Tyler Beasley
Tyler Beasley

I have officially made it through my very first day at the 2017 California Spring Trials. I’m not sure what I have got myself into! Yes, I had expectations to see new introductions, but I did not expect to be run over by what felt like a semi-truck of plants. Arriving a day early from Spokane, WA (which still has snow on the ground in some areas), and landing in California can be a bit of a shock for a plant guy. Not only is everything flowering and leafed out in the landscape, but it’s sunny with clear skies. I started to ask myself if there is such a thing as too many plants at once, and had to remind myself why I got into this industry so many years ago.

I used to be the consumer. It was much easier then, to decide on plants. If I liked it, I tried it. If it didn’t work, I moved on. Managing Spokane Community College’s Greenhouses for the past eight years, I have learned what growers look for in plants. I want something that has color, fits nicely in its pot size, doesn’t require much time to finish, and sells itself right from the bench. I currently think like a grower and want as few problems as possible.

Breeding Efforts A Big Surprise

After a day immersed in plants, I’ve discovered that there is a whole new level of the industry I have no idea about — the breeding. The first day of California Spring Trials has taken everything I thought I knew about varieties and shaken them apart. What it takes for a plant to make it into the market is something absolutely over my head. I have to appreciate the passion that comes from the breeders specifically. It takes dedication for individuals to put their daily work into making one new introduction. And if the new series is a bust, they try to improve it later, or completely start over.

For the first day, I have learned some of the new opportunities the industry offers. I have seen some plants that I would not only love to have for myself, but to share with the public. I have gained a tremendous amount of respect for those that are working in the breeding programs and look forward to meeting more of them in the coming days.

Thank you to Kemin for its support of the 2017 Dr. Allan Armitage California Spring Trials Scholarship.

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