JARS v55n1 - Changes at the ARS Seed Exchange

Changes at the ARS Seed Exchange
Contributors and Growers Needed
John Nicolella
Chair, ARS Seed Exchange
East Quogue, New York

The ARS Seed Exchange thanks George Woodard, past chairman of the exchange. He has always sought to encourage all Society members to participate. He has reached out to contributors of seed in order to provide the best choices possible. His dedication and service has been an inspiration. We will make every effort to continue in his footsteps to serve members well.

Over the years the Seed Exchange has had fewer contributors; consequently fewer packets of seed are now available. If you are not familiar with the satisfaction of hybridizing and producing seed, or collecting species seed in the wild, give it a try. You may end up with more seed than you can grow. Please send us your excess, or even make crosses specifically for the Seed Exchange. You may in the future be surprised to see your name as hybridizer in the Journal's list of new registered hybrids, or under a photo of a great new cultivar. If you know of someone growing good plants, etc., be an "ambassador" and speak to them of your Society's need for hand pollinated seed. This is your exchange. Participation will benefit both you and other members. Let's make every effort to insure that the best collection of rhododendron seed anywhere is always available to ARS members. You can make this happen.

Webmasters Marc Colombel in France and Hans Eiberg in Denmark are placing our seed lists on line. We also expect ARS website rhododendron.org to participate in presenting the 2001 catalog. These sites may be found at the following URLs: http://perso.wanadoo.fr/rhodo/ARS_SEED/ and http://www.rhododendron.dk/ARS_seed_2001.html and http://www.rhododendron.org.

Many members ordered seed in 2000 via e-mail. In an effort to save printing and mailing costs and reduce the extra labor involved, we will no longer send them "hardcopy" catalogs. An e-mail will be sent informing them that the catalog is now on-line and that they may go to the operational URLs. If one has a preference to receive the "hardcopy" catalog, please let us know. We will send one.

The 2000 catalog requested "do not fill in the amount of the check, but mark across the top of your check 'Not to exceed $__'." This worked extremely well since refund requests were reduced from about $5,000 to less than $500. This has reduced the work load and has resulted in a more efficient distribution of seed. Thank you for responding so well to this request. Members may now choose to accept credit for the following year; however, the "open" check method is preferred.

Certain changes will be made in the catalog in order that effective service may be continued and improved. This is how the catalog will be arranged:
-contributor, country
-species seed, hand pollinated *(hp)
-species seed, collected wild (cw)
-species seed, self fertile (sf),
-hybrid seed, hand pollinated (hp)
-companion plant seed
(*All seed lots not marked 'cw' or 'sf,' are hand pollinated; hp will not be written.)

We do not accept open pollinated seed from hybrids. Open pollinated seed from species must be collected in the wild or collected from species known to be only self fertile. The exchange accepts only cleaned and well marked seed. The deadline for our receiving seed is December 1.

This arrangement enables us to process the seed in one operation. The exchange will be saving at least two to three weeks labor over the previous method which required several time consuming steps. If you were to send an early list of the seed you expect to contribute, we could get a lot of work done in advance. If you can e-mail the information, your address will be recorded and make future communication more efficient. There will be a survey concerning your opinion of the changes in the new catalog. Please let us hear what you think, positive or negative.

There will be one price for all seed lots this year. In the past, having a special price category became a twofold burden. Much good seed was not requested because of the higher price, and we had the extra task of counting seed packets before and after sales.

In the past, the Seed Exchange donated funds to gardens, such as the Cecil and Molly Smith Garden, the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden, Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens, and Planting Fields Arboretum. We will continue to donate to gardens as a result of funds brought in.

At this writing we have both $3 and $3.50 per seed packet in mind. The Seed Exchange now has increased costs. In the first Seed Exchange year we had no catalog, no donations to expeditions and gardens. Today we need to reserve $4,000 for startup, catalog and mailing. As fewer than 400 orders are received at the exchange, we now have the added cost of spending over $10 for every order received. The exchange, in 2001, will be sending "hard copy" catalogs only to those who ordered seed via the post office and to those who have specifically requested the 2001 catalog. ARS members who wish to receive a "hard copy" catalog should let us know and we will send it to them. If possible, please send us a mailing label and indicate "catalog request" on the outside of the envelope. Not to continue in a boring fiscal talk, let us just say that the ARS Seed Exchange is a benefit of membership in the American Rhododendron Society; therefore, this is a service to you and not a business. We will decide upon price after viewing the contributions received. The variety and amount of seed received will have direct bearing upon price. Please help keep the price as low as possible by becoming a contributor. The purchase of seed will also help hold down the price in future catalogs. Please consider accepting additional seed lots as many are in short supply; members ordering twenty packets and not checking "additional substitutions," have received only one or two packets.

The greatest demand is for species seed collected in the wild. The seed collected by Jens Nielson in Tibet was the most popular offering last year. We hope to continue seeking opportunities to contribute funds to such expeditions. Contributors have the benefit of having their requests filled first and thus stand a better chance of obtaining their choice of seed.

We are willing to extend to all members another way in which to become a contributor. If you donate a minimum of $20 to go to our next partially funded expedition you will become a contributor to the exchange for the year in which your donation is put to that end. In so doing you will now have all the benefits due any contributor.

Since many of the parents used to create hybrid crosses are not familiar to most members, would you consider sending prints or slides of these parent plants to the exchange? Scanned or digital pictures, in the JPG format (max. of 100 KB), would save much time, effort and cost if sent via e-mail. A file can be made available over the Internet, which can then be downloaded and shared with members who are not Internet enabled by coordinating with your local chapter as how best to go about this. The exchange is not presently prepared to do this; however, if there is sufficient response we will begin this work. If a number of contributors rely mostly on prints or slides a scanner will be considered.

If all goes well we are planning to list these somewhat obscure hybrids. Only unregistered hybrids need be described. Possibly the cultivar is registered and still not known to many of us. A Journal reference date could be included with the description. This list will immediately follow the contributor's seed lot numbers. In so doing, a resource is made available which can be used for immediate reference. We are requesting that contributors supply the Seed Exchange with this additional information during the months of July and August. We understand that any list received at this time reflects the crosses you've done and that many may fail to produce seed to share with the exchange. However, receiving this list in summer will accelerate our cataloging in the fall. This is a slow period for the exchange. During this time additional tasks can best be accomplished. E-mailing this information would almost eliminate the work load involved in cataloging.

The ARS is an international organization. Many members have informed the Seed Exchange of the excessive rates that must be paid when they transfer their currency into US dollars. To reduce unreasonable rates we will be accepting credit cards; however, you must be a member of the ARS and use the "Fax Method" of payment. The "Fax Method" has an automatic $10 handling fee added.

Credit Card Payment. This method may appear complicated; however, a few trial runs in 2000 have shown it works well.
1. You must be a member of the ARS to pay by credit card.
2. The Fax Method is the only way that we can accept credit cards.
3. There is a $10 handling fee for the Fax Method. This fee is automatically added to your bill.

The Fax Method of Payment ($10 handling fee automatically added). 1. In ordering your seeds tell us that you choose to pay via the Fax Method. 2. a). If you ordered seed via e-mail, I will send you our Fax Form via e-mail for you to print. The fax number of our executive director, Dee Daneri, will be on the form. Please fill in all the required information, sign and fax to Dee. 2. b). If you ordered seed via the traditional post, you will find the Fax Form in the envelope with your seed. Please complete, sign and fax to Dee.

Until April 30, 2001, distribution is only open to ARS members. After this non members may order seed. In the past this has encouraged non members to join the ARS. All distribution will end June 20, 2001. At the close of all distribution, excellent seed usually is left over. We will offer this seed on the web at $1 per packet. We hope to have our on-line lists modified to reflect only the seed batches that remain available. We recognize that many members do not have on-line access (in the USA free access to the Internet is available through the public library system; worldwide, we would expect to find similar free service). The Seed Exchange can only work this sale on the Internet. Any member who fails to obtain access to the Internet and is willing to order "blind" may request a minimum number of twenty packets (all 20 can be all of one lot number, e.g., 20 pkts. of lot#6 ) plus $3 added for shipping & handling, beginning June 21, 2001. Payment must accompany your order. No refunds will be sent. We will make substitutions for seed requested that's sold out. This "special closeout" will end on September 20, 2001.

Although much of what has been written deals with computers and the Internet, we fully understand that this technology is not available to most members. However, the exchange must use computers to bring the "hardcopy" catalog to you. Use of the Internet speeds the composing of the catalog; thus all members benefit from our efforts in trying to maximize use of this tool.

A special thanks to all contributors who remain the foundation of the Seed Exchange. We are also grateful to webmasters Marc Colombel of France, Hans Eiberg of Denmark, and Bob Weissman and Don Smart of the United States. The work by England's Graham Lock with the "hardcopy" catalog is also greatly appreciated. Werner Brack, a former Seed Exchange staff member, continues in his labor at the exchange and is now proofreader of catalog entries. We gratefully acknowledge and applaud his long continuing dedication to the exchange. All are ARS members.

Improve the ARS by contributing to and growing seed from the ARS seed exchange. Your inquiries and suggestions, even legitimately critical ones, will be welcomed. We will continue to maintain the good service you deserve.