Copyright © 2008--2016 Ted Jordan Meredith. All Rights Reserved

---Seed grown garlic naming conventions

We have formulated a naming convention to keep track of garlic grown from seeds. All systems of nomenclature have strengths and weaknesses.  Other naming conventions may well be better, but the one we have employed has served us reasonably well so far. It is as follows:

The name consists of “S” indicating origination from seed, followed by the year the seeds were planted (we always plant the garlic seeds the year following harvest), followed by the name of the mother plant (we have not done controlled breeding where the other parent plant is known). So, for example, S10BrownRose is the name for seeds planted in 2010 from the mother plant Brown Rose.

If the plant does not produce a harvestable round or divided bulb in the first year, the subsequent year is appended. So, if S10BrownRose does not form a round or harvestable bulb until the second year, the name designation becomes S10/11BrownRose.

Seeds that successfully grow out represent potentially unique cultivars, so a number is appended to designate each.  A “1” indicates the plant with the largest round or bulb in the first year followed by “2” for the second largest, and so on. For example, if the seeds yielded four rounds or bulbs, they would be named S10BrownRose1, S10BrownRose2, S10BrownRose3, and S10BrownRose4 in rough order of initial round or bulb size. Plants that did not form a harvestable round or bulb in the first year would be named S10/11BrownRose1, S10/11BrownRose2, and so on. The name and numbering in subsequent years remains the same even if the relative bulb size changes. 

Seed that is subsequently produced from these seed grown plants include their parentage as part of their names. For example, seed that were produced from S10/11BrownRose2 that are planted in 2013 and produce a round that year would be designated S10/11BrownRose2-13. If it did not produce a round until the following year the designation would be S10/11BrownRose2-13/14. 

Using numbers to designate the relative size of the rounds or bulbs of subsequent generations of seed grown garlic would awkwardly append numbers to other numbers in the name, so letters are used instead---“A” for the largest, “B” for the second largest, and so on. Thus the names of two plants that were grown from seed from the mother plant S10/11BrownRose2 that were planted in 2013 and produced harvestable rounds in 2014 would be named S10/11BrownRose2-13/14A and S10/11BrownRose2-13/14B.

A third generation seed grown plant would have its name appended similarly.  For example, if seed from S10/11BrownRose2-13/14A were planted in 2016, the two plants that yielded the two largest rounds or bulbs in the year of planting would be named S10/11BrownRose2-13/14A-16A and S10/11BrownRose2-13/14A-16B.

While the naming convention may seem a bit ponderous, it does allow a relatively precise tracking of the parentage and generations. Reportedly, subsequent generations of seed-produced garlic tend to yield more seed with greater viability, fewer genetic aberrations, and with less  need for removing bulbils to produce seed. The naming convention fosters tracking and assessment of these reported tendencies. If more sophisticated breeding techniques are employed so that both parents are known, this could be incorporated into the naming convention, for example, S10BrownRose x Shvelisi, and so on.

Ideally, these reference names would continue to be included in listings even if more marketable names are given, e.g., “Uncle Clem’s Blue Mountain Special (S10BrownRose3-13/14B),” much in the way that references to currently marketable cultivars may include germplasm reference numbers, such as the USDA accession number, e.g., “Belarus (PI 540355).”