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Old May 5, 2013   #16
carolyn137
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I think it might be a good idea to distinguish amateur from professional breeders and that's been touched on in some previous posts in this thread.


I would have a different opinioon of compensation depending on whether someone says they are hobby amateur breeders as opposed to professional breeders.

Yes, I know that Tom has been selling seed for unstable varieties, that's been discussed here at Tville a lot.

And yes, I do know that some give their initial crosses to others for growout and it was only a few weeks ago that I found one of them, not amateur, was having someone in NH do growouts.

And yes, I know that Mark ( Frogsleap)also has growouts done for him in various places.

And yes, I also know that some amateurs are doing many many directed crosses and I can't believe they would even expect any compensation.

So in my mind the questions remain: how to define amateur as opposed to professional breeders who might expect compensation, and for the latter are the targets for placements what I posted above as in small family run businesses or the larger ones I named, at least some of them, above.

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Old May 5, 2013   #17
Fusion_power
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Hate to rain on the party, but you are all missing the most fundamental parts. How much time and effort went into developing the new variety? What benefits does it offer to the grower?

If I spend 8 years making complex crosses to introgress 5 disease tolerance traits into a fabulously good flavored tomato that looks and tastes like Lucky Cross, then I might expect more compensation than the average person who has a new tomato that happens to be round, red, highly productive, and decent flavored. In other words, I want to be paid for the sweat equity.

What about the benefits to the consumer? Would they pay a premium to get a fabulously pretty worry free tomato with fantastic flavor?

The simple reality is that no professional breeder can afford to develop a variety under the conditions given above. The time and effort involved simply can't be recovered from an open pollinated variety. This is why commercially developed tomatoes are all hybrids.

In the end, what you have to do is beat the Rutgers mafia. This is the group of OP tomato lines that are already available that have most of the traits being discussed above. You have to come up with a Green Zebra or something similarly novel and useful. Then you have to market it effectively.

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Old May 5, 2013   #18
feldon30
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As others said, you shouldn't expect revenue for an OP variety. Saving seeds is far too ingrained in people's minds.

If you were to set a high price like was done with a variety like Marianna's Peace (I think it was $20/pack) , then an industrious individual out there will do the world a favor, buy a few packets of your seeds, grow a hundred plants, and then give the seeds away for free. I just don't see any money in OP breeding.
Quote:
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3. You have made a cross and carried it through to stability at F8. Along the way you have freely distributed seed of various generations. This season, several vendors will be offering your variety for sale. What percentage of gross sales would you expect from each vendor?
This to me is the worst case scenario as you have created a tremendous amount of confusion and dilution of the "brand". You would also completely invalidate any trademark/copyright/plant patent/whatever you try to apply by unrestricted distribution.

If you called your variety "Steve's San Diego Cropper" and you distributed F2-F6 seeds to random people, then by the time you get to F8, there will be dozens of different strains of it with varying degrees of quality and traits out there. Who has the "real" one? Some of the recipients of your seeds may widely distribute their own strain of your variety and overshadow your work.

It's a fine line allowing or disallowing distribution of F2-F6 seeds while a variety is segregating out. On the plus side, varieties that may fall outside the focus of the project organizer would have a chance to continue developing. On the negative side, you have the potential for dilution and confusion as mentioned above.
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Old May 5, 2013   #19
Heritage
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Great replies, all-the-way-around, especially given the subjectivity involved in the given scenarios

I will be considering your remarks when I (re)design my personal vendor model this upcoming season.

Thanks again,
Steve
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Old May 5, 2013   #20
bower
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The OP tomato seed market has a lot of similarities to the present music industry. The product can be obtained free and replicated at will without any payment to the creator. The up side is that people who really appreciate the product but don't have money at the time can enjoy it, and also raise the profile of the product because of their enthusiasm. Although there isn't a material return from those users, it builds reputation which is valuable to the professional breeder in the long haul. Obviously though, the overall returns are not at all equal to those for hybrid seeds, and never will be.

I like your model, Steve. When I look at your site and see that a percentage is returned to the breeder, it makes me want to buy the seed from you, if I can't from the originator.
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Old May 6, 2013   #21
Heritage
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Quote:
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I like your model, Steve. When I look at your site and see that a percentage is returned to the breeder, it makes me want to buy the seed from you, if I can't from the originator.
My model was originally inspired by Carol Knapp and the royalties she paid to a certain breeder a few years back. I'm not sure if she still does it, but, at the time, I thought it was a genuine, thoughtful gesture. Certainly no breeder is going to get rich on the royalties I, or any single vendor pays them, regardless of the percentage. (e.g., my 2013 royalty check to Fred Hempel for sales of 'Blush' won't even buy him a double latte) However, if every vendor paid a small royalty to breeders, it would total a nice income and possibly provide an incentive to develop new OP varieties.


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Old May 6, 2013   #22
simmran1
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Steve,

I’m neither a hybridizer or vendor, but there have been responses from others that don’t meet this criteria.

I can only add that C.R. Lawn of FEDCO has seed distribution agreements.
Legalize or handshake buddy-buddy setups probably apply to demand, or potential demand, which he might share by request.

The problem- (for income), as stated before, is with O-P seeds being non-protected.
I really cannot fathom the latest and best open-pollinated tomato plant becoming the next ‘Big Boy’ of America. IMHO -Randy
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Old May 6, 2013   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fusion_power View Post
Hate to rain on the party, but you are all missing the most fundamental parts. How much time and effort went into developing the new variety? What benefits does it offer to the grower?

If I spend 8 years making complex crosses to introgress 5 disease tolerance traits into a fabulously good flavored tomato that looks and tastes like Lucky Cross, then I might expect more compensation than the average person who has a new tomato that happens to be round, red, highly productive, and decent flavored. In other words, I want to be paid for the sweat equity.

What about the benefits to the consumer? Would they pay a premium to get a fabulously pretty worry free tomato with fantastic flavor?

The simple reality is that no professional breeder can afford to develop a variety under the conditions given above. The time and effort involved simply can't be recovered from an open pollinated variety. This is why commercially developed tomatoes are all hybrids.

In the end, what you have to do is beat the Rutgers mafia. This is the group of OP tomato lines that are already available that have most of the traits being discussed above. You have to come up with a Green Zebra or something similarly novel and useful. Then you have to market it effectively.

DarJones
I'm thinking of niche/boutique varieties like Blush, Maglia Rosa, the new Tigers & Bumblebees that Fred/Mark have released. I think these do have good value for the grower & consumer, even if they were not bred specifically with disease resistance in mind. I have to believe that it's hard if not impossible to turn the work of creating these kinds of OP lines into a reasonable return.

I totally agree that if your goal is making money at breeding developing F1's is the only game that works.
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Old May 6, 2013   #24
travis
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If your intent is to make (anything approaching serious) money off your breeding efforts, I can only think to offer the following suggestions:

Don't free-share your F1 seeds with anyone.

Don't free-share your F2 or early f-gen, still segregating lines.

Don't distribute for free your finished, stable lines.

Create your own Web site, and sell your seeds for 100% of the gross.

Go to the expense of PVP-ing your best stuff.

Only distribute seeds for cooperative grow-outs under rock solid contractual seed agreements.

Only sell seeds to seed vendors in small bulk lots under exclusive agreement deals at 25 to 33% of retail price (or some similar "consignment" price point).

Or only sell F1 hybrid seed at 50c to $1.00 per seed.

Or only sell plants at the highest price the market will bear.

Last edited by travis; May 6, 2013 at 11:31 AM.
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Old May 6, 2013   #25
Boutique Tomatoes
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Heritage View Post
My model was originally inspired by Carol Knapp and the royalties she paid to a certain breeder a few years back. I'm not sure if she still does it, but, at the time, I thought it was a genuine, thoughtful gesture. Certainly no breeder is going to get rich on the royalties I, or any single vendor pays them, regardless of the percentage. (e.g., my 2013 royalty check to Fred Hempel for sales of 'Blush' won't even buy him a double latte) However, if every vendor paid a small royalty to breeders, it would total a nice income and possibly provide an incentive to develop new OP varieties.


Steve
Yours and Carol's is the model I've explained to the kids when we've talked about selling seeds & plants.

I described it as no different than with software, we make the investment in time to write something, then everyone who wants it pays a fee rather than trying to create it themselves.

The advantage with software is you can put a license key on it, where you have to go with F1's from secret parents to do the same for seeds.
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Old May 6, 2013   #26
Redbaron
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I am not so sure about all this. Some very valid points. Don't get me wrong. But we are talking business models here.

To me the issue with a breeder making a business model with OP is that it is a specialized small market with fierce competition that can be easily "stolen" by simply saving seeds.

BUT That assumes your business model includes mainly seeds as its primary revenue stream. I believe, (I have no proof as I haven't done it personally) the best way to restructure the business model is to view it simply as a revenue stream that is part of many related revenue streams. Seeds, seedlings, and tomatoes at market, and possibly even processed product.

I think that is where "peppadew" found a niche. Sure we can grow them, but the manufactured product of peppadew pickled peppers still makes the company money. So if you take that model and throw out the unsavory parts of it, keep the good parts of the model, and combine it with actual breeding of new varieties. Then add up the many income streams resulting (even though some of those income streams may be small). I think it is possible to develop a business model that way.
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Old May 6, 2013   #27
Boutique Tomatoes
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I doubt that any of the independant breeders are planning on retiring from the revenue derived from seed sales, but it's an unfortunate reality that the work of growing out 7-8 generations of a cross to arrive at a unique new product is easily given away once the seed has been released and grown out by others.

Steve's question was what would be fair. My personal opinion would be closer to 15-20% of net sales going to the breeder for X number of years after release, with a decreasing scale after that for scenarios 1 & 2. Steve's scenario 3 and my scenario 4 are more murky and I honestly don't know the answer for those as I don't think they're really viable 'business' models but more indicative of an hobbiest situation.
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Old May 6, 2013   #28
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Quote:
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I doubt that any of the independent breeders are planning on retiring from the revenue derived from seed sales ...
No. People should plan for retirement. But even with careful planning, the post 2009 crash reality is that 12 to 20% of most folks' retirement savings disappeared whether thru recession or inflation.

As a consequence, some of us find ourselves comfortably retired, other than needing just a mite more income to pay for our Medicare supplementals :::wink:::
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Old May 7, 2013   #29
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I like the music analogy. Let me take it one step further. Independent breeders are like garage bands, or unknown YouTube performers who are trying to create music. They spend considerable time and energy working on their craft, and occasionally they get paid pocket change or drinks for their efforts.

Discussing how to make money being a garage band is a frustrating exercise. Although many garage bands are creative -- the best case scenario for making money is probably limited to becoming a "cover" band and playing expensive weddings (something tangential to actually creating music).

Motivations for independent breeding are varied and I would guess money is not a top priority for most. However, I would guess that some of us do dream of creating a tomato that somehow opens doors that are typically closed. But, our chances of making money breeding are probably about as high as being the next Justin Bieber (a YouTube discovery by record execs, for those who don't know).

I don't really think there is a formula, although Travis' suggestions are reasonable.



Quote:
Originally Posted by bower View Post
The OP tomato seed market has a lot of similarities to the present music industry. The product can be obtained free and replicated at will without any payment to the creator. The up side is that people who really appreciate the product but don't have money at the time can enjoy it, and also raise the profile of the product because of their enthusiasm. Although there isn't a material return from those users, it builds reputation which is valuable to the professional breeder in the long haul. Obviously though, the overall returns are not at all equal to those for hybrid seeds, and never will be.

I like your model, Steve. When I look at your site and see that a percentage is returned to the breeder, it makes me want to buy the seed from you, if I can't from the originator.
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Old May 10, 2013   #30
maf
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If independent tomato breeders wish to make any money from their creations (edit: after the first year of sale) they will need to avoid the OP route, this much is clear.

The only route to compensation i can see is in the creation of boutique F1 varieties.

Last edited by maf; May 10, 2013 at 09:27 PM.
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