All-America Selections (AAS) has a 80+ year history of being the only independent North American trialing organization that trials new varieties then grants branded awards to the best performers. That 80-year history has proven to be a good model with trialing protocols that have been refined to withstand the test of time and basics that will work with perennial entries as well as annuals and edibles.
Perennial Plant Association (PPA) is a trade association composed of growers, retailers, educators, landscape designers and contractors that are professionally involved in the herbaceous perennial industry. Together, the two organizations have determined the details necessary to conduct a thorough and horticulturally sound perennial trial and PPA actively endorses this new AAS trial.
The perennial trial will follow many of the basics of the recently launched AAS Vegetative Ornamental trial. Entries accepted will be herbaceous perennials propagated from seed, cutting, tissue culture or bare root. A seed entry can be trialed against a vegetative or TC comparison and vice-versa. Entries will be trialed next to comparisons, in order to continue the AAS legacy.
The primary difference with the AAS Herbaceous Perennial trial is that it will be a three winter trial allowing the AAS judges to measure and record winter survivability and subsequent growing season performance. Other AAS trial entries will continue to be trialed over one growing season. Breeders who wish to have their herbaceous perennials tested for first-season performance can continue to use the one-season trial. All other herbaceous perennials would be placed in the three year perennial trial.
For the long-term, entries have to be new, never-before-sold, but, after submission to the AAS Herbaceous Perennial Trial, they may be introduced commercially. After the trial is completed, if the entry scores high enough to be become an AAS Winner, after criteria is met and the announcement is made by AAS, the breeder may then market that variety as an AAS Winner.
However, for the first entry year (entries submitted by July 1), AAS will accept entries that have been on the market for twelve months or less.
Dallas Arboretum Director of Horticulture and AAS Judge, Board of Director and Perennial Trial Task Force member Jenny Wegley comments: “I’m very happy to have helped All-America Selections get to this point of trialing perennials. Because of an 80+ year history in doing great plant trials, this is a natural step and a great service to the industry and to home gardeners. It will be very interesting to trial the perennial entries we receive then share the results.”
“National perennial trials are important for both the industry and the consumer. As a previous trial program director and AAS Trials Judge, I know how important it is to have the program properly structured and managed nationally. Rather than have both organizations (PPA & AAS) develop competing perennial trail programs, it seemed the perfect solution was to instead team up and work together. We think this collaboration is the key to finally executing a highly organized, thorough and well-marketed perennial trial program that will benefit both PPA members and their customers.” PPA Southern Regional Director and Board of Directors Trials Chair, AAS Perennial Trial Task Force Member, Leslie F. Halleck.
The pilot program of trialing perennials will begin immediately with entries due July 1. Those entries will be sent to approximately 24 trial sites beginning in early 2016. The first AAS Winners from the Perennial Trials will be announced in 2019.