The 2004 hurricanes caused more problems than met the eye, even when we were living their aftermath. For one thing, the 2004 seeds sprouted abysmally after the storms (see What Makes Victoria Seeds Sprout -- or Not, Revisited). For another, not just were our parent plants buried, but so were smaller plants that we had coming along or stalled. For several months we had no time to start more so we began our growing season at a more conventional time, early spring.
This was not a big factor for V. cruziana or the primary hybrids, but it certainly was for V. amazonica! In the winter of 2003-2004, we were very successful carrying as number of plants over the winter as juveniles or graduates (see Survivor Paradise). We got an early start on the 2004 growing season and collected most of our seeds before the storms. We had a good distribution of selfed and crossed species, and of primary and backcross hybrids in hand.
In 2005, the amazonicas lagged far behind the cruzianas in blooming and several didn't bloom at all. The result was few hybrid seeds. Cruziana tends to make its biggest pods fairly early in its bloom period so, by the time we had amazonica for crossing, the cruzianas were in decline. This may well be why breeders in more northerly areas have difficulty making hybrid seeds, something we have hypothesized before.
Along the same line, amazonica produces a certain number
of flowers, matures those pods, and then, if the weather is reasonably
good, it will produce another group of blooms. Cruziana
flowers continuously, with the first few flowers often sterile.
Then it makes its big flowers and pods. As the plant shrinks,
pods are smaller and smaller.
So the trick seems to be to give amazonica a head start, even a year, to stall and hold plants as "graduates", and to get them installed in the pond as early as weather permits. The pattern of spontaneous sprouting seems to parallel this idea, as amazonica germinates fairly well in fall and winter and slows down in spring. This head start for amazonica ought to provide the best chance for the race to be close at the end, with both species flowering at the same time.