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Hybrid vs. Open-Pollinated and Heirloom Seeds

This is the time of year that many gardeners start planning their spring gardens. It can be helpful to know the difference between hybrid, and open-pollinated (OP) seeds. The OP seeds are the best choice if seeds from the fruits will be saved and replanted the following year. The produce from OP seeds often tastes better, but the plants may not have the disease resistance that hybrids do. All heirlooms are OP, so the two words are often used synonymously. The main difference is that heirloom seeds are OP and also designated by age: plants between 50-150 years old.

Commercial F1 hybrid varieties are popular, they have been created for better yields and improved disease resistance. They did this through selective breeding by cross-pollinating two different parent varieties. The seed of hybrid fruits should not be saved to grow the following year. Seed saved from hybrids will either be sterile or the plants of the next generation may show wide variation in characteristics, uniformity and maturity.

There is a place for both hybrid and OP/ heirloom seeds in the garden, and it is important to know the difference between them.  A good balance of these two in the garden will increase the dividends for DIY food producers.

Sandia Seed will never sell GMO seeds.