Hybrids or Hierlooms

Hybrid seeds are produced by intentional cross-pollination. They have been around awhile. A decade ago, I was trying an open pollinated sweet corn variety. My father was visiting and I asked him about growing non-hybrid (open pollinated) corn. He farmed his whole life and was born in 1928. He told me he had only planted hybrid corn, but he knew his father had grown corn before hybrids came out.

In the past decade heirloom seeds have gained popularity. Heirlooms are non-hybrid varieties that allow a grower to save seeds and get offspring that match the parent. Hybrid seeds, because they have been cross-bred, will not produce plants of the same variety in the next generation. So my father never saved seeds of corn he grew to plant the following year. Hybrid users depend on seed companies to produce what they plant. Growers of heirloom varieties can save seeds for the following year if they wish.

Often hybrid varieties have been bred for increased yield, appearance, shipping quality, and disease resistance. These traits were selected over flavor in many cases. So heirloom varieties of tomatoes often have better flavor than hybrids. The tomatoes and all the seeds I plant this year will be open pollinated heirlooms with one exception. I like heirloom flavors and the independence of saving my own seeds.

Sweet corn is my exception. I’ve tried two open pollinated varieties. But I get bigger and sweeter ears with hybrids. I have very limited space where I can grow sweet corn and protect it from the early harvesters (raccoons and squirrels). So I’m going with what works best for me

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