Growing vegetables from seed? Should You Choose Open Pollinated or Hybrid Seeds?

hybrid corn seed diagramWhen one plant variety is cross-pollinated with another plant variety in the same species, the resulting plant is a hybrid of the two parent plants. A gardener growing corn may try two different varieties, finding that one corn variety produces more ears of corn while the other is more wind resistant because of its sturdy stalks. The farmer can take the pollen from the higher yielding corn and fertilize the flowers of the sturdy-stalk corn. The resulting Seeds will have characteristics from both of its’ parent plants, ideally a high-yielding corn with strong stalks. These Seeds are F1 Hybrid seeds (remember biology class? first generation Hybrid!) Sounds magical right?

Hybrid Seeds can produce greater results than open pollinated seeds, be it in yield, disease resistance, drought tolerance, height or other characteristics. However, Hybrid Seeds are not suited to seed saving. Hybrids have a tendency to revert to one parent or the other’s genetic qualities over time. Pollination diagram open pollinated seedsYou cannot produce predictable future generations from Hybrid seed (generations F2, F3 etc.), as you can with Open Pollinated Seeds. If you are looking to grow vegetables, to let them produce seeds, save those seeds and then grow the same plant year after year, then stick with Open Pollinated seeds. These are the same as the beans your grandparents passed down to you from their kitchen garden.

The choice is yours! Happy vegetable gardening from seed. Leave a comment below and share your experiences.