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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Background

In thread: http://www.survivalistboards.com/showthread.php?t=931 Kev discusses collecting seeds from your plants.

We have had multiple threads on hybrid vs. heirloom seeds and in my research there has been varying claims about the viability of seeds from hybrids. The claims range fromt he seeds being sterile to some seeds being viable to plants grown from hybrid seeds not being what was originally planted.

I decided to see how this applied to my spinach plants.

Experiment

I allowed some of the spinach I had planted to bolt. The spinach was 'Bloomsdale Long Standing' form OSC with a use before date of Dec. '08. The package does not say hybrid, but because it does not say 'heirloom' either I am assuming it's hybrid.

I collected fresh seed from the bolt stems and placed them on a plate between damp paper towel. A day later I took some seeds left in the original package and also placed them on a plate between damp paper towel as the control for the experiment.

I then monitored progress.

Result

(see picture attachments)

Almost all of the seeds from the package seeds sprouted. Almost none of the fresh collected seeds did. The couple of fresh collected seeds that did sprout did not do so as vigourously (sp?) as the seeds from the package.

Next Steps

- I collected additional seeds and let them dry for a couple of days. I am repeating the experiment with the dried ones.

- I will plant the seeds that sprouted from fresh collected, grow the plant and let it bolt, collect the seeds and repeat the experiment.

- I have placed some of the collected seeds and some from the package in the freezer. I will test again in about a week with seeds that had been frozen (Kev's suggestion).

Cheers,
-Per
 

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Wild Wild... East
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Per,
In my opinion, the germination is not an issue at the seeds come from the hybrids.
The real issue is vitality and production potential of the seed with hybrid origins (seeds harvest from hybrid plants). In this case, the seeds have almost same germination like heirloom seeds, but the production potential is at alf at least.
One of the concludent experiment is with corn. The results are obtain growing the one hybrid and heirloom corn for same crop conditions:
- heirloom seeds (S) of corn, regular production ~6000 kg/hectar(10000sqmeters, about 2.5 acres)
- parent seeds (P, seeds from witch is made hybrid seeds) ~2500 kg/hectar
- hybrid seeds (H) ~13000 kg/hectar
- seeds obtain by saving seeds from first crop of hybrid seeds (H2) ~5000 kg/hectar
- seeds obtain by saving seeds from previous line (H3) ~3000 kg/hectar

The conclusion is symple. If you have the posibility to procure hybrid seeds, this seed have the best potential. If you don't have this posibility, better use heirloom seeds, than to use seeds with hybrid origins.

Now, it is somehow easy to make your hybrids (i saw a man who somehow make a empiric selection and have own "hybrids", with very good production potential) but for most of the crops you must have a very good field isolation. Also, if you want to preserve for more generation the potential of heirloom seeds you need a isolation area. And, take out from the field the plants with poor potential.

Now, one of the best plants for heirloom seeds is wheat (with all the relatives). Also, good results have soya (also bean, pea and relatives), cucumber, tomatoes (very carefuly with isolation space here), cabbage, salad, carrot, cress.

But, if you don't know how to save seeds from potatoes, better you don't try.

Bogdan
PS When the world will be finish, my principal barter item will be seeds. The best seeds in the area;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Bogdan,

Thank you for your post. May I ask some questions?

1) Does the trend for production continue downward for subsequent generations of seeds from hybrid sources (H4, ... Hx)? Does it bottom out at some point (e.g., the 2500kg/hectar of parent seeds)?

2) Has this trend been demonstrated for crops other than corn? If so, is the trend similar or does it vary depending on the crop? Are there crops where seeds from hybrids do continue to produce well?

3) How does one create hybrid seeds?

4) Can you expand on field isolation? Is this just a matter of distance from crops the plants could cross pollinate with?

(notice how I made a bunch of questions look like just 4...? ;) )

Thanks for any enlightment you can provide.

Cheers,
-Per
 

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Wild Wild... East
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Per,
I will answer as much i know on all the questions regareding seeds production.
1) The seeds production will be stabilize arround 2500-3000 kg/hectar. This limit will be exceeded if you will introduce in the field some other seeds, to make a new "hybrid", but when you will stop to introduce new genetics in the fiels, the production will drop. Don't forghet, the minimum limit of 2500 kg/hectar is made on one consanguineous line.
2) I study only corn and sunflower (as a part of my job, once...). I saw also on my garden a huge drop of harvest on hybrid tomatoes. When i speak with some of my colegues, they say me the harvest drop is present (more or less) on each hybrid crop.
3) I will post an articole in one of the days. As a principle, you combine 2 or more genetic lines. But, to make this lines to be stable, it is a long story. Also, to preserve the lines specific features.
4) Yes, the field isolation is the distance between your field and the nearest field with the same crop, or related (as an example, the sugar corn, reular corn and popcorn are in the same family and they are genetic compatible). This distance is different from crop to crop, from sunflower with 3000 meters recomended, to wheat with 50 cm accepted. Also, they are a lot of tips to decrease this distances (forest curtains, more father plants in the part with same crop, some dedicated isolation crops, the way of how to put in the field the bees hives).
Please, feel free to put me all the questions you have. It is possible to forghet some things...
 

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Per, have any more of the seeds you collected from the spinach plant sprouted?

From my experience, if the seeds have not sprouted within a week of soaking on a wet paper towel, they are not going to sprout.

How many days has it been and how many have sprouted?
 

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Wild Wild... East
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All,
I try to make a short note about hybridization, but i found here what i want to say.
http://edugreen.teri.res.in/explore/bio/breed.htm

Per,
To make you own hybrids is not a hard work. Simply select the plants you want to keep (the plants hight, or small, or drought resistant, etc), save seed from them and plant this seeds in the same field. if you combine the seeds from 2 or more field or from different sources, the results are better. But dont forghet something; in the first season, you select the plants, in the second season you obtain hybrid seeds who will produce in the third season.
As for me, i have a huge luck. I has acces on the obsolete genetic lines of one of the biggest seeds producer and save some of them (i know also how to maintain these lines). Now, i can produce my own hybrids, when i need. This hybrids don't produce so much as modern hybrids, but produce more than heirloom seeds.

Bogdan
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Per, have any more of the seeds you collected from the spinach plant sprouted?

From my experience, if the seeds have not sprouted within a week of soaking on a wet paper towel, they are not going to sprout.

How many days has it been and how many have sprouted?
As of today (july 25) it has been 6 days for the collected seeds and 5 days for the packaged seeds. (The pics were taken at 5 days and 4 days respectively.)

I too doubt the ones that haven't sprouted yet will. I will give them a few more days just to see though.

Cheers,
-Per.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Bit of a tagent while I hijack my own thread for a second.

The discussions of seeds, collection and storage reminds me of a story on CBC radio the other day. Apparantly one of the largest (if not the largest) seed sample collections in the world is in Canada (Saskatoon Saskatchewan).

They have over 110,000 seed samples. What really caught my attention though was the sheer number of distinct varieties of wheat (13,000), oat (32,000) and barley (43,000) there was.

http://pgrc3.agr.gc.ca/holdings-stocks_e.html

End of tangent.

Cheers,
-Per.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
This experiment ended when I neglected to attend to the seeds for a day or two and they dried up. However, I think that the interesting part of the experiment was esssentially over.

I had also planted some heritage tomatos (memorial polish) and an currently doing the same things with seeds I collected from them. BTW, while these are tomatos are known as a paste tomato because of the copious amount of flesh and limited number of seeds, I found them to be a great tasting tomato too. Thick slice with a bit of salt and pepper....mmmmmm...

Cheers,
-Per.
 

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I come from a farming family. All the field corn is a hybrid, and every year after a corn crop, there is what we call voluntier corn that grows from any spilled corn. the plants are small and weak, and never amount to anything.
 
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