What if the seed packet doesn't say?

pushindirt(z8 OR)December 21, 2007

I purchased some veggie seeds on sale for 19cents each. I didn't see on the packet if they were hybrid or heirloom. Is it the variety that designates it, or can a certain variety be either? Thanks,


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There are two keys. 1. Hybrid seeds are much more expensive than open pollinated seeds and will almost always be designated as hybrids on the package. 2. Because of the cost factor almost all of the "cheap" seeds will be open pollinated. " Heirloom" is a somewhat ambiguous term with about as many definitions as as there are people. Most of the time tho, such seeds will be commercial open pollinated varieties. While all "heirlooms are OP, not all OP's are heirlooms.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2007 at 8:38AM
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pushindirt(z8 OR)

I ask this because one of them is "Beefsteak" which I thought was a hybrid. It does not say anywhere on the packet.
It's from Plantation products (American Seed)

    Bookmark   December 22, 2007 at 12:49PM
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Beefsteak is an alternate name for the old Henderson's Red Scarlet) Ponderosa also know as Crimson Cushion. It started the term for the beefsteak type, because when sliced it looked to many like the comic strip beefsteak applied to black eyes by 30's comic strip characters. American seed still puts out a good product, but all popular open pollinated cultivars.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2007 at 5:07PM
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response to "farmerdilla"
...so is "Beefsteak" and other Plantation Product are heirlooms?

    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 2:14AM
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...so is "Beefsteak" and other Plantation Product are heirlooms?

NOT Necessarily!

It means that 99.99% of American Seeds seed packets contain varieties that are Open Pollinated as opposed to varieties which are not.

All heirloom seeds are also open pollinated. But just because a seed is open pollinated does not make it an Heirloom.


The definition of the use of the word heirloom to describe plants is highly debated.

One school of thought places an age or date point on the cultivars. For instance, one school says that the seeds must be over 100 years old, others 50 years, and others prefer the date of 1945 which marks the end of World War II and roughly the beginning of widespread hybrid use by growers and seed companies or industrial agriculture. It was in the 1970s that hybrid seeds began to proliferate in the commercial seed trade.

Another way of defining heirloom cultivars is to use the definition of the word "heirloom" in its truest sense. Under this interpretation, a true heirloom is a cultivar that has been nurtured, selected, and handed down from one family member to another for many generations.

Additionally, there is another category of cultivars that could be classified as "commercial heirlooms," cultivars that were introduced many generations ago and were of such merit that they have been saved, maintained and handed down - even if the seed company has gone out of business or otherwise dropped the line. Additionally, many old commercial releases have actually been family heirlooms that a seed company obtained and introduced.

Regardless of a person's specific interpretation, most authorities agree that heirlooms, by definition, must be open-pollinated. They may also be open pollinated varieties that were bred and stabilized using classic breeding practices.
End Quote
source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heirloom_tomato

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 5:32PM
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