Cross-pollination and stability

chilliwin(EU DK 7)January 2, 2013

Many people had experiences of cross-pollinated seeds or unstable specie of chili plants, many of us got frustration when we found that the fruits are different from the one it suppose to be.

I have a couple of questions regarding this matter. For example if I have a plant not pure ghost or habanero it is mixed of Ghost + Habanero just let us called it GH.
If I use the seeds from the unstable GH then what kinds of plant it is going to be? The plant should be different from the GH because it is unstable I think. So is it going to be a habanero or ghost? OR How long this plan going to be a limbo chili plant?


This post was edited by chilliwin on Thu, Jan 3, 13 at 15:31

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If you start seeds saved from a "GH" cross, each seed may produce a slightly different child. It all depends upon the genes they inherited.

If you get 1 child plant that produces the characteristics you're looking for and collect its seeds, you will need to grow (and collect seeds from subsequent children that exhibit the characteristics) for 7 more generations to get 99.2% stable seeds.

The link below explains this well. It uses tomatoes plants but it works the same for peppers.

Here is a link that might be useful: Gene basics

    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 5:19PM
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chilliwin(EU DK 7)

Hello Ottawapepper, thank you for the information and the very interesting useful link.



    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 7:02PM
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Yeah, its really hard to tell what you will get because of all the recessive genes that would be in play. Its entirely possible that your cross-pollinated hybrid could turn around and spit back out a pure bhut, a pure hab, or anything in between.

Its why new pepper strains are generally required to be at least f(8) (the 8th generation) before they can be claimed to be stable, as that drops the odds of an unexpected combination showing back up down to less than 1 percent. Even then its not *really* stable until around f(12).

Until then, its a bit of a grab bag as to what you'll get.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 9:01AM
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chilliwin(EU DK 7)

Thank you Edymnion for the information.
After I have read the Carolina Reaper thread then this idea of cross-pollination and stability came to my mind and I posted this subject.

I am not against the hybrid or creating a new line of product but I love the original pure breed I do not like to lose it. I was very surprised to know that the Ghost chilies (red) are also hybrid. The cross-pollination of Ghost may be happened naturally.



    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 11:14AM
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I see a lot of people say their cross is stable after 8 growouts.
Problem is 3 growouts weren't stable.
I believe you need 8 growouts once the hybrid LOOKS stable.
Not just picking similar looking pods from several plants then the first couple that seem to grow uniform pods etc. are the ones you start growing the 8 generations of.
I had a plant that took 4 or 5 generations before it decided to go crazy on me.
It originally was seed from a strain of 7 pot that is considered stable.
Hardly any one grows stuff out long enough these days to really see if it's stable.
Too much $ changing hands for seeds these days.

To top it off,a lot of times the original plants used in the hybrid weren't pure or are of questionable heritage...
2 parent plants of questionable heritage were crossed to make a hybrid.
No wonder people can't repeat some of their original crosses these days.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 11:45AM
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esox07 (4b)

I think Smoke is right. I would assume that unless the grow outs are done in a very controlled environment, you stand too much risk in 8 generations of introducing another hybrid. Or someone grows three or four generations out with success but then one of the plants has a recessive gene (low heat) show up and the grower doesn't catch it but harvests seeds from it and then seeds (plants) with that trait starts all over contaminating the whole process. I would think that for the average grower to try to do this outside in his back yard with several other species growing in the same area is asking for trouble trying to keep it pure for 7 or 8 generations. There is a serious time investment there.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 12:26PM
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I am ready to make the investment. Habjolokia pepper starting this season, the cross begins. I guess after 8 years I would would hope to have a somewhat stable pepper cross ;-)

Isolate each flower that I hand cross pollinate, mark them as my crosses
Cross from X plant to Y plant also cross Y with X to see what the F1 of the two has the traits that I want
look for favorable traits between the two F1's
Select the peppers that will go to F2
Work on stabilizing the new cross
Go to at least F9 with the stable cross
Start over if its unsuccessful at any point


    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 12:50PM
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chilliwin(EU DK 7)

Thank you Smokemaster and Bruce for your explanation, I agreed with it.

Is it possible natural cross-pollination between C. Chinense and C. Annuum? My friend did not accept Ghost chili is hybrid. Her argument is, it is only the possible cause of hybrid will be if it is possible hybrid between c. chinense and c. annuum. Her argument is reasonable because there were no any other super hot c. chinense chilies to her states in the past but they have super hot c. annumm very small size like pequin with sweet flavor. They have grown ghost from the time immemorable. She has also questions about the parents of ghost if it is hybrid. I am not able to answer it because I am not an expert.

Good luck Mark, I will wait to buy seeds from you :)or let me be the first to try it :).


This post was edited by chilliwin on Thu, Jan 3, 13 at 14:36

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 1:38PM
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esox07 (4b)

Question: I am assuming it would not necessarily take 9 years to get an F9 supposedly stable seed. Could a guy not simply grow them indoors or in a green house and harvest as soon as they get a ripe pod and then dry and regrow that one right away. It seems you could cut the time down to near half that way. Or am I missing something?

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 2:45PM
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I've done that, myself, esox. My climate allows a narrow, but usable, 2-per-season summer crop grow/harvest window and I've used that window to produce 2 generations in a single year.

With a climate controlled greenhouse some crops (such as peppers) can be grown year-round and go through 3+ generations in a single year. If you use plant culture techniques (such as anther culture) in conjunction with climate controlled growing you can rush it even more.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 4:14PM
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Hey Bruce yes can be done just as nc-crn stated. Additionally seed do not have to dry out to then be planted. For me it's an awesome hobby so no greenhouses...... Yet. I can dream though. So for me it will be yearly :-(


    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 4:25PM
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This post was worth the price of admission! Thanks chilliwin for bringing this up, and thanks to all who have provided information! One hybrid pepper I really like for size and heat in general terms (not many super hot-heads here) is Biker Billy. It is a consistent f1 from Burpee and is an "exclusive" which means $$ every couple of years to keep growing. I let pods go ripe red this year. It was hard to do, because I like them green, but I saved some of those seeds. My question: Will they all revert back to a parent plant, or may I get lucky and have an f2?

I'm not looking for a definite answer, but an educated guess from anyone who may have tried this before.

And why are their BB f1's so reliable? None I have ever grown have showed any discrepancies, not that I am complaining.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 4:34PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

I would guess that they must be true, at least in the early generations, or Burpee wouldn't be able to supply. They would have to cross-pollinate reliably, or have enough F1 parents to supply demand on their own, without F2s, which I doubt.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 4:48PM
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I had been given a Ristra Cayenne hybrid pepper. I took the seeds and grew them out. Results were not the same, looked like a bloted cayenne and were smaller in size. The features were gone or not as promenent as the pepper I took the seeds from. Also germination rate was bad. So you may have the same results.


    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 5:01PM
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Thanks DM. I'm sure going to give them a try just to see.

habjolokia, I've seen your posts and I would love an Armageddon/habojolika crossed seed or two to start! That would be one crazy Frankenpepper! I have a lot of seeds to try to start.

So one positive and one negative so far. Interesting!

If Homer could make a tomacco...

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 5:29PM
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It will take a Minimum of 8 generations to get a stable cross,IF you're real lucky.

Chances are you'll have to go through several generations just to get a cross that is any where near what you are looking for,or even grows similar to the 2nd generation.

Also I'd grow several plants from your original cross per season.

Each seed could have different traits etc.

By growing several plants all in isolation you might get a better chance at getting a cross that can be stable and have what you want your cross to be like.

Try to cross one of the giant bell or sweets with a super hot to get basket ball super hots.

This post was edited by smokemaster_2007 on Thu, Jan 3, 13 at 21:07

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 8:04PM
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chilliwin(EU DK 7)

Thank you Calcat36.

Always I feel lucky to be here, our forum has so many experts on so many different subjects and their willingness to share their experiences and knowledge are so valuable to me.

Before I have seen this code "F1, F2..." but I did not know what it means, so I used a simple non-existence code GH to explain what I meant :) now I have learned from our members.
I have learned more detail about cross pollination from Ottoapper's link "Gene Basics". Some of our members give us a lot of good interesting links to us that is so nice, some are motivational and some are educational. This forum is a kind of educational places for me now.

I like super hot chilies with natural looks, for fresh eating mainly. Chili is a kind of appetizer for me. I had experience of fresh ghost chili and I never thought about getting fresh ghost again. Now I am going to get it this season:))



    Bookmark   January 4, 2013 at 5:14AM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

> "I had experience of fresh ghost chili and I never thought about getting fresh ghost again. Now I am going to get it this season:)"

So you were sane for a while. What went wrong?

    Bookmark   January 4, 2013 at 1:24PM
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Yeah, what exactly constitutes the F8 generation depends a lot on what you consider to be the true base of the line. On one hand, you could say the F1 generation is the one directly resulting from the two pure breeds you crossed, but by F8 there's no telling where you will be from that point. Probably just a fairly common looking pepper (as the unique appearance of many peppers is a direct result of their breeding).

A better starting point for the generations would be once you have achieved the pepper you want (right size, color, heat, etc) and count that as the F1 and ignore all the generations of cross breeding it took you to reach that point.

For example, I've seen where other people have crossed bhuts with bells, and they basically look like jalapenos to me. One could say thats an F1 generation cross, but really all you've done (IMO) is recreate the jalapeno. If you wanted something the shape of a bell with the heat of a bhut, you'd need to do a *LOT* more breeding until you actually got that result, and then stabilize that.

Thats the definition I tend to use for myself, 8 generations that are the *same*. When you can compare the F8 and it looks the same as the F1, congratulations, you've created a new pepper strain.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2013 at 2:18PM
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chilliwin(EU DK 7)

Hi DMForcier,

I am sorry my post is going to be different from the subject.

When I was very young I ate ghost chili, it was very long time ago. I never dreamed and expected ghost chili will be available outside India. I miss the fresh ghost chili so much but I never thought the possibility to grow here.

Only in 2011 one of my friends here told me ghost chili is Guinness Book of World record holder and available in UK. I was not serious that time too, only I thought a couple of guys may have grown ghost.

In 2012 I started to know the ghost chili is one of the most popular super hot chilies in the world. Now I knew we have a lot of chili enthusiasts. We love to grow and share our experiences.

I am eagerly waiting the coming season to see my ghosts.

Thank you Edymnion for your inputs. I do not wish to do cross hybrid any chilies intentionally but I am very curious. I am very glad to know all these interesting information of cross pollination and stability of the hybrid chilies.

You guys pardon me English is not easy for me.


    Bookmark   January 4, 2013 at 4:49PM
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I just looked at the Biker Billy seed. At $4.95 for 30 seeds, that's sixteen cents per plant. Considering what you get from a plant, I'd call that a deal. I expect that Burpee put a lot of money into developing the line. You can pay them a fair price for their trouble, or you can spend years of time and many hours of labor, trying to avoid sixteen cents per plant. How much do you pay for a single beer, or an order of french fries? By paying Burpee for their trouble, you also encourage them to keep developing new lines you'll also like.

If you just want to get into plant breeding, have at it. Good hobby.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2013 at 8:57PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

Caelian, I find your English charming.

I too am looking forward to my first ghosts this year. (No, I'm not sane.)

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 5:12PM
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