Cross Pollination

roger33(7)December 28, 2009

I'm new to growing peppers and seed saving. I've been reading that peppers cross pollinate rather easily. If I grow 3 different varieties planted next to each other in a row, would the seeds I save be the same as what was planted? Would I need to plant only 1 variety in order to have seeds true to the original?

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spiced_ham(z5 OH)

If an insect visits the flower with pollen from another plant the resultant pepper will have a mix of self and crossed seeds in it. Pollinators visit many plants and fly quite a distance so as long as you are growing different peppers on the same property/garden there is a good chance that the polinators will be covered in pollen from all of them. It is quite easy to buy a yard or two of tulle netting at a fabric store and make bags big enough for young plants (if you can't sew, you can staple the sides together), and after a few fruit have set mark them and move the bag to a different plant.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 2:33PM
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In addition to spiced ham's feedback, the species you plant will increase or decrease the chance of cross pollination.

See link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cross pollination chart

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 4:18PM
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Thanks for the chart. That's interesting.

So once the plant has set fruit after being covered, those fruit are the ones I use for seed?

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 1:17AM
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    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 8:51AM
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Sorry guys, I am missing the point here. Just exactly what will the bags accomplish?



    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 6:36PM
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They're to keep bees / insects from getting to the blooms and pollinating them with pollen from another type of pepper.

Won't hurt anything with the current crop, but, the resulting seeds will contain both genetics and will not grow out true to the plant it was harvested from.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 6:44PM
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So the concept it to only allow the wind to pollinate?



    Bookmark   December 30, 2009 at 7:30PM
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The chart that ottawapepper provided is interesting, but since I am a small scale home gardener, I haven't worried about it. I save seed every year and my peppers are ALWAYS true to the original. I guess you would call me a risk taker. I am doing an experiment now of saving Biker Billy seed (which is a hybrid). I want to see how true to the original the F2 BB's are.
John A

    Bookmark   December 31, 2009 at 10:36AM
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tsheets, yes the current crop will produce true peppers but not true seeds if crossing occured. From my understanding, crossed seeds planted the following year (F1) will produce fruit true to the parent. ItÂs seeds collected from the child plant (F2) that exhibit the crossed traits. I stand to be corrected though.

Ravi, the tulle cover reduces the odds of cross pollination by eliminating the chance of "contaminated" insects visiting the flower. Of course there is always a chance of airborne pollen from one species penetrating the fine mesh and crossing the covered species.

John A, like you IÂm a small scale grower and donÂt have the luxury of separating my various species by distance or within greenhouses. Aside from harvesting seed for myself I do trade and offer seed to others. As such I like to do what I can the reduce the chance of crosses. To keep things simple this year I picked up a box of empty tea bags on clearance at a local bulk store ($2 / 100 bags). IÂll be bagging the flowers buds IÂll be collecting seeds from.


    Bookmark   December 31, 2009 at 2:58PM
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I've grown hot peppers for several years and produced thousands of seedlings from plants I grew. The surprising result is that less than 1% are hybrids. I know this because one of the varieties I grow is a very deep purple that always produces lighter colored seedlings in a cross. Your milage may vary depending on insect pollinators and types of peppers growing in your garden, but for me, seed purity is good to very good even without bagging blossoms.

Now the bad part. I grew Orange Bell near various hot peppers and about 10% of the seedlings were distinctly hot. It seems the sweet peppers may be a bit more likely to cross than most of my hot peppers.


    Bookmark   January 1, 2010 at 1:42PM
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spiced_ham(z5 OH)

Ottawapepper, Plants from crossed seed (F1) will not be the same as the parent plant. The dominant genes from whichever parent will show up which is why crossed seed from sweet bell peppers [ x-hot pepper] will be hot. However, all of the F1 will be the same (AAxBB = AB). When the F1 plants self pollinate there will be segregation in the next generation (F2) as dominant and recessive genes sort out into various combinations, so you will get all kinds of things (ABxAB = AA, AB, BB).

The amount of cross pollination depends on your local bugs. Tomato flowers are designed to be less prone to cross pollination than peppers and I get 0%-43% (avg 20% mid-late season) crossed seed in any one tomato fruit so I don't want to gamble with my peppers. I have alot of little green halactid sweat bees visiting my plants, but these are ground nesting and wood nesting bees so if they don't have any place to nest their populations might be low.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2010 at 5:56PM
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Thanks for the correction Spiced Ham.

Of course it makes sense that the dominant genes would be exhibited in the F1 plants. The crazy thing is I knew that but somehow confused myself over time... aging can be a nasty thing ;-))
I should have said all crossed seeds from the same pod will produce consistent F1 results not necessarily the same as the parent (as in your hot bell pepper example).

Reflecting on my mistake, I recalled a great sight that explained cross pollination in Tomato plants. I dug through my bookmarks and found the link (included below).

My apologies to anyone I may have confused.


Here is a link that might be useful: Tomato Gene Basics

    Bookmark   January 2, 2010 at 9:57PM
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Ravi: "So the concept it to only allow the wind to pollinate?"

No, the bagged blossoms will self-pollinate instead of crossing by way of insect pollinators. It's the ultimate in incest, but it keeps them "pure". Since peppers have "perfect" flowers (that is, both male and female parts in the same flower), they can do that. It wouldn't work with, say, squash, which have separate male and female flowers.

I don't think peppers wind-pollinate (If you mean like what corn does and has pollen carried by wind to another plant). This is good actually because if they were wind-pollenated it would be a LOT harder to keep them from crossing.

I didn't know that C. chinese crossed prolifically with C. annum, but according to that chart it does. Interesting. I wonder what keeps them separate species then.

I still read lots of conflicting reports on how promiscuous peppers really are. Fusion and John A. claim they hardly ever cross, but other people tell me they cross like total plant-sluts (um, my words not theirs).

I wonder if there are other variables involved here. It would be interesting to work out what those are. One possibility I thought of is what if more attractive flowers (to bees, anyway) are growing nearby? Would the bees just pass up the peppers then?


    Bookmark   January 5, 2010 at 4:37PM
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t-bird(Chicago 5/6)

lots of great info - thanks to all.

neohippie, one thing that may affect perceptions is how hybridization effects the F1 generation. There may be some crossing the is not perceptible to the grower/taster, and thus, not counted. Whereas those who are actually spicing out the genes in a lab - will see the cross.

Additionally - many here are growing alot indoors - so I would think that the chances for cross pollination are nil in that respect. Then of course, the bees may well like garden flowers over pepper flowers, depending on what else people have growing as you mentioned. Lots of variables!

For my purposes, I really don't care overmuch - as long as they are tasty!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 1:15PM
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