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Silly question about hybrid seeds

Posted by HotHabaneroLady 7a Central MD (My Page) on
Sat, Mar 29, 14 at 13:58

Today I attended a wonderful program put on by master gardeners affiliated with the University of Maryland Extension. One of the things we covered is the fact that if you save seeds from a hybrid, the plant that grows from those seeds will typically be quite different from the hybrid plant that was the parent. So far so good. I suspect all of us know this.

But it raises a question . . . If you can't save the seeds from a hybrid, then where do the seeds come from to start hybrid plants from seed? Does anyone know?

Ironically, they then passed around free tomato seeds for everyone to plant. And the variety they gave us was the Sungold tomato, an F1 hybrid.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Silly question about hybrid seeds

  • Posted by digdirt 6b-7a North AR (My Page) on
    Sat, Mar 29, 14 at 16:12

Under controlled conditions, the hybridizer has to cross the two or more parent varieties each year and then save the seeds from the fruit produced.

Care is taken to prevent accidental pollination by itself or other varieties. So where plants have both male and female parts form on the same flowers, the stamens have to be clipped on one of the parent varieties to prevent self pollination.

There are several online tutorials about how the process is done and the link below goes into VERY deep detail - probably way more than you want to know. :)

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: Methods for hybrid seed production


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RE: Silly question about hybrid seeds

Yeah. But not all hybrids are F1. Or at least they don't mention it on the package.

Another Thing: According to the Probability and Statistics: It is probable/possible to grow the same kind of plants from the seeds of a hybrid.


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RE: Silly question about hybrid seeds

Hi Dave,

I get it that plants are crossed to produce hybrids, but if you cross the same parental plant over and over, won't that produce a lot of variation among the offspring? For example, my sister and I have the same parents, but she is short and I'm tall. So if you mass produce seeds by crossing the parents, then crossing the parents again next year, etc., wouldn't you end up with similar variation among the offspring? So you would have know way of knowing whether the seeds would produce offspring would inherit the desired traits or not?

Angie


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RE: Silly question about hybrid seeds

Interesting point, Angie.

Even the so called PARENTS will not be the SAME parents and there can be deviation.

So it seems to me that producing F! seeds year after year is neither logical nor economical on a commercial scale.

I suspect that a lot of those old name hybrds will grow true from seeds taken from your tomato plant. But because of the "Hybrid" scare not many people will do that and the seed company will continue selling them.


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RE: Silly question about hybrid seeds

Good point HotHabeneroLady, my parents tried a few more times but couldn't seem to match perfection. :O


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RE: Silly question about hybrid seeds

  • Posted by digdirt 6b-7a North AR (My Page) on
    Sat, Mar 29, 14 at 20:58

Somewhat apples and oranges, Angie. :) But possibly accurate in part IF you assume they use the same parent plants over and over year after year. Which they don't. Fresh parent plants every year.

And a professional hybridizer is more than capable of making the appropriate fruit selections if the need arises. If nothing else his reputation and livelyhood would be at stake.

As I said the article I linked explains all about the process in depth and the many types of selections made at various stages. But it is a complex process clearly not easily reduced to a parental metaphor..

For seysonn's benefit - if the process was neither logical nor economical then it wouldn't be a multi-million dollar industry that has existed for many decades would it? Or are you honestly saying that there is no correlation between logic and economic success?

One can "suspect" all sorts of things. That hardly makes it true. And aside from the stabilized hybrids, your claims that hybrids will breed true and that there is some sort of "hybrid scare" has ample independent research to prove it is not true. Some of it done by both past and current regulars here on the forum. Try it and prove it to yourself. Otherwise claims such as that serve no useful purpose.

Dave


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RE: Silly question about hybrid seeds

Hopefully your seeds will grow fine, like you just got them from a seed order catalog. I can't imagine them giving you bad seeds. Just my opinion.


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RE: Silly question about hybrid seeds

This still doesn't make sense to my, so I feel like missing something. Let's say that I wanted to cross my mortgage lifter and green zebra tomatoes that I am growing this year because they carry a recessive gene for badbad disease resistance. So the parents might have a geno type of Rr and Rr. (The lowercase r is the recessive gene for badbad resistance). So crossing them would produce 25% RR (pure dominant strain, no badbad resistance), 50% Rr (carrying the gene for badbad resistance, but it isn't expressed because it's a recessive gene and the dominant gene is expressed) and 25% rr (the badbad resistance I'm breeding for).

There would be no way to tell which fruits carry the desired rr genotype because the fruit is affected only by the parents' genes. The phenotype of the offspring would only be seen when the new seeds are planted, and only 25% would have the desired recessive gene. So how does Burpee or another seed supplier make sure that they all have the rr genes?

If we planted the seeds and waited to see which plants resist badbad disease, then we could cross the resistant plants with other resistant plants. In that case, ALL the offspring would have the rr genotype, and therefore the resistance to badbad disease. But then, wouldn't that mean we could save seeds from hybrids without them reverting to be like one of the parents? So it must not work this way because we can't save the seeds.

I know that what I've done above is basically Gregor Mendel level genetics and genetics are actually more complicated than that. So maybe I am just losing the answer because I'm oversimplifying the question. :)

I'm not worried about whether my seeds are correct. In fact I'm growing all heirlooms this year except for the Sungolds from the extension. But I am just really curious about how this works and whether I could do it at home. :)

Angie


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RE: Silly question about hybrid seeds

But I am just really curious about how this works and whether I could do it at home. :)
***********************************

You will hear all kinds of arguments that you cannot do it. And you should not attempt it . Just let the big seed companies do it for you.And NEVER try planting seeds from A hybrid otherwise you will be sorry that you did. (LOL just a little humor).

There are a lot of legitimate University hybridizers who do it, and stabilize their hybrids and release to the public domain. Because that is the scientific approach that even Charlie Radiator figured it out how to do it.


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RE: Silly question about hybrid seeds

Many questions above I wish to address.

First, as far as commercial production of hybrids, mostly done by various seed companies all over the world in many countries including the US, there are two breeding lines, this may have been covered in the link Dave gave, I didn't check, lets call them A and B.

Starting with previously chosen OP's in each line various genes are bred in such as uniform ripening, high solids, various disease tolerances and so much more. At each step seeds are saved, planted out, seeds again saved and on and on it goes until the final OP in lines A and B are complete. The last OP in each line is kept and used for producing more hybrids.

Then the last OP in line A is crossed with the final one in line B, thus forming the desired hybrid. There can be up to 4 parental inputs to each line, so a total of 8 overall.

Previously, the female OP blossom had to be manually be ridden of the male pollen by removing the pollen bearing anthers so no self pollenization could occur. But now most breeders use what are called male steriles, so that doesn't have to be done manually.

Commercial hybrids cannot be sold as having this or that disease tolerance until and unless they are submitted to a lab for testing challenge. And that costs a lot of money.

AS for home crosses, I know many who do it, but they have a goal in mind and it isn't usually something to do with disease tolerances.

Many also work with accidental crosses that have occured as well. I've had experience doing both. I dehybridized Ramapo F1, it only took out the F3 for that and I also dehybridized an accidental cross that occured in someones garden between Yellow Brandywine and an unknown male parent. It's known today as OTV ( Off the Vine) Brandywine which took out to the F6 before it was stable.. I also attempted to dehybridize Big Boy F1 to see if I could get out the one parent, Teddy Jones, apink heirloom from the midwest, and did so under the direction of Dr. Oved Shifriss who bred Big Boy F1, but abandoned that project.

Above it was said:

Yeah. But not all hybrids are F1. Or at least they don't mention it on the package.
Another Thing: According to the Probability and Statistics: It is probable/possible to grow the same kind of plants from the seeds of a hybrid.

&&&&&&

When Carol Deppe wrote the first edition of her book she said that some hybrids were actually OP's and way back then that might have been true, but not now.

Sometimes folks get confused when they see something like Rutgers VF, thinking it's a hybrid, but it's not. If you go to Tania's page for Rutgers or look in the SSE YEarbooks you can see various Rutgers listed that have different combos of disease tolerances, but they are not hybrids, it's just that those genes have been bred in.

When dehybridizing a known F1 hybrid if it's one of the early ones there are usually just two parents and thus easier to dehybridize. Such was the case with Ramapo F1 where I knew both parents and both were red, and quite similar, so it didn't take many selections to get something out that walked and talked like the hybrid.

One ca n't do that with modern hybrids b'c there are so many parental gene inputs as I noted above., also several have tried with Big Beef F1 and some others.

The best explanation I know having to do with dehybridizing a known hybrid as well as an accidental one is at the link below from Keith Mueller, who occasionally posts here I think as either Olerist or Mulio.

The visual way he does it helps folks better understand what's happening as a dehybridization occurs, with selections made at each F generation.

I do hope that my attempy to clarify some issues helps,

Carolyn

Here is a link that might be useful: Genetic Segregation


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RE: Silly question about hybrid seeds

Thank you Carolyn, that helps, especially the graphic on the link and some of the other info that site links to. It's hard to believe that this process would be commercially viable because it seems so labor intensive!


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RE: Silly question about hybrid seeds

Then the last OP in line A is crossed with the final one in line B, thus forming the desired hybrid. There can be up to 4 parental inputs to each line, so a total of 8 overall. (carolyn)
%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

It's hard to believe that this process would be commercially viable because it seems so labor intensive!(angie)
&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

That is what I said previously too.
Seed production has to become a simple routine to make it commercially profitable to sell a pack of seeds for a buck.

The way Carolyn said is that they have 2 secret A and B parents, which each has been hybridized, genetized for years until each is stabilized ... Then they use those MASTER parents and cross pollinated them every year, one flower at a time .. and produce seeds ...


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RE: Silly question about hybrid seeds

To me, Carolyn is one of the most knowledgeable posters on this site when it comes to tomatoes, so I always suspect she knows her stuff when I see her posts!

So dare I ask how they make it commercially viable? It seems like the sort of thing machines would have trouble with because the flowers would be too fragile. And doing it by hand seems prohibitively expensive because you'd have to pay people to do it, and the production would be relatively low. You'd have a very hard time producing the huge seed volumes that are needed.


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RE: Silly question about hybrid seeds

Some of you have misinterpreted what I posted.

There are not two parents. There are two stable OP's in each line that have been previously developed. If you go to the PCGRIN USDA site about 80% of the listings are for previously abandoned such accesions.

It's not all that labor intesive if sterile males are used and when wanting more commercial production of seed they usually start two steps up and don't go back to the first OP in the lines.

As Dave mentioned earlier. sales of hybrid seed is a multi million dollar business. You can't think just of home gardens, you have to think of all the commercial farmers, most of whom plant hybrids, for one reason or another.

For most home gardeners F1 hybrid seeds cost WAY more than OP seeds.

To use another perspective, there are close to 20,000 OP varieties known, some heirlooms, some not, whereas at any one time there are less than perhaps 500 hybrid varieties.

What concerns me greatly are the home gardeners who plant hybrids with disease tolerances thinking they will prevent disease. But the truth is that the majority of tomato diseases are the foliar ones, two fungal and two bacterial. Most folks haven't a notion of what diseases they have, and here I'm speaking of the soil borne ones which is what the hybrids are supposed to help with.

There's no such thing as total resistance and that was shown many years ago when some commercial farmers sued the companies they got hybrid seed from that their tomatoes still went down with diseases they shouldn't have.

It was at that point that the Tomato Industry themselves started saying tolerance is a better word than resistance.

Carolyn, who now has to go to the back room, her seed packing room, to get packed up and sent out to her four wonderful seed producers the seeds for this season. She isnot commercial and doesn't sell seeds but makes a seed offer once a year, used to do it here, but not since 2006. She then sends seeds for some of the better ones to various seed companies where she knows the owners well and has for many years, seeds for trial and that way makes them available to the public,


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RE: Silly question about hybrid seeds

  • Posted by digdirt 6b-7a North AR (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 30, 14 at 13:32

An overly simplistic answer would be - just think about how many seeds are produced by even one plant.

When a seed producers whole operation is directed at doing nothing but producing seeds you can multiply the seeds from that one plant by a factor of 100.

Part of the problem in understanding the differing scale, understanding how operations of this size work. Most home gardeners grow only a few 10-20 tomato plants at one time. So they tend to think in terms of their garden, in small numbers, small scale. That is normal. But it is worlds apart from the reality of commercial tomato production or commercial seed production. The world of commercial production is even worlds apart for those of us that grow hundreds of plants annually.

Plus most home gardeners have other demands on their time. It is difficult to relate to the lifestyle of someone much less a whole corporation, whose lifestyle is exclusively devoted to the tomato.

The best analogy I can come up with, and don't know if it helps or not, is a 10x12' backyard hobby greenhouse compared to the average 40x100' nursery greenhouses compared to multiple football field sized corporate greenhouses where you can't see one end from the other. They are totally different worlds and you have to see it to understand it.

Dave


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RE: Silly question about hybrid seeds

One thing I have always wondered is how do they keep the price of a pack of seeds from a tomato that has very, very few seeds, the same price as one that produces many, many seeds. I grow some varieties where I bet there are less than 10 seeds per tomato.
Any thoughts?


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RE: Silly question about hybrid seeds

That is a good point, ncrealestateguy.

Another thing is, to produce Hybrid seeds EVERY SINGLE FLOWER has to be hand/mechanical/machine .. pollinated. And since not all the flowers on a plant open at exact time, the you have to tag every flower pollinated and keep doing it all season. BECAUSE if you stop hand pollinating and one produce a non hybrid fruit then you'll have problem. It is not like one day in july you send a guy out there to do hand pollination and you be done with it.

So I suspect that they developed an stable hybrid (now an OP) and keep collecting seeds from that and sell it as "HYBRID". They are not LEGALLY lying, they are selling the seeds of a HYBRIDIZED plant.


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RE: Silly question about hybrid seeds

Seyson, I respectfully disagree with your post above but don't have time to address it b'c I have other priorities now such as getting seeds out to my seed producers for my next seed offer elsewhere and several other priorities as well,

Carolyn


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RE: Silly question about hybrid seeds

Seyson, I respectfully disagree with your post above but don't have time to address it b'c I have other priorities now ..
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

O, Carolyn, I did not ask you you to address my views or to agree with it. And it is pefectly fine with me if you or anybody else disagrees with me. What I said and wrote was not in direct response to your posts in specifics.
So feel free to go about your priorities.


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RE: Silly question about hybrid seeds

This thread is fascinating - thank you for the information!

********
One thing I have always wondered is how do they keep the price of a pack of seeds from a tomato that has very, very few seeds, the same price as one that produces many, many seeds. I grow some varieties where I bet there are less than 10 seeds per tomato.
********

I've not been gardening that long and I generally purchase heirlooms, but when I buy 20 seed packets of various varieties, I may pay the same price for them all, but some will have 100 seeds and others 10. The cost per seed is higher.

In other cases, volume discounts may apply either at the vendor level or to the consumer, or both, which brings the per seed cost down. Perhaps the rarer seeds were sold to the vendor as a loss leader that year and that savings was passed on to me.

I guess the same production principles would apply here as they do for any type of business.


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RE: Silly question about hybrid seeds

O, Carolyn, I did not ask you you to address my views or to agree with it. And it is pefectly fine with me if you or anybody else disagrees with me. What I said and wrote was not in direct response to your posts in specifics.
So feel free to go about your priorities.

Your comments above are just so far off-base and reflect such a total lack of understanding about how the process really works that it is difficult to just let it stand and be read by others.

But since all the valid information is readily available to all who choose to look for it, hopefully readers will opt for reliable sources of such information rather than buying into some off-the-wall conspiracy theory.

There are several small and medium sized seed producers located in the Northwest. Why not plan a day trip to visit one of them and learn how things are really done?

Dave.


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RE: Silly question about hybrid seeds

In this thread, I am learning much about seed production and the degree to which people are passionate and willing to fight about tomatoes. I wish we could stick to the seed production and skip the fighting about tomatoes part. I swear if you insult my habaneros, I won't be upset. :)

One thing to bear in mind about seed packet prices is that there are only a handful of seed suppliers at the wholesale level. Most of the vendors who supply those of us who are hobby growers are getting their seed from someone else and then putting in their own packaging to be sold to us. Or such is my understanding anyway.

So I wonder how much of the difference in price and package content is just about companies taking profits. If I order seeds from Burpee (which I try not to do) I seem to end up paying more and getting less than if I order from Baker Creek, even if it is the exact same plant. Now admittedly this is heirloom seeds here because Baker Creek doesn't carry hybrids and if I order from Burpee, I am probably still ordering an heirloom.

But I wonder if the same principle applies and the difference between varieties and vendors in pricing or seeds per packet might be mainly about who is trying to take the most profit per sale.

Angie


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