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What's the difference between "hybrid", "heirloom" and "OP" varieties?


A hybrid vegetable is the result of cross-pollination between two genetically different parent plants. Plant breeders develop hybrids to increase disease resistance, to improve yield, or to select for special fruit characteristics such as color, flavor, or shipping quality. Heirloom vegetables are cultivated forms of crops that have been perpetuated by gardeners who save seed (or propagate by some other means such as taking cuttings) from year to year. Some heirloom vegetable varieties have been around for more than a century! Gardeners have kept these varieties growing for generations because the crops performed well in a particular area or because they have outstanding flavor, unusual color, or other appealing characteristics. OP stands for open-pollinated, meaning that wind, bees, or other insects, rather than plant breeders, transferred the pollen to fertilize the flowers. While all heirloom vegetables are open-pollinated, not all OP vegetables are heirlooms, since all seed companies offer modern-day varieties of vegetables that have been pollinated by wind or other means. Reprinted from The Veggie Gardener's Answer Book Copyright 2008 by Barbara W. Ellis, with permission from Storey Publishing. Creative Commons photo credit:tofuttibreak

Thank you.
To clarify and expand on the above comment, if you save seeds from hybrid plants and grow them next year, they won't come true-to-type by and large. If you save seeds from open-pollinated plants, provided you don't allow them to cross with another variety, they will come true to type. Hybrids are like labradoodles ~ a cross between two different varieties, cultivars, types, breeds, etc., that if you breed two of them together, you're not sure what you'll get. OPs are like Dalmations ~ if you breed two of them together, you know you'll get a medium-largish white dog with black spots.
Thanks Linda. I really like your expanding on the seed forum. I am going to look for OP seed, or heirloom....I think.



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