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Greener Thumb
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Suppose I wanted to reverse the process? If I have an F1 pumpkin I seriously like and want to keep seeds from it for fun (to experiment with selection), would the next generation revert to either of its two parents and the third generation remain fixed? Or will that pumpkin's offspring always remain questionable, generations down the road?
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Super Green Thumb
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TZ, It is my understanding that if a variety has been grown out to F7 and is considered an open pollinated variety, the desired characteristics of the variety can deteriorate after many generations. The size may get smaller. The taste may become bland. The color may change. The disease resistance
may change. I think I have read that many people who have saved pure seed over many generations probably are not growing the same tomato as when they first started saving seed. Is that true? If so, why? What breeding tricks can be performed to maintain the genetic characteristics the variety was first bred for?

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Senior Member
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Joined: Sun Jun 20, 2010 3:54 pm
Location: Swartz Creek Michigan

Okay, I've read through this one a couple times and still not positive on this............. I bought an F1 hybrid cantaloupe plant. Will the seeds from the fruit from that plant germinate and produce fruit? If so will the fruits be the same as the ones from the plant I bought this year?

Super Green Thumb
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Location: Mid Ohio

Short answers:

Yes, you can grow seeds from a hybrid. They will be more or less different than the hybrid depending on how different the parents of the hybrid were. In school we are taught that hybrids can't reproduce (horse x donkey = sterile mule), this is generally true with different species but with vegetables the different varieties are the same species so it is like two people having a child.

Growing out a hybrid will not get you back to the parents because each gene segregates independently of the others (more or less). It is like putting into a bag 100,000 pink balls, and 100,000 green balls, (the hybrid) shaking up the bag and then trying to pullout 100,000 pink balls.

Will an open pollinated variety degrade over time? Not on its own. The chance for a random mutation is about 1 in a million genes per generation, or one per one million seeds for a given gene.

The father of modern tomato breeding, Alexander Livingston, "discovered" that once a variety is stable it is that way forever as long as you keep other varieties away from it, so he contracted seed growers that would only grow his varieties in different fields/farms. It was also the way that he was able to select out new varieties and stabilize them by selecting seeds from from the best plants rather than saving seeds from the best fruits from differnt plants.

You can still buy most of these old varieties from Victory seeds and others.

Super Green Thumb
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So, I may not be able to stabilize a variety that is exactly like the F1 plant that I started with (as the characteristics will vary through F2, F3, etc.) but I may be able to create a variety with characteristics close to those of the F1 plant. Is this right?
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Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2097
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2008 7:27 pm
Location: Mid Ohio

Exactly, but it is still a god idea to grow out several/many F2s next to the original F1 to select for similarities.

It isn't that difficult with modern hybrids because for the most part both parents were very similar (round, red, productive, average flavor) and the hybridizing is mainly to produce the disease resistances (which most likely won't all be transfered intact to the offspring you end up with.) Grape cherry from the supemarket is like that. What you grow from saved seed is almost identical to the hybrid.

Burpee (who believes that hybrids are better in all cases) goes the other direction and makes hybrids that mimic the open pollinated varieties. Bucks County F1 is identical to red brandywine from what I hear.

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