Super Green Thumb
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Heirloom vs open pollinated

Long ago before the internet people joined special interest clubs by mail. A several year discourse (according to Carolyn Male) between tomato-club members about the search for, "that old time tomato taste", led the club to adopt the term "heirloom" and to support the definition that, that kind of seed being saved for at least fifty years. Mm, now that established definition is now itself fourty years old and has had several interpretations.

What is isn't, is a routinely accepted botanic term used by seed houses. So when your being sold an item as a heirloom you do want to understand what the seed house thinks it is.

Any heirloom (or open pollinated) seed isn't, is in its first generation of being collected. When you see routinely used botanic terms like F-1 it is a hybrid. Hybreed plants have distinct properties inbreed.

F1 seed are not bad, but they are built for a reason, often with tomato, it is shipping stability. Or, resistance to known disease. They are breed the old fashioned way by selection of pollen and stamen.

GMO's have other genetic material inserted into the plasm. And are patented and not available through retail sales. GMO's are not F-1 hybrid.

If I lived in the deep south and was plagued by rootknot nematode, I might be grateful for plants with F-1 resistance built in.

But, and here is where the rubber hits the road for me, those old tomato or corn taste different. I cherish that difference. I will save or barter seed for that old time taste.

New open pollinated vegetables are still being breed. Some are pretty darned good. A few I save seed of after trial. Others not so much. Heck not every 'heirloom' is that yummy to me and I don't save those seed either.

Grow some, save seed of the best of your yearly crop. (I think) You'll be glad you did.

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Re: Heirloom vs open pollinated

I agree the reason people still plant the heirlooms is because they taste good. If they didn't who'd keep them around? I read an article that said that the same breeding choices that were developed to get pretty fruit that were red, round and evenly colored (no green shoulders) inadvertently bred out taste.

So no wonder the best tasting tomatoes have green shoulders, odd shapes, and colors. Now, I would be happy with a homely tomato that had nematode, fusarium, verticillium, and virus resistance. But, alas many of the heirlooms don't.

There are some tasty hybrids sungold and sunsugar are sweet cherry tomatoes and fare pretty well in taste tests. They do have better hybrid resistance and cherries do better than beefsteaks all around anyway, but sungold has no resistance to tomato yellow leaf curl and unfortunately I do have that.

I thought all of the heirlooms are open pollinated, which means the seeds will breed true to type as long as they were grown in isolation so they could not cross with another kind of tomato. Hybrids don't breed true, but some of the offspring are still pretty good.

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Super Green Thumb
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Re: Heirloom vs open pollinated

I wouldn't mind hard and fast rules on heirlooms but gardening is all about life not law.

It was just by accident that I used to grow "heirlooms." I lived for awhile where the growing season was only about 90 days. What I decided to try and what was successful was Sub-arctic. Later, I learned that these were developed to provide fresh tomatoes during World War 2 so . . . somehow . . . they came to be rated as an heirloom. Personally, I'd much prefer to grow something else and was pleased to move to a lower elevation so that I could :wink: .

I grew Large Red Cherry for years & years. I hardly knew that there was another choice for a red cherry. Come to find out, this variety has been grown for about 100 years and is associated with one of the pioneers in saving heirloom tomatoes. Imagine that - with the most generic name a person could imagine.

The first "heirloom" that I actually knew that I was growing was Thessaloniki. Somehow, the catalog description made it sound like it would do okay in my gardening environment. It did! Well, Thessaloniki, we are told, was a commercial variety brought to the US during the 1950's. I may very well be older that this "heirloom!"

There's another like that - an open-pollinated variety from the fairly recent past: Bloody Butcher. Since my wife can't stand the name, we call it Jolly Rancher :lol: . No matter what she thinks of the name, the plants do just great and I've already had 2 that have ripened this season. A really early little tomato from the Netherlands, I have read. Apparently, this one is also post-WW2. An heirloom? Well, I guess so - if gardeners continue to enjoy having the plants in their gardens.

"Old hybrids?" I am sure that there are some that are older than 50 years. If a hybrid can't be an heirloom, nothing wrong with thinking of its parents as worthy of the designation. Then there are very new crosses of heirlooms. I got one in the garden again this year - Gary O Sena. I think this one might be a good choice for me! A cross between venerable heirlooms Brandywine and Cherokee Purple. Lots of tomato aficionado interest in varieties like Gary O Sena. Personally, I think that is good.


Super Green Thumb
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Re: Heirloom vs open pollinated

Open pollenated tomato continue to be breed to this very day.

Many F1 tomato especially if they have been released for several years, have in fact been back breed and reselected and should be more honestly sold as OP tomato.

So yes you can reselect tomato (it takes about seven generations to re-stabilize tomato from F1).

My hope of creating this thread is to allay fears and expand new growers horizon

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Super Green Thumb
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Re: Heirloom vs open pollinated

Great Post let me get back to you on this.

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Re: Heirloom vs open pollinated

Thanks :) I try to keep heirloom or F1 :) but I it is an odd colour I have a soft spot :) I'll grow it.

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