Rural Lifestyle

Life in Rural America

Tag: heirloom seeds

Difference Between GMO, Hybrid and Heirloom Seeds

Spring plants at a local outlet store.

What are the differences between genetically modified organisms (GMO) sometimes called GM, hybrid and heirloom seeds? Some people think hybrid and GMO are the same thing – they are not the same.

GMO – Genetically modified organisms. The seed has been modified on the genetic level. For example, a scientist may splice the gene from a fish into a corn seed. In nature that could never happen.

Hybrid – Cross pollination between two related species. For example, cross breed a horse and a donkey and you get a mule. A mule is a hybrid between two closely related species. In the plant kingdom, closely related plants can cross pollinate. If the seeds from a hybrid are saved, the seeds may be sterile. If the seeds do grow, the plant may not be like its parents.

Heirloom – Pollinated by its own species. Saved seeds will bear true to form. The seeds can be saved from this plant, and replanted over and over.

Difference Between Heirloom And Hybrid Seeds

Grape Tomatoes

What is the difference between heirloom and hybrid seeds? First of all, hybrid and GMO are not the same thing, and a lot of people seem to get that confused. GMOs are Genetically modified organisms. Meaning they have been altered by man on the genetic level.

GMO products can contain genes from organisms that will never meet in the real world. For example, let’s say some scientist splices the genes of a fish into corn seed. There is no way that would ever happen in the real world.

Hybrids

Hybrids are are when plants who are closely related cross pollinate. This happens all the time in the real world.

  • Corn can cross pollinate.
  • Squash and zucchini can cross pollinate.
  • Different types of melons can cross pollinate.
  • Peppers can cross pollinate… etc.

Buying Seeds for a Survival Garden

Radishes

When its time to stockpile seeds for my survivalist garden, I usually get my heirloom seeds locally. There are 2 feed and fertilizer stores here in town that sell seeds – all kinds of seeds. Instead of getting seeds in packets, the stores get their seeds in burlap bags, and then sell the seed by the ounce. I like to go to the stores, talk to the people there, see find out what are the best types of plants to grow in my area, and go from there.

The local stores usually know what will be in short supply before spring gets here. They will put their orders in several months ahead of time, and the distributor will tell them what may not be in stock. This information is then distributed to the local gardener faster then you can get it through the nation news.

Most of the time, the people working in the feed store are pretty knowledgeable about the different types of seeds they have in stock, whats heirloom / open pollinated and whats hybrid. All you have to do is ask. One of the local stores usually has 5 or 6 types of corn in stock – field corn, sweet corn, G90,,,,,. So might pick up 1/4 – 1/2 pound of corn one year, then the next year pick up a different type of corn.

Also, while your at the store, be sure to ask about the local pest, and what people do about them.

Kevin Felts © 2008 - 2018