What Are F1 Hybrid Vegetable Seeds?
Among our vegetable seeds you will see that some of them are described as F1 hybrids. Some of our customers find this confusing as they may mistakenly think this has something to do with GMO. It doesn’t – we only sell non-GMO seeds. The production of F1 hybrids follows the same traditional methods that have been used to produce different varieties of vegetable seeds and flower seeds for hundreds if not thousands of years. This method again uses absolutely no form of Genetic Modification.
F1 hybrids are a way of dealing with a serious problem that develops when breeding many plants and for that matter, animals. When a breeder produces a new variety, that variety is preserved, and vegetable seed produced, by isolating the plants so that seed is produced only from plants pollinated by plants of the same variety. In this way the special character of each variety is preserved.
However, over time, difficulties may develop when growing vegetables of certain varieties. When plants, like people, breed only with their near relatives, genetic problems may occur. The offspring gradually become weaker, have lower yields and are more prone to diseases. This problem is called ‘inbred depression’.
Pros & Cons of F1 Hybrid Vegetable Seeds
A way to solve this problem is to take two unrelated varieties of vegetable seeds and cross them with each other. If done correctly, the resulting plants – called F1 plants – will be vigorous, high-yielding and healthy.
This is called ‘hybrid vigor’. Since making these special crosses is time-consuming and costly, the resulting F1 vegetable seed is more expensive, but is worth the extra cost because the yield and vigor will be much higher.
Remember that if you grow F1 hybrids you cannot save your seed from year to year. Unlike regular heirloom varieties, the seeds from F1 hybrids may produce plants that are not like their parents at all. Some may be good plants, but others may not produce quality vegetables. In a small garden, saving your own seed is difficult to do anyway, so for most home vegetable growers this is not an issue. Simply buy fresh seed every year.
However farmers in developing countries typically save their own seed, thus reducing their costs. It is sometimes said that F1 hybrids therefore allow seed producers to make more money by selling fresh seed every year. However the increased yield should more than cover this extra cost – or the farmer will have no incentive to buy these seeds again.
In the same way, our customers find that the extra cost of F1 vegetable seeds is re-paid with higher yields and healthier plants.
So these plants are not the product of laboratories or are in any way ‘unnatural’. They are just a smart way of growing vegetables well, which uses normal breeding to make new varieties of vegetable seeds. Remember, we only sell non-GMO seeds.