In my last post, I wrote about Seed saving with the explanation of OP and Hybrids pending. Why should you know about OP and Hybrid ? The reason why you are saving seed is probably you like some trait of that plant like a) taste, b) color c) appearance. Or any other habit of that plant. Lets say you go to a friends house and see a sweet cherry tomato!. You bring some seed; sow and wait for sweet cherry ( ofcourse you would). Your expectation is it should yield sweet cherry. What it would yield? Here is where OP and Hybrid comes into picture.
OP – Open Pollinated:
In OP varieties, the pollination ( a.k.a Plant sex!) happens naturally by wind, insects, animals, birds, humans etc. The seeds formed as a result of such pollination, results in new generation of same plants. Usually OP varieties are grown in such a way that crop of two different varieties are not planted close to each other to avoid cross pollination. This is usually achieved via growing the crops at a distance from the other or covering them with net so that they pollinate with the same variety(self pollination). This way, varietal purity is achieved. So a sweet cherry seed will result in sweet cherry tomato. You can save the seeds of the plant and still get the same variety.
A Hybrid vegetable seed results from the cross or mating between two different varieties or “parents” of the same plant species. Two varieties of the plants are chosen for their desirable traits and carefully cross pollinated manually to produce a variety that has desirable quality from both the parents. Saving the seed of a hybrid seed will not always guarantee the same qualities that you desire. A sweet cherry may not be sweet at all. This is just an example but you get the idea.
There are much details explanation of How a hybrid is formed and how breeders come up with a new variety. I will leave that up to you!.
So, if you want to save seeds, make sure the fruit is not from a hybrid ( plant grown from hybrid seed).
If you are planning to save Heirloom seeds, ensure the plants of a variety are not grown next to plants of another variety of the same species.
You can avoid cross pollination by
1. Covering the plants with mosquito net.
2. Keeping the plants far away from each other.
3. Timing the sowing such no two varieties flower at the same time.
Happy seed saving