Heirloom seeds are seeds that have been passed down the generations for a minimum of 50 years. They are mostly open-pollinated varieties and usually have a history attached to them. Many heirloom seeds are resistant to many diseases in their place of origin.

Open-pollinated are commonly created by random mating within a populations carrying the same genes and tend to express uniform traits or phenotypes. These describe more recent varieties than heirloom seeds.

Hybrid varieties are created by crossing two plants or verity lines within a species, producing uniform offspring that have two different sets of genes.

The F1 generation will be uniform taking the traits from the dominant allele (an alternative version of a gene) of his parents, thus allowing hybrids to deal with many different types of environmental conditions, which let them to grow faster and stand shipping etc. Most hybrids will produce seeds because they are a cross between two varieties of the same species (crosses between different species are sterile, like seedless watermelons). The F2 generation undergoes segregation, i.e. offspring with different phenotypes due to reshuffling of the alleles.



These seeds cannot be saved for their parental traits. This segregation is the reason why farmers have to buy new hybrid seeds each year from the company, and are therefore dependent on the seed company which can suddenly stop producing a variety that no one else is able to reproduce.

Unfortunately, breeding and selection of open-pollinated varieties has almost been abandoned entirely and some heirloom varieties have gone instinct. The widespread use of chemicals in modern mono-agriculture has resulted in eroding resistance in plant crops worldwide.

Seed saving is fundamental to preserve and improve agricultural biodiversity and resistance to diseases.

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