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Author Topic: What are Hybrids?  (Read 1972 times)

Offline CliffordK

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What are Hybrids?
« on: 07/06/2012 19:38:46 »
I'd like to grow some of my own seeds. 

Last year I kept a couple of ears of corn for replanting this year, and got 0% germination, although I may have planted them too early.

Much of the corn in the USA is sold as hybrids, and if I plant a couple of varieties, there is risk of it hybridizing anyway.

In the animal kingdom, we know that horses and donkeys make a sterile hybrid, but one can breed various canines, and even different breeds of horses, cows, pigs, and etc.  I think even cows and American buffaloes can interbreed and are fertile.

So, what is the problem with plants, and in particular corn?


 

Offline SeanB

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Re: What are Hybrids?
« Reply #1 on: 09/06/2012 12:53:34 »
In a word Monsanto. You have there a hybrid, bred specially for one property, in that the seeds are totally sterile. Increased yields, longer shelf life, larger corn ears are just an incidental to the main reason for the existence of this, it requires the farmer to buy new seed every year, and is a guaranteed income to the company. The farmers in Brazil are contesting this in court in Brazil, as they do not want to pay a fee every year for the seed that they themselves have grown, fertilised and harvested, when wind blown pollen contaminates the crops they are growing.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: What are Hybrids?
« Reply #2 on: 10/06/2012 03:58:55 »
Thank you.

So, the hybrids were developed to increase yields.  So, some farmers maintain the parent crops.  Some maintain the seed crops, and others just buy and plant the seeds. 

I think you are right that it does make things complicated.  It also means, for better or for worse, than many "local" crops are replaced by North American high yield varieties.  But, while the hybrids are supposed to be more hardy than other varieties, they may in fact loose some of the local adaptations.  Hopefully the "Seed Banks" will help maintain some of the local varieties, in case they are ever needed in the future.

As far as the sterility, I don't think it is the hybrid per-se.  However, I'm seeing notes about Cytoplasmic Male Sterility  I'm not sure exactly, but it sounds like it is passed as a dominant feature in the female line.  It is much easier for seed manufacturers to use the Cytoplasmic Male Sterile seeds as they don't have to worry about detasseling the corn to enforce the production of hybrids.  And, it forces the consumer to always go back and buy more seeds.

So, all I have to do is to either find a non-sterile male seed crop, or at least have a non-sterile plants growing nearby.

It also means that I may not have to worry about my domestic corn crossing into my Indian Corn (can I use that term here?)  But, the Indian corn can cross back into the Domestic corn.
 

Offline SeanB

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Re: What are Hybrids?
« Reply #3 on: 10/06/2012 19:10:37 »
The High yield crops also are very dependant on regular accurate watering, special fertiliser and accurate and closely controlled weather and such to get the yield. The older varieties they replaced would give lower yield, but did so with local weather, local soil and no added water or fertiliser. They also were much more resistant to local pathogens and insects, while the new ones need added pesticides and herbicides to survive.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: What are Hybrids?
« Reply #4 on: 12/06/2012 09:07:31 »
One of the "issues" in agriculture is patenting seeds. 

A company that puts in a lot of R&D to make the next disease resistant seed should get some compensation....  I suppose....

What better way to enforce that people come back year after year to buy the seeds than to enforce male sterility in the seeds, and tightly control the male gametes. 

I do understand the hardiness and vigor that is supposed to come with the hybrids.  I have to wonder about the hybrid yield numbers.  If the average corn stalk has 2 ears.  Then could one not just merely select for larger ears without the first year hybrids?

Is this 20% yield increase over the parent lines, or over some hypothetical "native" seed?
 

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Re: What are Hybrids?
« Reply #4 on: 12/06/2012 09:07:31 »

 

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