• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies living kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • paul wheaton
  • Burra Maluca
stewards:
  • Jocelyn Campbell
  • Miles Flansburg
  • Devaka Cooray
garden masters:
  • Dave Burton
  • Anne Miller
  • Daron Williams
  • Greg Martin
gardeners:
  • Joseph Lofthouse
  • James Freyr
  • Bryant RedHawk

"Heirloom" status of a seed  RSS feed

 
pollinator
Posts: 181
Location: Australia, Canberra
58
bee books dog fish forest garden
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
How do you assign this status to a seed?

Would a DNA sequencing required or a LAB involved to understand whether the seed is not genetically modified and the DNA doesn't match to any proprietary seeds?
 
Posts: 2005
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
97
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
"heirloom" is nothing complex. It just means seeds that are saved and passed down from year to year. In doing so the grower inevitably ends up selecting for certain traits - flavour, disease resistance, vigour, colour etc... Heirloom is not a branding exercise, like "organic". I just describes some of the seed's heritage. There is no accreditation system, and nor should there be.

It is also quite possible to make new heirloom varieties. If I cross breed a few strains and select from the offspring over a few generation I will end up with a new variety. If I keep collecting the seeds and selecting for traits I want I will end up with a new variety.
 
Posts: 538
Location: Middle Georgia
79
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Gurkan Yeniceri wrote:How do you assign this status to a seed?

Would a DNA sequencing required or a LAB involved to understand whether the seed is not genetically modified and the DNA doesn't match to any proprietary seeds?



Heirloom just means an old heritage strain. Depending on the type of fruit/vegetable and your goals, it may or may not be better than newer varieties. A lot of veggies such as tomatoes, cucumbers and Brussel Sprouts have been improved through selective breeding for better flavor/less bitterness over the last few decades so the newer varieties may taste better than heirloom varieties. Heirloom plants will produce identical offspring as will most plants except those listed as hybrids (which are a cross of two varieties and perfectly safe/natural but their offspring can vary quite a bit from the hybrid parent plant).

Even though a whole lot of seed sellers advertise "non-gmo" that is just a marketing gimick since most veggies don't even have a GMO strain, and most all GMO seeds can only be purchased through dealers with contracts and the like. They aren't sold in garden centers though I would be careful if buying corn or soy beans from places like ebay. See here: https://gmoanswers.com/ask/where-would-i-be-able-purchase-gmo-seeds
 
garden master
Posts: 2197
Location: USDA Zone 8a
464
bee dog food preservation greening the desert hunting cooking purity trees
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
DNA testing  is being used to learn about many different things.

This may not answer your question though this book may help understanding breeding of seeds:

https://permies.com/wiki/51209/Breed-Vegetable-Varieties-Carol-Deppe


And here are some threads that folks interested in seeds might enjoy:

https://permies.com/t/57394/dehybridizing-hybrids-invite-join

https://permies.com/t/31939/Landrace-Gardening

https://permies.com/t/50726/simple-complicated-selective-breeding-saving



 
Lucrecia Anderson
Posts: 538
Location: Middle Georgia
79
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
To address the original question, heirloom is a bit of a loose term. It usually means varieties that are at least 50 years old, though some say varieties that existed prior to 1951.

I doubt if there are many seed police out there monitoring the purity of the seeds advertised heirloom varieties though a quick search could tell you how long a given variety has been around.
 
Posts: 63
Location: Washington coast
12
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The term heirloom usually involves two different criteria: that the variety is true breeding and that it has existed for some arbitrary period of time, often 50 years.

I think it is more useful to use these criteria separately.  Most people care much more about whether a variety is true breeding than about how old it is.

There is no authority that tests varieties to determine their purity or status.  Most seeds that are protected by intellectual property are hybrids, so that limits attempts to claim them as heirlooms.
 
gardener
Posts: 1241
Location: Officially Zone 7b, according to personal obsevations I live in 7a, SW Tennessee
369
bee books food preservation forest garden cooking
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Another word, rather phrase, that may be helpful to know is "open pollinated". These people explain it better than I can.

http://blog.seedsavers.org/blog/open-pollinated-heirloom-and-hybrid-seeds

   Open-pollination is when pollination occurs by insect, bird, wind, humans, or other natural mechanisms.
       Because there are no restrictions on the flow of pollen between individuals, open-pollinated plants are more genetically diverse. This can cause a greater amount of variation within plant populations, which allows plants to slowly adapt to local growing conditions and climate year-to-year. As long as pollen is not shared between different varieties within the same species, then the seed produced will remain true-to-type year after year.

   An heirloom variety is a plant variety that has a history of being passed down within a family or community, similar to the generational sharing of heirloom jewelry or furniture.
       An heirloom variety must be open-pollinated, but not all open-pollinated plants are heirlooms. While some companies create heirloom labels based on dates (such as a variety that is more than 50 years old), Seed Savers Exchange identifies heirlooms by verifying and documenting the generational history of preserving and passing on the seed.

   Hybridization is a controlled method of pollination in which the pollen of two different species or varieties is crossed by human intervention.
       Hybridization can occur naturally through random crosses, but commercially available hybridized seed, often labeled as F1, is deliberately created to breed a desired trait. The first generation of a hybridized plant cross also tends to grow better and produce higher yields than the parent varieties due to a phenomenon called ‘hybrid vigor’. However, any seed produced by F1 plants is genetically unstable and cannot be saved for use in following years. Not only will the plants not be true-to-type, but they will be considerably less vigorous. Gardeners who use hybrid plant varieties must purchase new seed every year. Hybrid seeds can be stabilized, becoming open-pollinated varieties, by growing, selecting, and saving the seed over many years.



There is more info on that page.

These definitions seem to be honored by many seed companies, though to my knowledge there isn't any organization enforcing the definition.
 
Posts: 353
Location: SW PA USA zone 6a altitude 1188ft
4
trees
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
To me an heirloom is a plant that I can save seeds from and grow the same plant in the future. I don't care how old it is. I can usually count on an heirloom to be the best tasting variety in the seed catalog. That's the reason that it's such an old choice. It's not grown because it ships well, or ripens first, or is resistant to problems that most of us will never see. It's the variety that you grow because you get your experience at the dinner table, not while reading a seed catalog.

It's my suspicion that there are hybrids that could be called heirlooms but the sellers hide this. I class the Celebrity tomato as one, from my experience.

I  have made a vow to never grow another hybrid.

edit:

I forgot the most important hybrid characteristic, appearance. Who cares how it tastes. The sucker won't know how poor the taste is they get it home and by then it's paid for. If I sold tomatoes it'd be mostly beefsteaks and my credo would be: "The uglier the tomato the better it tastes". I heard lately that it's illegal to allow customers to do taste tests ( was that local, can't remember ), but I'd brag: "you don't need to taste it, you can see how good it tastes!!". I've been thinking of a thread here. "The ugly tomato thread"




 
Gurkan Yeniceri
pollinator
Posts: 181
Location: Australia, Canberra
58
bee books dog fish forest garden
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks for the pointers guys

There are also landrace seeds that are endemic to the locality and don't usually appear in other geographical areas.

So far we have:

  • Open pollinated
  • Heirloom
  • Hybrids
  • Landraces


  • Can you think of any other type?
     
    William Whitson
    Posts: 63
    Location: Washington coast
    12
    • Likes 3
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    The problem with terms like open pollinated and heirloom is that they get used a lot but don't have very clear definitions.  We would probably all be better off if we just stopped using them.

    If you break them down, you get two important dimensions: pollination method and zygosity.

    So, an heirloom is usually homyzygous and self or population pollinated.

    An F1 hybrid is usually moderately heterozygous and narrowly cross pollinated.

    A landrace is highly heterozygous (at least for a while) and open pollinated.
     
    John Duda
    Posts: 353
    Location: SW PA USA zone 6a altitude 1188ft
    4
    trees
    • Likes 2
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    I'd just as soon stick with open pollinated and heirloom. We shouldn't be required to get a doctorate before our children are allowed to plant their first pumpkin or their first daisy. I'm going to build a false wall to hide an old Burpee catalog. And my Johnny's.

     
    gardener
    Posts: 3858
    Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
    1048
    bee
    • Likes 5
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    I felt like it was wrong, that people were calling Indigo Rose, an "heirloom', in 2012, which was the first year that it was released to the public. That's the zealot in me, wanting the words we use to have definitive meanings. No matter how I wrestle with the definition of heirloom, I can't find any way to twist the English language to allow me to call a brand new variety an heirloom. At the farmer's market, I am using the term "heritage", because it implies an ongoing legacy or tradition of doing things how they were always done before recent decades when The Conglomerate got involved in seed production.

    I also don't like how the term "open pollinated" is used in the seed industry. Because the plain and simple meaning of the phrase implies that we might not know who's the daddy. But in reality, every trick known to humanity is used to prevent the plants from actually being openly pollinated. In my writings, I use the term "promiscuously pollinated", because I really don't know who's the daddy, and I really don't care. I encourage as much crossing as a species can accommodate.

    I love, love, love to grow hybrids and replant seeds from them, because the genetics in subsequent generations are rapidly recombining in new and exciting ways.


     
    Posts: 4
    • Likes 1
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    I have a book on Hybrid,  we humans have been doing this for 500 years.

    oduct
    Synopsis
    Disheartened by the shrink-wrapped, Styrofoam-packed state of contemporary supermarket fruits and vegetables, many shoppers hark back to a more innocent time, to visions of succulent red tomatoes plucked straight from the vine, gleaming orange carrots pulled from loamy brown soil, swirling heads of green lettuce basking in the sun. With "Hybrid," Noel Kingsbury reveals that even those imaginary perfect foods are themselves far from anything that could properly be called natural; rather, they represent the end of a millennia-long history of selective breeding and hybridization. Starting his story at the birth of agriculture, Kingsbury traces the history of human attempts to make plants more reliable, productive, and nutritious-a story that owes as much to accident and error as to innovation and experiment. Drawing on historical and scientific accounts, as well as a rich trove of anecdotes, Kingsbury shows how scientists, amateur breeders, and countless anonymous farmers and gardeners slowly caused the evolutionary pressures of nature to be supplanted by those of human needs-and thus led us from sparse wild grasses to succulent corn cobs, and from mealy, white wild carrots to the juicy vegetables we enjoy today. At the same time, Kingsbury reminds us that contemporary controversies over the Green Revolution and genetically modified crops are not new; plant breeding has always had a political dimension. A powerful reminder of the complicated and ever-evolving relationship between humans and the natural world, "Hybrid" will give readers a thoughtful new perspective on-and a renewed appreciation of-the cereal crops, vegetables, fruits, and flowers that are central to our way of life.
    Product Identifiers
    ISBN-100226437132
    ISBN-139780226437132
    eBay Product ID (ePID)109093160
     
    If tomatoes are a fruit, then ketchup must be a jam. Taste this tiny ad:
    Wildlife Web Kickstarter: Participate in the Web of Life
    https://permies.com/t/100598/Wildlife-Web-Kickstarter-Participate-Web
    • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
    • New Topic
    Boost this thread!