Hunting for Hybrids

Tiger Hybrid Collards

Tiger Hybrid Collard

In a world of vegetable gardeners who are all jumping on the heirloom bandwagon, I stand apart. While I appreciate those who are trying to preserve older varieties of vegetables, the label “heirloom” doesn’t catch my eye. What does is “hybrid.”

A hybrid is produced when two genetically stable varieties of a plant are used as the parents for seed production. One of the plants produces the pollen that fertilizes the ovules on the other plant. The resulting seeds are hybrids.

 

Tronchuda Beira Hybrid Kale

Tronchuda Beira Hybrid Kale

Hybridization is used to combine the best traits of each parent into the offspring. In addition, hybrids are often more vigorous than either of the parent plants or heirlooms of the same species.

When I look for seeds, I look for hybrids. As a person with a BS in plant breeding who studied how to produce hybrids, this isn’t that surprising. But in my experience as a gardener, hybrids are always better growing plants than non-hybrids.

Hybrid tomatoes, peppers, carrots and onions are easy to find. However, when it comes to greens, hybrids aren’t as common. That’s why I was excited to see that Burpee Seeds offered hybrid varieties of collard, kale and swiss chard.

Red Magic Hybrid Swiss Chard

Red Magic Hybrid Swiss Chard

Tiger Hybrid collard and Red Magic Hybrid swiss chard are said to regrow quickly. This is something that would be a real plus when you want to keep harvesting a lot of greens during the season. Tronchuda Beira Hybrid kale is touted as being very heat-resistant which means I might be able to grow kale during the summer instead of waiting to grow it for a fall harvest.

The order for these three hybrids has been placed and I look forward to giving them a try this coming year. Will they be better than the non-hybrid varieties that I’ve been growing in the past? I don’t know. But I do know that I can’t wait to grow these uncommon hybrids and see how they perform.

(All pictures are from the Burpee website.)

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