Not sure what it means? Here is an explanation on seed types

Not sure what it means? Here is an explanation on seed types

We know that there is horticultural and agricultural lingo that could easily get lost in translation. We're here to help!

Each type of seed has their own pros and cons depending what you would like to use them for.

Open Pollinated, Heirloom, Hybrid F1 & F2, GMO, Certified Organic and Treated & Untreated Varieties.

These are some of the terms relating to seeds that we have been asked about. We would love to share our knowledge to help our customers with a fun gardening experience and a successful gardening journey.

Please note that you cannot tell the difference between these types of seeds by sight.

Picture of different seeds in dishes


Open Pollinated Varieties (OPV)

Open pollinated seed is a term used to describe seeds that are grown through natural pollinators and fertilisers such as birds, bees, rain and the wind. The seed of these varieties will grow out true to type year on year with minor natural genetic variations - these variations help the plant to adapt to the environment.

Plants grown from OPV seeds tend to have a lower natural tolerance to some diseases and require a more attentive gardener to spray a fungicide or pesticide regularly to keep the plant producing healthy and edible fruits.

Heirloom Varieties

Heirloom is a term used to best describe an OPV that has stayed true to type over generations and over a long period of time. Like a family heirloom that many pass down generations within families, these varieties are also passed down through generations of seed and plants. All Heirloom varieties are Open Pollinated, however, not all Open Pollinated Varieties are Heirloom.

Heirloom seed raised plants would also require a regular application of a pesticide and fungicide to keep the plant healthy and providing delicious produce. These plants also have variations in the yields of produce.

Hybrid Varieties (F1/F2)

There are many benefits to a hybrid variety. Hybrid seeds are grown by intentionally cross pollinating 2 or more varieties (but same species) with the purpose of obtaining the best trait of each variety. This typically leads to varieties that have resistance to disease, more tolerance to extreme weather conditions, stronger colours, or better tasting fruits.

The term "F1" refers to the generation of Hybrid, F1 means First Generation Hybrid - whereas F2 is a second Generation Hybrid. The seeds that are harvested from these hybrids will still germinate and grow into flowering or fruit bearing plants, however the fruits will not be true to the type of the F1 Hybrid, or the plant habit may vary. They will typically show traits of their individual parent plants and not have the benefits or advantages of the hybrid plant that the seeds were harvested from.

Hybrid varieties typically provide better yielding and are more vigorous plants that provide uniform growth and fruits. These plants also have a slightly higher natural disease tolerance and therefore requires a less regular application of fungicide or pesticide to keep the plant healthy and disease free.

Picture of different seeds in hands

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)

Organisms (seed or otherwise) that have been genetically modified within a laboratory and have undergone specific genetic mutations are items that are considered Genetically Modified. This is not to be confused with Hybrid varieties that are not modified within a Laboratory. GMO seeds can include crossing different species of plants. Gro-Pak does not stock genetically modified seeds.

Certified Organic Seeds

There is a lot of strict rules pertaining to certifying seed as Organic. This process starts at the beginning of the lifecycle of seed production, to harvesting, delivery and even storage.
To produce seed Organically, you must have a certified organic farms whereby no chemicals are used for the control of things such as diseases, pests and fungus. This includes the management and control of weeds in the field, among other factors. These restrictions and the physical management required in successfully growing this seed is what makes it expensive. 
This includes the types of fertiliser used in the soil that may affect the viability of the seed and the amount of seed the plants produce.
The restrictions on the use of controls for these factors can often lead to crop failure, this is becoming a more common phenomenon with climate change and erratic weather conditions. These practices all contribute to the price of the seed that is sold as Certified Organic Seed.
Treated Seeds Vs Untreated Seeds
The difference between treated seed and untreated seed is in the title. Treated seeds simply means that after harvesting, the seed is chemically treated with the purpose of removing or killing any possible pests or diseases that may be attached to the seed. Treated seeds can often be distinguished by a bright coloured powdery or coated substance around the seed. It is important to note that due to the chemical treatment, the seed itself is not suitable for human or animal consumption, however the plants and vegetables or herbs grown from these seeds are safe to eat.
Untreated seed simply means that the seed has not gone through a chemical treatment to prevent these possible factors. 
There are some seed varieties that require treatment for import/export as per the country of origin/imports department of agriculture regulations to prevent an invasive disease or fungus that may be highly detrimental to the environment.
There are however, some seed varieties that do not require treatment as they are not as susceptible to disease.
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