[tomato] Hybrids vs. Non-Hybrids

Dave Anderson (Tomato@GlobalGarden.com)
Fri, 9 Jun 2000 23:20:56 -0700

When I received my monthly mailing from Seminis Vegetable, the  
following from Jim Waltrip was included. I do not know what  
website he is referring to and while I sell both open-pollinated and 
hybrid seeds, I prefer OP's because they cost me a lot less. Here 


On a web site, called to my attention by my daughter, were several 
lies about hybrids written by someone who passed themselves off  
as an 
expert; proving that you had better not believe much of anything on 
the internet without verifying the source. 

The lady said, among other things, "Most hybrid tomatoes require  
water (which is environmentally draining) and fertilizer (which is 
environmentally damaging) than open pollinated varieties." How can 
writers get by with saying this kind of thing? Most people believe 
what they read, so this is more than a little damaging. 

She went on to say that hybridizing has led to a loss of flavor, in 
addition to diminishing an important component of genitic diversity. 
She grouped home garden tomatoes together with commercial  
Now I ask you to check out pages 63 to 70 of our new catalog. Do  
think varieties like Big Beef, Celebrity, Lemon Boy, First Lady II, 
Enchantment, Better Boy, SunSugar, Pink Girl and Patio have no  
Do they sound like varieties that were bred for their "thick skins 
long shelf-life"? 

I'll put our 10 best tasting hybrid tomatoew up against the 10 best 
tasting OP's anyone can name in a blind taste test. We'll get one 
most trusted universities to conduct the test, and lets see once 
for all if hybrids have no flavor. Come on, is anyone or any 
organization willing to take on this challenge? Seminis will put up 
half the funding if someone else puts up the other half. Don't be 
afraid of losing. I'm sure not. 

The misguided statement that hybrids require more water and  
fertilizer doesn't even deserve a reply. But I want to say this: If 
both OP's and hybrids are given no water (except rain) and no 
fertilizer, and both are grown under the same conditions in the 
location, hybrids will generally give a greater yield than OP's. Not 
by a little, but by a lot. 

As for hybrids diminishing genetic diversity, that is another false 
statement that is repeated over and over by people who are simply 
trying to hide the facts. To get flavor and disease resistance in 
hybrids, we are using the resources of our huge bank of germ 
including wild species. We are adding to genitic diversity by 
releasing hybrids with characteristics not found in the narrow band  
germ plasm available in locally grown and saved heirlooms. I could  
on and on about this but let me conclude it by saying that seed  
from hybrids will produce plants that segregate and do not come  
true to type, but that adds to genetic diversity rather than 
diminishing it. 

Seminis has bred and sold hundreds of varieties of tomatoes for  
processing and fresh-market shipping in more than 100 countries,  
surely without hybridization people would simply not be eating as 
well. But, the varieties bred for processing and fresh market  
are not necessarily the ones we recommend for home gardening.  
Boy, Lemon Boy, Celebrity, Big Beef, First Lady II, Big Boy, 
Supersteak, Beefmaster, Pink Girl, Patio, Miracle Sweet and  
others bred for home gardening are the ones you need to be  
(and selling) for home gardening. 

When you see lies printed about hybrids, don't be afraid to speak  
and ask for scientific evidence, if you believe like I do, that we can 
ill-afford to throw away the plant-breeding progress we've made over 
the past 50 to 60 years. 

I've said it before and I'll say it again, there is room for both OP's 
and hybrids in the home gardening arena. I favor hybrids, and some 
people favor OP's. That's fine except for deliberate lying about 
hybrids. I don't understand why people have to stoop to such a  
but I'm getting tired of it. I hope you are too." 

A couple of things from me: 

I received the 2001 Seminis Wholesale Price List today. It lists 52 
hybrid tomato varieties and 38 standard varieties.  

Jim Waltrip is very well respected in the seed business. If you  
would like to some excellent information on tomatoes check out: 
http://www.ngb.org/5/a20.asp . Jim was a contributor.