Growing your own food is an uncertain endeavor. A late frost or a wet summer can ruin crops, pests may consume your plants, or weeds overtake your plants. But whether you have a small backyard garden or a sizeable farm, perhaps the most important factor in determining your success – and a factor you have complete control over – is whether you’re choosing the right seeds. But what to choose?
Generally speaking, hybrid seeds produce the best, most consistent crop; specifically, F1 hybrids are bred for the best traits of the plants they’re crossed from, though the seeds can’t be saved, since the resulting plants will not maintain these traits. As a grower, though, focusing on these seeds allows you to seek out plants that will thrive in your unique environment. Particularly in light of climate change, seeds bred to survive harsh weather could be key to a vibrant, abundant garden.
Selecting For Herbicide Tolerance
Ecological change means that many farmers and gardeners are coping with formerly unknown pests that have recently entered their region, and those pests may carry additional diseases that threaten your plants. That’s why a growing number of farmers are opting for herbicide-tolerant seeds.
Herbicide-tolerant hybrids integrate a number of elements. First, they cross two or more plants to create the best natural traits in the plant – size, yield, color, flavor. Second, herbicide-tolerant plants are modified as part of a technology group. Canola hybrids, for example, are available in hybrids resistant to Roundup, Triazine, and Clearfield. Soybean plants have also recently been bred to create what’s known as Roundup Ready Xtend, available for the first time this year. Also known as RR2 Xtend, these soybean plants can survive a broader set of treatments.
Selecting For Water Supply
Water supply is another key factor that all farmers should consider when selecting seed hybrids, particularly because a growing number of seed types have been bred to be drought resistant. To determine whether such seeds are a good choice for you, though, you’ll need to determine your water needs and access. Variable input technology can help you determine how much water you typically need, assess yield maps to determine problem areas in your fields, and calculate how much water your soil can store.
Water storage is an important element in determining whether you need drought-resistant seeds, since soil that can store a lot of water may make it through periods of minimal rain without much harm – but don’t worry if your soil has poor water storage. Hybrid seeds like Sygenta’s Artesian and DuPont’s AQUAmax are designed to tolerate dry conditions.
Selecting For Heat Tolerance
Finally, and perhaps most pressing, considering recent forest fires and the extreme heat seen in cities around the globe, gardeners and farmers need to choose hybrids that can survive high temperatures. Climate change is already impacting crop yields and, subsequently, market prices, and growers have two choices: switch crops or choose a heat tolerant hybrid. There are already a number of heat-tolerant corn hybrids on the market and, combined with proper crop rotation and active soil conservation, farms can still thrive as temperatures rise.
Hybrid crops are key to modern farming and gardening, which presents a challenge for those who want to grow heirlooms – crops of the past aren’t designed for environments of the future. As the climate continues to change, hybrids are ready to conquer barriers to growth. The only question is, which ones will you grow?