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 Post subject: Unwanted cross pollination
PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2008 6:19 pm 
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Location: Zone 5B Pennsylvania
I was wondering how far apart I should keep some plants to avoid cross pollination? Is there any table that gives the minimum distance for plants that could cross pollinate? :roll:

John

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 Post subject: Dunno
PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2008 6:35 pm 
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I suspect it would be along the lines of the distance a bee flies for insect pollinated plants. However peas, beans and other legumes are almost solely self-pollenated, acheiving only a ~3% hybrid rate when bees actively visit adjacent plants of different types. Corn is wind pollinated so a modest distance apart, perpendicular to the prevailing wind or planting at different times so they flower at different times, would both work.

I suspect that melons and other cucurbits would be a problem even if the neighbors grew compatible species since they have separate male/female flowers and cross pollination between flowers is thus required for them. If you only had a few vines it wouldn't be too difficult to remove the male flowers (they're edible BTW) from all the plants but the one you want to propagate until that plant sets fruit, then save seed from that specific fruit.

I only save seed from cover-crop type stuff because I use large quantities of it. A packet of tomato or pepper seed lasts me years so I don't have much reason to save that seed since I only sow 10-30c worth of seed per year.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2008 6:54 pm 
Are you concerned because you're going to be saving seeds?

If you're not going to be saving seeds, except for corn (where you're eating the seeds produced by pollination), cross-pollination isn't a problem.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2008 7:02 pm 
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I don’t save any seed. I was told some time ago that cross pollination could affect the flavor and quality of fruits and vegetables of the current year of plllination?????
John

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2008 7:32 pm 
Nope - that's completely false. Pollination does not affect the current year's "fruit" at all. Except for corn where, as I said, you're eating what is actually the seed produced by the current year's pollination. This is why good seed catalogs will give you specific info on how/when to plant different varieties of corn to avoid ruining the taste of your crop.

Think about it. Except for corn, you're not consuming the actual product of pollination (the resulting seed for the next generation), you're just consuming what's pretty much the pulp or "seed protector". This won't be affected until the NEXT generation, which is why seed savers do have to be careful about where they place varieties & plant families if they want the seeds to be true to type.

But if you're not saving seed, distance won't affect flavor or quality in the current year at all.


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PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2008 4:29 am 
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AHhhhh my day is complete as I try to learn something new every day. I may as well go back to bed. :D
My confusion came from my assumptions and not what I was told. I had been buying cantaloupe from a local farmer which was always excellent until one year they were the worst tasting I had ever had. I commented about them to another local farmer and he said that the fellow had them planted to close to (I can’t remember what) and they cross pollinated and I assumed he was talking about the current year. :oops:
Thanks for the information, now back to thinking as to what to plant in the SFG. :wink:

John

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2008 8:24 am 
Well, I'm not a plant geneticist, nor do I play one on tv :lol: .

That's just what I've read in veggie gardening books & mags, plus I've grown plenty of different melon varieties right next to each other, as well as close to cukes, gourds, squash, yadayadayada. Have never had any taste problems.

With melons, there are a number of things that can affect taste. The variety for one, but more likely a combination of culture & weather. I know for a fact that if we get a lot of continuous rainy weather while melons are ripening, nothing in the world will sweeten them up.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2008 1:22 pm 
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I think what happened and what the fellow was trying to tell me is that the guy that grew them saved his seeds from the year before and they had been crossed.

John

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2008 1:42 pm 
Yes - that can definitely do it.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2008 12:17 pm 
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Gee, I hate to contradict you Breezy, but from experience I have seen the results of cross pollination in some plants. For example, a cross between ornamental gourds and edible winter squash resulted in a totally unpalatable and toxic fruit. Unfortunately, we didn't discover that until a house full of guests sat down to dinner!

It wasn't very funny, though, when one of those guests decided to eat it anyways and spent several hours bent over a toilet for his folly.

Not sure how often this would happen or with what varieties, just wanted to share my personal experience with this subject.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2008 12:54 pm 
Love2Garden - you're not "getting it". I never said that cross pollination doesn't happen. The point is that cross pollination does NOT affect the fruit that forms after the flower is pollinated. It's impossible. The genes for that fruit are already set.

However, if the SEEDS from that cross-pollinated fruit are saved & then planted, the resulting fruits (with those cross-pollinated genes set) from THAT planting could very well be affected. It's the following generation that will have been affected by the cross pollination, not the current one.

Now in the case of corn, the current crop IS affected by cross pollination because you are actually eating the seeds (the corn kernels) that would, if you didn't eat them but dried them & planted them, make up the next generation.

As far as your gourd/squash mishap, those had to have been grown from seed that came from cross-pollinated fruit from the season before. This can happen sometimes even with purchased seed from commercial growers - accidents do happen. I must say that I am puzzled about your guest's unhappy reaction, because even though many ornamental gourds are unpalatable, there aren't any varieties that I know of that are toxic in any way.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2008 1:06 pm 
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Croos polination will not effect anything that year. In giant pumpkin growing we don't like to pant a seed that was openly polinated because it might turn to be a different kind of squash. Then we half to do last minute scramnling to pick a new seed.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2008 9:54 pm 
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Breezy wrote:
As far as your gourd/squash mishap, those had to have been grown from seed that came from cross-pollinated fruit from the season before. This can happen sometimes even with purchased seed from commercial growers - accidents do happen. I must say that I am puzzled about your guest's unhappy reaction, because even though many ornamental gourds are unpalatable, there aren't any varieties that I know of that are toxic in any way.

That makes sense, Breezy, and digging deep into my memory, I think these plants were volunteers, which would explain the problem.

As to gourds that are toxic, puzzling it may be, but there you have it. Although this particular incident did not happen in South America, for interest's sake, there is a gourd that grows wild in South America that the locals warned us about while we were living there. They claimed that it could even be fatal. Now since these particular people were awfully poor and the gourds grew all over the place, I just took their word for it. They'd have been eating them if it were possible.

Not sure why the one we grew affected our guest so badly, we just know it did. Oh well, strange things happen and sometimes we never do know all the facts on the topic. We're just glad he didn't up and die on us. :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 9:12 am 
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Location: NH zone 4/5
John,
Rest easy, crosspollination for most plants does not change their flavor.

If there IS an exception to this rule its with sh2 super-sweet corns and dent corns. Makes the super-sweets less so.

So if your not making your own masa, and growing sweet corn, or saving cucumber seeds, it won't matter.

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