Island Grains

What’s significant about grain being “open pollinated”?

"Open pollinated" means that the grain is not a hybrid and can reproduce on its own: if you save your grain seed from an open pollinated wheat variety and plant it the next season, it will produce more wheat of that same variety. (Hybrids are less dependable.) This means that you can save your own grain seed each season, without having to buy more.

Open pollinated varieties also tend to be more adaptable to different bio-regions and growing conditions, so if you plant a certain variety (for example, Red Fife wheat) every season and save some of the seed to replant again the next year, that variety will slowly adapt to your soil, humidity levels, the amount you water it, et cetera. In ten years, your variety could look, taste and grow differently than the grower next door who started with the same seed as you.

Finally, open-pollinated seeds usually involve some risk of cross pollination. Corn, for example, will cross pollinate with other corn varieties from hundreds of feet away. This makes the seed unreliable and opens your seed supply to possible contamination from GMO varieties. Luckily, grains tend not to cross pollinate, and different varieties are often grown closely together with little-to-no danger of contaminating the seed.

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