Three Reasons Why You Should Not Save Seeds from Fruit

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Three Reasons Why You Should Not Save Seeds from Fruit

It seems like a great idea.

You buy an incredibly delectable apple, peach, or bag of cherries and think you yourself, "I’d love to eat fruit like this all the time!" You look down at your plate and you see the left over pit or seeds and decide to save them and grow your own fruit tree.

I hate to be the one to tell you this, but don’t do it! You’ll almost certainly be disappointed with the results.

First and foremost, fruit trees reproduce sexually. Yep, you read that right. Your beloved apple had two parents, and is carrying genetic material from both the tree it grew on, and from a nearby apple tree. Just as human offspring often resemble their parents and siblings, but are not exactly the same, so too are trees that grow from seed. If you were to plant the seeds from fruit you enjoyed eating, the resulting plants will not produce fruit that is identical to what you ate. It may be similar, or more likely, it will bear only a little resemblance. This is because apples are often pollinated with crabapple trees, thus apples grown from seed are often small and very tart.

Second, when a plant breeder is trying to create a tree that produces tasty fruit, they don’t breed for healthy, vigorous roots because they know that they’ll be grafting their creation onto a different rootstock. For example, oranges are almost always grafted onto sour orange root stock, which gives the tree great disease resistance. Grafting also allows breeders to mix and match trees to rootstocks to create attributes they want, like dwarfism, cold/heat hardiness, etc. If you were somehow lucky enough to sprout a tree extremely similar to the parent you tasted, you still wouldn’t be able to overcome the fact that the roots that produced the fruit you tasted are not the roots your seedling will have.

Finally, let’s imagine that you hit the fruit tree jackpot and grew from seed a tree that is similar to the parent and has its own strong roots. It’s still not a good idea. Most fruit trees grown from seed take more than a decade to mature to the point where they can produce fruit. Oranges can take up to 15 years to become fruit-bearing trees. Who wants to wait that long? Even nurseries don’t wait that long. When you take a cutting from a mature tree and graft it onto rootstock, it is ready to bear fruit in a few years, not 15! Trees at the nursery are usually a year or two old. You’ll probably begin seeing fruit on it within a season or two after planting.

I know I was the bearer of bad news here, but don’t let this information stop you from starting a backyard (or balcony!) orchard. Just buy your tree from the nursery, don’t waste your time and energy on saving and growing fruit seeds.