Chaoticgenetics is Capsicum genetics and breeding. The goal is to curate and foster genetic diversity in peppers. The project uses traditional non-GMO methods to produce novel, true breeding, heirloom cultivars.
The genus Capsicum includes five major cultivated species and many semi wild or wild forms. Chaoticgenetics explores that diversity and its plasticity.
Early generations of a few select lines are available for sale on the ‘Get Seeds’ page.
All hybrids listed for sale were created by classical breeding techniques. Seed sales support the project – supplies and equipment to create novel Capsicum forms.
Why should I buy your seeds? Can’t I make a cross myself?
You can and should make your own crosses! Growing our hybrid seeds saves you the first two or three years of work it takes to create a novel hybrid. By paying for tested F2 or F3 seed, you skip the time it takes to make and grow the initial hybrid. The second or third generation after the cross is where things get interesting. Parental traits will begin to segregate in the progeny. By selecting the plants you like most for seed saving and subsequent cultivation, you get to make creative choices and sculpt a unique cultivar.
Are these GMOs?
No, the seeds we sell do not carry transgenes. The seeds are ‘hybrid’ in the sense that you and I are – half of our genome came from one of our parents and half came from the other. Our seeds are the same. They were created by carefully fertilizing one plant with pollen from another and growing the resulting seeds.
What are ‘classical breeding techniques’?
Classical breeding is the use of manual cross pollination to create novel combinations of genes and traits for selection. Capsicum flowers are ‘perfect’, each blossom contains both male and female reproductive organs. To make a cross, the flower must be emasculated before it matures. Emasculation prevents self pollination. The emasculated flower is then fertilized with pollen from a donor plant. The tools involved are: tweezers, a fine paintbrush for pollen dusting, steady hands and patience.
You can’t save seeds from a hybrid right? Won’t the plants all be different?
Yes, you can save seeds and yes, they will be different! Subsequent generations will have significant phenotypic diversity. This is the fun part. The seeds we offer are hybrids – they may carry two different alleles for a given trait – pod shape, color, heat and any other characteristic you can think of. Each individual plant will have a more or less random combination of parental traits. You can use this genetic diversity to select your own cultivar based on your taste, aesthetic and growing conditions.
Are you trying to make the hottest pepper ever?
No, not necessarily. We love spicy food, but crazy heat for heat’s sake seems silly. Capsicum is interesting because of it’s biodiversity. We do work with some ‘superhots’ but make-you-wish-you-had-never-been-born heat is not the modus operandi. The goal is undefined on purpose – what interesting new plants can be created?
How should I germinate the seeds?
Germination is generally easy and 90% or better. Our method is to push 1-3 seeds about an inch (2.5 cm) into any commercial potting soil in a ~3 inch (7.5 cm) diameter peat pot. Water by absorption from the bottom and wait. If overnight temperatures go below about 75 degrees F (24 C) bottom heat will help. Transplant the strongest sprout to a larger container (at least a gallon) when the 3rd set of true leaves open.
I want to grow some peppers, but don’t have a garden. Can I do it on my windowsill?
Yes, you can! All of the hybrid seeds we offer have been successful (at least in the F1) in one gallon containers near a north facing window. A larger container will likely increase yield. More light is better.
Why is the project called ‘ChaoticGenetics’?
Our breeding projects are ‘single seed descent’ and space is tight. Sample sizes are small; as a result we can’t do true negative or positive selection. The name reflects applied genetics in that context. Inheritance of polygenic traits in small populations can be so complex it appears chaotic. The name was also chosen to reflect the exploratory nature of the project – try everything and find out what works with no particular goal.