Heirloom tomatoes are described as those varieties that are open-pollinated and at least 50 years old. What distinguishes heirloom varieties is the fact that most of them offer a rich history passed down through generations in families that grow them and share the seeds with other gardeners and tomato enthusiasts.
Hybrid tomato varieties are those varieties, that have been crossbred to take advantage of the best traits of each parent. Hybrids are bred to include for example greater disease resistance or higher yield. Hybrid can be an effect of the intentional cross made by the breeder or can occur naturally – when bees or any other pollinators transport the pollen from one variety to the other. It is very important to emphasize that hybrids are not the same as GMOs.
When pollination occurs by insects, wind, birds, humans, or any other natural mechanisms, the variety can be called open-pollinated. All heirloom tomatoes are open-pollinated. Also, new creations, that are selected and stabilized by breeders, and produce true-to-type fruit from seeds that are saved from them, are open-pollinated.