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Topics - Joseph Lofthouse

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Tomatoes / Xenia Effect in Tomato Seeds
« on: 2021-04-12, 04:59:51 PM »
I have read that there is a xenia effect for the size of tomato seeds based on pollen donor. Last fall, I found a possible candidate to test that.

Last spring, one of the potato-leaved Brad plants grew up to be regular leaved, indicating that it crossed the previous summer. I planted the F1 in an area that was surrounded by S habrochaites, S peruvianum, S pimpinellifolium, and [BC with habrochaites cytoplasm). They all have small seeds compared to domestic tomatoes.

When I harvested the seeds, there was a mixture of seed sizes. I sorted them into a population of the largest seeds, and a population of the smallest seeds. I planted the seeds today.

I also planted the smallest seeds from the general populations of Brad, and Jagodka -- as controls. Also planted the largest seeds from Brad, and the general population of Jagodka. The ratios of potato-leaved to regular-leaved Brad will be obvious within a month.

Jagodka was the variety that started the train of thought that lead to the Beautifully Promiscuous and Tasty Tomato Project, because it was so attractive to bumblebees. Therefore, I'm looking forward to watching for naturally occurring hybrids. 

Tomatoes / Marker Assisted Selection, Promiscuous Tomatoes
« on: 2021-04-05, 01:35:13 PM »
Someone offered to do marker-assisted selection on the promiscuous tomatoes. The DNA-sequences are known. It's the HT allele that's broken in domestic tomatoes. Some of the base pairs are out of order.

I'd sure like to accept the offer, but the growing season is upon me, and I'm still spending tons of time on the book, so it's hard to do the research.

OSSI / Thank you OSSI and forum contributors
« on: 2021-01-22, 05:35:35 PM »
While doing server maintenance and applying security patches, I had the opportunity to review the entire forum in the past couple of days. Wow!!! What a lot of good writing and photography. And wonderful diversity of thinking, climates, and breeding projects.

Thank you to everyone that is contributing to the forum, and thank you especially to the Open Source Seed Initiative for the ongoing financial and institutional support that keeps this site operational.

Tinkering / Biographies
« on: 2021-01-14, 03:49:58 PM »
I added a field to the user profile where you can add a short biography. It is limited to 144 characters. Text that you add to it will appear under your avatar photo. It corresponds to the text on the left side of this post which starts with "Open Source Plant Breeding Forum, founder. World Tomato Society...."

Tomatoes / Brief summary of tomato species
« on: 2020-12-25, 04:16:24 PM »
I have attached a brief pdf summary about each of the currently recognized wild tomato species.

Will also try posting it into this thread...
A Brief Summary of Wild Tomato Species
Joseph Lofthouse

Lycopersicon group (Red/orange/yellow fruited tomatoes)

Solanum lycopersicon (Domestic tomato)
   Lycopersicon cerasiforme
   Lycopersicon esculentum

Large fruits typically red. Small flowers. Straight anther cone. Intergrades with S pimpinellifolium. Fully cross-compatible with other members of the Lycopersicon group. Self compatible, sometimes with flowers that facilitate crossing. More dependent on moisture than other species.

Solanum cheesmaniae (Galapagos tomato)
   Lycopersicon peruvianum var. parviflorum

Small fruits yellow or orange. Regular-leaved. Small leaves, and plants.  Small flowers. Straight anther cone. Stigma not exposed. Intergrades with S galapagense. Fully cross-compatible with other members of the Lycopersicon group. Strongly selfing. Endemic to all-elevations in the Galapagos Islands.

Solanum galapagense
   Lycopersicon cheesmaniae f. minor

Very small fruits yellow or orange. Carrot-leaved. Bushy growth habit. Small flowers. Straight anther cone. Stigma not exposed. Intergrades with S cheesmaniae. Fully cross-compatible with other members of the Lycopersicon group. Strongly selfing.  Endemic to low-elevation in the Galapagos Islands.

Solanum pimpinellifolium (Current tomato)
   Lycopersicon esculentum ssp. intermedium
   Lycopersicon esculentum ssp. pimpinellifolium

Small fruits red. Regular-leaved. Small leaves, and plants. Small flowers. Deeply lobed petals is diagnostic for this species. Straight anther cone. Stigma exposed. Intergrades with S lycopersicum.  Fully cross-compatible with other members of the Lycopersicon group. Self compatible with flowers that facilitate crossing. Riparian adapted at low elevations in southern Ecuador and Peru.

Arcanum group (Mysterious green-fruited tomatoes)

This group intergrades with each other. Hard to tell them apart based on physical characteristics.

Solanum arcanum
   Lycopersicon peruvianum var. humifusum

Fruits green with dark green stripes. Short fuzzy hairs on fruits. Simplified highly-serrated regular-leaf. Extremely variable species. Large flowers. Flower cluster unbranched. Straight anther cone. Exerted stigma. Intergrades with S chmielewskii and S neorickii. Usually self incompatible. Dry habitat adapted. Some populations  adapted to lomas habitat. Low elevation near coast and in river valleys.

Solanum chmielewskii
   Lycopersicon chmielewskii

Fruits green with dark green stripes. Simplified serrated regular leaf. Intergrades with S arcanum and S neorickii. Large flowers. Flower cluster unbranched. Straight anther cone. Exerted stigma. Self compatible with flowers that facilitate crossing. Dry habitat adapted. High elevations in south-central Peru to northern Bolivia.

Solanum neorickii   
   Lycopersicon parviflorum

Fruits green with dark green stripes. Simplified regular-leaf. Small dull flowers. Stigma not exposed. Flower cluster unbranched. Intergrades with S arcanum and S chmielewskii. Self compatible. Strongly selfing. Dry habitat adapted. High elevations in southern-Ecuador to south-central Peru. Descended from Solanum chmielewskii

Eriopersicon group (Hairy green fruited tomatoes)

Solanum chilense
   Lycopersicon peruvianum ssp. Puberulum

Fruits green to whitish-green with purple stripes. Fern-leaved. Stems and leaves densely hairy. Foliage appearing grayish to white. Large flowers. Flower petals have a dark medial stripe. Anther cone straight. Stigma exerted. Branched flower clusters. Coastal areas southern Peru and northern Chile. Intergrades with S. huaylasense. Self incompatible. Super dry river bed habitat and lomas adapted. Southern Peru to northern Chile. Low to mid-elevations.

Solanum corneliomulleri
   Lycopersicon glandulosum

Fruits hairy, green with dark green or purple stripes, and sometimes purple blushing. Fractal leaf pattern. Strongly toothed leaflets. Branched flower cluster. A mixture of hair types on foliage. Large flowers. Anther cone strongly curved. Branched flower clusters. Mature fruits densely covered in long soft hairs. Intergrades with S peruvianum. Usually self incompatible. Dry habitat adapted. Mid to high elevations. Central to southern Peru.

Solanum habrochaites  (Woolly Tomato)
   Lycopersicon hirsutum

Fruits green with dark green stripes. Long hairs on fruits. Slightly serrated leaflets attached only to main leaf-stem. Leaflet size alternates: large, tiny, medium, tiny, large. Large flowers. Petals shallowly lobed. Straight anther cone. Exerted stigma. Usually self incompatible, with some self-compatible populations at the extreme edges of range. Easily used as a pollen donor to domestic tomatoes. Branched flower clusters. The largest plants among the wild tomato species. Grows in a wide variety of high-elevation forest habitats, including lomas. Central Ecuador to central Peru.

Solanum huaylasense

Fruits green with dark green stripes. Fractal leaf pattern. Wispy carrot-leaved. Leaflets serrated.  Leaves appearing green to bright green. Leaves largely free of hairs. Large flower petals uniformly colored. Anther cone straight or strongly curved. Branched flower clusters. Intergrades with S. Chilense. Usually self incompatible. Dry habitat adapted. Endemic near Callejón de Huaylas in Peru.

Solanum peruvianum  (Peruvian nightshade)
   Lycopersicon glandulosum

Fruits green to greenish-white often with purple blushing.  Large flowers. Anther cone curved or strongly curved. Branched flower clusters. Leaves and stems velvety. Intergrades with S corneliomulleri. Usually self incompatible. Adapted to wide range of habitats including lomas. Southern Peru to northern Chile. Low to mid-elevations.

Neolycopersicon group (New green-fruited tomato)

Solanum pennellii

Dark green hairy fruits. Short hairs on fruits. Round leaflets and an anther cylinder (instead of an anther cone) are the traits that distinguish S pennellii from all other species.  Large flowers with connected petals. Exerted stigma. Strongly bent style. Usually self incompatible, with some self-compatible populations at the extreme edges of range. Easily used as a pollen donor to domestic tomatoes.  Strongly lomas adapted – poor root system. Northern Peru to northern Chile. Low to mid-level elevations.


Peralta, Iris E.; Knapp, Sandra; Spooner, David M. (2005). "New Species of Wild Tomatoes (Solanum Section Lycopersicon: Solanaceae) from Northern Peru". Systematic Botany. 30 (2): 424–434. doi:10.1600/0363644054223657. ISSN 0363-6445. S2CID 86254917.

Iris E. Peralta, David M. Spooner, Sandra Knapp: Taxonomy of Wild Tomatoes and Their Relatives (.. Solanum sect Lycopersicoides, Juglandifolia sect, sect Lycopersicon, Solanaceae.). Systematic Botany Monographs, Volume 84, The American Society of Plant taxonomists, June 2008, ISBN 978-0-912861-84-5

Iris Edith Peralta & David M. Spooner (2000), KURTZIANA,  Classification of wild tomatoes: a review Torno 28 (I): 45-54. 

Seed Saving / Germinating super old seeds
« on: 2020-11-11, 08:09:55 PM »
I recently traveled to a seed bank in Colorado, and acquired seeds for the Beautifully Promiscuous and Tasty Tomato Project. A plant breeder named GW Denna had started a project like that in about 1971 to 1974, then he died young. The seeds sat in a warehouse in Colorado until they made a new home in the seed bank a few years ago. I was able to tell the custodian of the seed bank why Denna's project was important, and about the meaning of the labels on the seed packets.

The seeds are:

F1 hybrids between Solanum peruvianum.
F2 hybrids between domestic tomatoes and Solanum peruvianum.
A domestic OP tomato that was highly attractive to bumblebees.
LA128 L hirsutum glabratum from Baños Equador.  Self fertile.
LA387 L hirsutum from Santa Apolonia Peru. Mixed fertility.
"Wild Tomato Crosses" with large-ish seeds indicating domestic ancestors.
L peruvianum. SI F2 Intercrosses with large-ish seeds indicating domestic ancestors.

The seeds are 45 years old and were stored haphazardly. I have about 500 seeds to work with.

Can you recommend germination protocols for old seeds?

Some ideas that have been suggested include.

  • Watering with kelp fertilizer.
  • Soaking in dilute potassium nitrate before germination.
  • Watering with tea. (Helps replace the solutes that leach out of older seeds)
  • Watering them with 0.15% H2O2. 3 tablespoons 3% solution per pint. (Gives them a boost of oxygen)
  • Sprouting them on paper towels instead of soil. (Reduces damping off.)
  • Surface sterilizing and growing on agar with MS/Gamborg nutrients.
  • Keep them in a warm place.
  • Plant them with bio-dynamic calendar.
  • Sing and dance for them. Love on them.

I'm currently fascinated with the idea of making a tea from tomato seeds, and watering with dilute hydrogen peroxide, on some type of hydroponics mat. The peroxide is also an antibiotic.

Anyone want to recommend your favorite method for germinating old seeds?

Grains / Evolutionary Breeding: Wheat & Barley
« on: 2020-04-29, 12:04:19 PM »
Last year I worked on projects to develop wheat and barley landraces for the rocky mountains. It's part of the ongoing work that I have been doing with the Heritage Grain Trials project of Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance.

In previous years, the project focused on trialing varieties to determine which ones thrive in our area. In 2019, my part of the project focused on developing a landrace variety of wheat that is well suited to our ecosystem, and to human scale agriculture. An evolutionary breeding project.

Wheat and barley are mostly selfing, with some ability for cross pollination. Depending on variety and growing conditions, it may be as much as 10% crossing. Because pollination tends towards being a highly localized event, I inter-planted about 16 varieties of the most productive and highly favored varieties from the Heritage Grain Trials. They were planted close enough together that the flowers of different varieties could jostle together.

They thrived for me, as expected based on the trials. Most of the seeds that I harvested were from plants that grew mid-thigh or taller. I selected for grain that is easily harvested without stooping over. The wheat varieties tended towards being taller plants than the barley. Most of the wheat plants were harvested, but only about half of the barley plants.

Occidental Arts and Ecology is doing a similar project, and put together a grex containing about 2000 varieties of wheat. Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance shared seed with me.

I planted it in the spring of 2019. The diversity was startling even to me.

Some of the plants grew ankle high. Some were waist high, and everything in between. I only saved seeds from plants that were over mid-thigh in height. I want to be able to easily harvest with secateurs without stooping over.

Maturity dates varied over a 3 month period. I saved seeds from both the early maturing and the late maturing varieties. Harvest of the late maturing varieties corresponded with my emergency frost harvest, so rather than threshing them the day of harvest, they got stuck in a bin for later harvest. Mice ate the entire seed stock. Therefore I only got seed stock from the early maturing varieties.

The Occidental population had a few plants that seemed like they didn't get enough cold in the spring, because they grew all season without flowering. I wasn't interested in saving seeds from the ankle-tall plants, or the knee-high plants.

I estimate that I (successfully) saved seed from about 25% of the Occidental plants.

I returned seed from all populations to the Heritage Grain Trials.

For my own purposes, I combined the two wheat populations into a single population which is 85% RMSA seed and 15% Occidental seed -- selected for tall plants and early maturity.  I sent the combined seed to Experimental Farm Network for distribution.

2020 Growing Season

Seeds from all of these populations fell to the ground and sprouted in the fall. All of them produced large populations of overwintered plants. The barley was pretty susceptible to winter-kill. Nevertheless a large stand survived. This spring, I cultivated the patches leaving a foot-wide row of each population. Winter-hardy grains are earlier and more productive for me, and can be grown without irrigation. Might be nice to move the population (and my practices) in that direction.

Last fall, I collected seed by phenotype, and replanted by phenotype this spring. I'm expecting some variations in phenotype among the offspring which will give me an estimate of cross-pollination rates.

Long Term Prospects

The RMSA grains were highly productive at my place. Much more productive than what I experienced while growing out random wheat varieties. The productivity of the Occidental population was akin to growing random varieties. I expect quick adaptation to my growing conditions.

I am expecting that the naturally occurring hybrids will experience hybrid vigor, and will tend to be more productive. Thus by growing small grains in this manner, the population will tend to self-select for higher rates of promiscuity. I suppose that I could help it along by marking plants that have exposed anthers.

Legumes / Breeding for pea weevil resistance
« on: 2019-06-18, 08:28:31 AM »
I more or less stopped growing peas because of pea weevils. I love peas. I want to grow them. Do you have any ideas about what a breeding project would look like to select for pea-weevil resistance? Are there resistant cultivars already? Any closely related species that are resistant? How would I even arrange the trials? Seems like I'd have to plant them far apart from each other to be able to keep the seeds separate from each plant... Or do I just do mass selection, raising tons of seeds, and sort them after the weevils emerge, hoping that somehow not having a weevil inside the seed is a heritable trait?

Blogs & Media / How's your weather 2019
« on: 2019-06-11, 09:55:34 AM »

What's up with your weather? How is it affecting your crops and breeding projects?

Tinkering / Server down
« on: 2019-04-01, 09:59:00 PM »
Sorry that the server was down for an extended period of time today.


Mon, 1st Apr 2019, 3:58 pm

We are aware that there are issues affecting this server. We are working to get them resolved. Update @ Mon Apr 1 10:16:00 MDT 2019 - This server is being rebooted to restore service. Upon reboot a file system integrity check has been forced. Update @ Mon Apr 1 10:31:00 MDT 2019 - The file system integrity check is 27% complete. Update @ Mon Apr 1 10:53:00 MDT 2019 - The file system integrity check is 58% complete. Update @ Mon Apr 1 11:23:00 MDT 2019 - This server is up and available for use.

Swaps & Gatherings / Seed Swap Announcements
« on: 2019-01-11, 08:35:58 PM »

Having a local seed swap? Tell us about it here...

Grains / Beginnings of a wheat landrace
« on: 2019-01-01, 06:32:20 PM »
I have been trialing wheat varieties the past few years. I found 4 that are  productive enough to please  me.

Lofthouse. My great-great-grandfather's variety, developed on my farm.
Sin Et Pheel. An ancient variety from the middle east. Huge seed heads. Large kernels.
Huron Bluegrouse Bread Wheat.
Pacific Bluestem.

I'm growing two other varieties that I'm intending to include because of unique qualities.
Ethiopian Blue-tinged Emmer. Purple kernels. Very low productivity.
Tim Peter's perennial wheat.

And I will include Corsican wheat if I can find the seeds. Huge kernels.

My intention is to plant them on a grid, and then harvest by variety, and plant out rows of each variety, and watch for naturally occurring hybrids. Low humidity favors cross pollination in wheat, so that's encouraging since my climate is very arid. The seed head on Sin Et Pheel is uniquely distinctive. Ethiopian Blue-tinged Emmer has uniquely purple seeds.  Tim Peter's wheat has a unique seed head. So they might modify the phenotypes enough to be able to identify hybrids.

I might claim that I do plant breeding as an artist, but I still generated a randomized planting map for seven varieties. I'm planning for 6 plants of each variety, cause that matches the pots that I'm intending to grow the seedlings in. I'm planning to start 3 sets, 2 weeks apart, and planting them next to matching plants, in case flowering times are not synchronized.

Ethiopian Blue Tinged Wheat

Tim Peters Perennial Wheat

Sin Et Pheel ancient landrace wheat

Lofthouse heirloom wheat

Plant Breeding / Inadvertent Selection
« on: 2018-12-19, 11:45:21 AM »
I do a lot of selection in my plant breeding for traits that I don't even know that I am selecting for. Here's a couple of examples:

Last summer, a collaborator gave me some maxima squash that she had grown. Thinking that they might get added to my landrace. Two of the three varieties were so hard that I couldn't even cut them open! One had a woody skin. The other was just hard fleshed in general. I hadn't realized that over the years I have been selecting for soft fruits that are easy to handle in the kitchen.

Today, the germination test for Solanum habrochaites finished. It germinated at 100%, and was the quickest to germinate of any of my tomato varieties... That was startling to me, because I have a note in my seed catalog that germination on S habrochaites is erratic, and that germination can be expected in flushes every few weeks. Ha! I suppose that during the 4 generations that it has grown on my farm, that I inadvertently selected for quick germination.

What sorts of inadvertent selection have you noticed with your seed saving?

Tinkering / Accidentally Banned Australia -- Sorry about that!
« on: 2018-12-09, 11:10:28 PM »
Deepest apologies to our collaborators in Australia!

I apologize that earlier today I was dealing with a cyber-attack, and in the process of putting it out, I accidentally banned the entire continent. I feel terrible about that. Thanks for bringing it to our attention in a timely manner.

Edit to add: I Double Banned Australia. Fixed that too. Hopefully everything is working properly now.

OSSI pledged varieties / Lofthouse-Oliverson Landrace Muskmelon
« on: 2018-11-14, 08:09:40 PM »
Lofthouse-Oliverson Muskmelon

My first breeding project, and still my favorite was cantaloupes. I gathered seeds from perhaps 60 varieties of cantaloupes and planted them together in a field. Many varieties died young. Many grew poorly and didn't produce fruits. A few did marginal and produced seeds. I saved the seeds and replanted. About the third year, I was harvesting a hundred pounds per picking.

The first couple years, the only selection criteria for the cantaloupes was, "Must produce viable seeds, no matter how immature". Once the cantaloupes were reliably producing mature seeds and ripe fruits, then the selection criteria changed to must taste and smell great. For years I have been tasting every fruit before saving seeds. The fruits must be sweet as can be, and smelly as anything. I realized after a few years, that I was calling my cantaloupes by the wrong name. They should be called muskmelons! They bear little resemblance the hard, bland "cantaloupe" sold by stores. So these days i only take muskmelons to the farmer's market. They have a loyal following of people who crave the glorious taste and wonderful smell. One day, I put a couple baskets of muskmelons in the cab of the truck with me. That was a fragrant ride!

And, they actually grow in my cold mountain valley. One lady told me that she's been trying for years to grow muskmelons here in the valley, and mine was the first ripe fruit she ever harvested. If I accomplished anything with my farming, that's about as nice a compliment as I can imagine getting.

While developing this variety, I collaborated closely with another grower in my valley. We each grew muskmelons, and swapped seeds with each other for a number of years.  Each of us contributed our last name to the variety.

This is what a typical variety of cantaloupe looks like when grown in my garden, if it even survives this long.

This is what my variety looks like when planted and photographed on the same day, growing a few feet away.

100 pounds of melons per week!

Mmm. Mmm. Mmm.

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