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Messages - Joseph Lofthouse

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Plant Breeding / Re: legal status of many varieties investigated
« on: 2019-01-14, 11:55:29 PM »

I'm currently growing a row of about 30 two year old apricot seedlings. So many traits to select for in a tree, and so few seedlings.  It's a decade long process to know if any of them will work well as scions. I'm really looking forward to the first flowers, and to tasting the first fruits. Second year growth was much more vigorous than I expected.

Plant Breeding / Re: legal status of many varieties investigated
« on: 2019-01-14, 04:37:51 PM »
A week or so ago, I had a customer tell me that they weren't buying any OSSI varieties from me because of the associated bag-tags. He said,  "Too much to keep track of.".

Plant Breeding / Re: Are Determinate Tomatoes Weaklings?
« on: 2019-01-14, 11:11:22 AM »
As a market grower, there is a huge premium paid for being first to market, and for fruit that is taken to market early in the season.

Plant Breeding / Re: Are Determinate Tomatoes Weaklings?
« on: 2019-01-14, 11:07:31 AM »
I've been reviewing my records.... My frost free growing season is about 13 weeks long. On average, the determinates started flowering 6 weeks before the indeterminates. The indeterminates took 3 weeks longer for fruits to ripen after flowering. That makes the indeterminates 9 weeks later than the determinates.

So the ideal indeterminate for me would start flowering very early, and would ripen fruit quickly. I grow an indeterminate like that. I call it Brad. It is tied with Jagodka (determinate) as the earliest tomato in my garden. Brad is a slow/steady producer, while Jagoka produces more fruits earlier in the season.  Too bad that I never made a Brad/Jagodka hybrid. I have been liking some of the indeterminate varieties that segregated from crosses I made between Jagodka and an indeterminate beefsteak.

Brad got incorporated into the Beautifully Promiscuous Tomato project, and Jagodka is getting incorporated this winter. Fairy Hollow is a descendant of Brad.



Fairy Hollow:

Plant Breeding / Re: Are Determinate Tomatoes Weaklings?
« on: 2019-01-14, 10:08:06 AM »
My climate is dry dry dry. That means that many of the moisture loving diseases that afflict tomatoes in other areas simply don't get established here. Around here, there is no reason to trellis as a disease reduction technique. We have about 90-100 frost free days, a very short growing season. Therefore, in this area, market growers plant determinate tomatoes. Sure, by growing on the ground, more fruits are lost to insects, rots, etc, but there is zero labor or material costs for trellising and field clean up. The field perishment of fruit can be minimized by picking at first blush, and ripening fruit indoors.

Outdoors, in my climate, determinates are much more productive than indeterminates, because determinates have already ripened their fruit by the time frost kills the immature fruits on the indeterminate plants. Determinate fruits taste better here, because a fruit that ripens during July's heat wave tastes better than a fruit that has spent the last few weeks of it's life shivering in September cold. About 4 determinate plants can be grown in the same space that one indeterminate plant requires, again leading to higher productivity on a per field basis.

I really like seeing the huge trellised tomato plants in the yards of the hobbyist growers around here. They look fantastic! What I like even more, is eating tomatoes during July, August, and September. The hobbyist gardeners get to eat green fried tomatoes in September.

I grow indeterminate cherry tomatoes, and indeterminate saladettes. They are early enough that they contribute significantly to the market garden. In recent years, I have been enjoying exploring the possibilities of  growing indeterminate tomatoes with about 3 to 4 ounce fruits. I expect that I'll be releasing a variety like that in the next few years. Something that starts flowering on the 4th leaf node, so that it will be early enough to be worth planting.

Here's a graph of productivity from my frost/cold tolerance trials. It's obvious why I declared Jagodka the winner. The varieties listed first are determinates, and last 2 are indeterminates. Of note in the graph, is that fall frosts were about 3 weeks late that year, and that in a typical year, the indeterminates wouldn't have ripened any fruit before frost. The last harvest in the graph was of green fruits...

Ah, you mean like the one pictured below, which came from your seeds. Looks like a tomato but tastes more like something that might be found under a tree in Hawaii.

Yup. Like that!!! Tomatoes are a tropical species after all.

I was especially enthralled by the "high ummami" fruits and by the "fermenty" flavors.

I have to wonder though, are cold weather tomatoes gonna taste like tomatoes?

Not in my garden. Any cold tolerant tomatoes that I develop are likely to taste like an exotic tropical fruits, guavas, plums, mangos, etc. I'm pretty much done with lycopene bitterness. One of the great joys of working with the interspecies tomatoes, is that it has taught me that tomatoes don't have to taste like the highly inbred, genetically fragile plants that we inherited from the corporation.

I think in my garden our thoughts on domestication of Peruvianum complex lend themselves best towards this. It's a champion volunteer in my, Andrews, and Joseph's gardens. In my garden it's shown interesting frost and cold tolerance. Joseph has started selecting it for flavor.

I am also selecting the peruvianum complex for fruit size. And I'm growing it next to other wild species, and to the interspecies hybrids, hoping that some natural crossing will occur. Peruvianum doesn't seem to be a good pollen donor to habrochaites, because when I grew a single habrochaites plant in the peruvianum patch, it didn't set seed. 

After I took this photo, comparing the typical small peruvianum fruits to a larger peruvianum fruit, I found a plant that had even larger fruits.... When I grow tomatoes 9 inches apart, it's hard to pay attention to individual plants, until something grabs my attention. Larger fruits certainly did. I saved seeds separately from larger fruited plants, and am intending to do early selection next year by culling plants with small fruits early in the season so that they don't shed pollen for small fruits into the patch.

A summary of what I think I have learned about cold/frost tolerance in tomatoes....

There seems to be two different traits that may be useful, and don't seem to be closely related to each other: 1- frost tolerance. 2- ability to grow in cool temperatures. The winner of my frost tolerance trials was Jagodka (Ягодка) a variety from the Vavilov Institute of plant science in Russia. It has low tolerance to frost, but a high ability to grow well during cold weather, and in my garden with intense radiant cooling at night. Most of the Russian varieties that I trialed were a bust -- My continental desert climate is radically different than the maritime climate of Saint Petersburg. The runner up in my cold/frost trials was a variety named Matina.

Some years, my domestic tomatoes have been frozen for two months before the Solanum habrochaites plants finally get frozen.

There seem to be large differences in early spring frost tolerance between varieties.

Tomatoes in my garden would benefit from developing resistance to flea beetles, because plants are severely damaged by them first thing in the spring. The earlier I plant them, the more predation there is, so increased frost tolerance would ideally be paired with increased resistance to flea beetles. 

Tomatillos are more frost tolerant than tomatoes. I often use tomatillos as a control in my seedling frost tolerance trials, because if the tomatillos also get killed, then I know it was a really hard frost.

I think that frost tolerance of seedlings may not be closely related to cold tolerance of end-of-season plants.

Some of the wild species, and some of the interspecies hybrids can have their tops killed by frost or winter weather, but they have the ability to survive and re-sprout from the basal stem.

My frost/cold tolerance project is currently on hold. I am focusing my tomato breeding efforts on creating a genetically diverse, self-incompatible tomato population. Once that is in place, I expect to restart other projects like cold/frost tolerance. The varieties that were previously winners of my cold/frost tolerance trials are being merged into the beautifully promiscuous tomato project.

I'm wondering if something as simple as refrigerating a ripe tomato fruit for a month prior to harvesting the seeds could trigger an epigenetic change towards more cold tolerance. Or how about freezing the fruits before extracting seeds?

I want to focus more effort towards selecting for tomatoes with the ability to volunteer. I think that in my garden, that may also inadvertently be selecting for some measure of frost tolerance, and ability to grow in cool temperatures. 

And finally, just about all of my selection work is done on segregating hybrid swarms. I don't have any good way of differentiating allele-genetic differences from epi-genetic differences. Mendelian genetics doesn't seem to be very applicable to my methods.

Community & Forum Building / Re: Seed Swap Announcements
« on: 2019-01-11, 08:43:23 PM »
I'm expecting to attend the NOFA-NY and Northeast Seed Alliance Swap on January 19th in Saratoga Springs, New York. I'd love to meet some of you there.

Community & Forum Building / Seed Swap Announcements
« on: 2019-01-11, 08:35:58 PM »

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

Plant Breeding / Re: Broccoli breeding advice
« on: 2019-01-09, 09:08:33 AM »

Broccoli hybrids are often made using cytoplasmic male sterility. The flowers don't have anthers, so they can't produce pollen. On my own farm, I prefer to avoid growing plants with sterility problems. Therefore, I wouldn't use F1 hybrids as parents for a broccoli breeding project.

Don't you think you will import all the strains of Phytophtora into your garden if you manage it that way?

With all the seed swapping that my neighbors do with far away lands, it's only a matter of time before propagules arrive here. It is super-arid here, pretty much depriving spores of the environment they need to grow. That trend will continue for my garden, even if late blight becomes more widespread in the rest of the continent.

Late blight has become established in eastern Washington, and it's common for storms to blow right through there on their way to my place. Plenty of opportunity to spread late blight. In the 2015 growing season, there was an outbreak only 2 counties away, but it hasn't returned since.

Any suggestions on seed-sanitation counter measures that might be appropriate? For example, would freezing kill spores in/on seeds? Would dehydration?

Edit to add: New thread created for tomato seed sanitation.


Plant Breeding / Re: Selecting orange endosperm flint corn.
« on: 2019-01-06, 07:42:53 PM »
I have noticed that if corn cobs are exposed to sunlight while drying, that the color of the seed can intensify dramatically compared to shade dried corn.

My reading of Raul Robinson's Return To Resistance, would seem to indicate that the way forward may be to eliminate the known resistance genes from the population, so that resistance can  be built up from a multitude of QTL traits, instead of depending on one "resistance" allele.

I am writing up instructions for Blight Tolerance Trials. What I really want to ask for, is that seeds be saved from those plants that are affected by the blight, but still manage to produce seeds. But that's too complicated to fit onto the label of a seed packet, so I'm asking for seeds back from anything that thrives in a garden where blight kills the domestic tomatoes, and that has promiscuous flowers, which I am defining as any of the following: Anthers not connected to each other. The style is plainly visible. The anther cone is wide open at the tip rather than constricted.

Plant Breeding / Re: Beginnings of a wheat landrace
« on: 2019-01-02, 11:23:47 PM »
Yup, I shed wheat diversity like crazy. About 70% of wheat varieties that I trial do poorly in my garden. I don't give them a second chance, other than as weeds.

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