Author Topic: Micro Tomatoes  (Read 458 times)

William S.

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Micro Tomatoes
« on: 2020-03-08, 11:42:42 AM »
We have had some conversations on this forum about the need for blight resistance breeding in tomatoes. Now it seems time to start talking about micro tomatoes.

I don't know if it would count as micro for sure but my one plant of F2 Lizzano last year was within the size range mentioned and is homozygous for the two late blight resistances.

Another thing that interests me about these is that they would be the perfect size for winter generations.

Though that also means that summer populations could be simply enormous which would make selection easy.

The smallest tomato plant varieties in my seed collection are also almost uniformly ultra early reds.

Off the top of my head:

Lizzano F2
Anmore Dewdrop
42 Days
Sweet Cherriette

Are all very small plants, though I am uncertain if they are small enough.

It would seem likely to me that a breeding effort with micros would also forward goals of getting more flavors and colors into ultra earlies because very small plant size seems to couple with earliness.

A really straightforward project for late blight disease resistance in micros might be to work with Lizzano and Skykomish to make a tiny bicolor without any of the problems associated with keeping the homozygous blight resistances.

Making controlled crosses is easier for me indoors so having a winter generation to make F1's with micros makes sense to me.

Does anyone have any grow light recommendations for winter micros?

Note: I'm not yet involved with micros and know nothing much about them- just thought I would point out a few possibilities , so am hoping someone who does will chime in quickly.
Western Montana garden, glacial lake Missoula sediment lacustrian silty clay mollisoil sometimes with added sand in places. Zone 6A with 100 to 130 frost free days

William S.

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Re: Micro Tomatoes
« Reply #1 on: 2020-03-08, 11:44:18 AM »
They are typically plants that are only about 6"-12" in height, sometimes up to 18". They mostly produce cherry-sized fruit - but we're working on that. Red Robin is a pretty popular commercially available micro.

Started a micro tomato thread
Western Montana garden, glacial lake Missoula sediment lacustrian silty clay mollisoil sometimes with added sand in places. Zone 6A with 100 to 130 frost free days

William S.

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Re: Micro Tomatoes
« Reply #2 on: 2020-03-08, 06:06:23 PM »
Looked up Red Robin and found days to maturity in the 70 day range. That doesn't seem worthwhile to me in comparison to say Anmore Dewdrop, Lizzano, or Sweet Cherriette. I bet a Lizzano dehybridization project could improve on its DTM.
Western Montana garden, glacial lake Missoula sediment lacustrian silty clay mollisoil sometimes with added sand in places. Zone 6A with 100 to 130 frost free days

Diane Whitehead

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Re: Micro Tomatoes
« Reply #3 on: 2020-03-08, 06:50:01 PM »
If the micro tomatoes are going to be grown under cover, they shouldn't need blight resistance. 
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
cool mediterranean climate  warm dry summers, mild wet winters,  70 cm rain,   sandy soil

William S.

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Re: Micro Tomatoes
« Reply #4 on: 2020-03-08, 07:31:13 PM »
If the micro tomatoes are going to be grown under cover, they shouldn't need blight resistance.

I think the same logic could apply to Lizzano and yet it has the blight resistance so that people can grow it outside in pots in blight prone areas.

So it might be nice to grow micros in the winter, but also nice to grow in pots in the summer out where spores could get them. Even direct planted in the garden small tomato plants work well for me. I can plant them quite densely without them turming into jungles. Also no staking. I would definitely plant a vast microforest of the F2s in the garden when crossing one micro with another.
« Last Edit: 2020-03-08, 07:38:01 PM by William S. »
Western Montana garden, glacial lake Missoula sediment lacustrian silty clay mollisoil sometimes with added sand in places. Zone 6A with 100 to 130 frost free days

Diane Whitehead

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Re: Micro Tomatoes
« Reply #5 on: 2020-03-08, 08:31:15 PM »
Maybe you could get a wee drone to fly over and pick them.
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
cool mediterranean climate  warm dry summers, mild wet winters,  70 cm rain,   sandy soil

William S.

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Re: Micro Tomatoes
« Reply #6 on: 2020-03-08, 09:05:22 PM »
Maybe you could get a wee drone to fly over and pick them.
Picking is actually a problem for me and cherry tomatoes. I tend to plant so many tomatoes that the wee tomatoes don't get picked except for the occasional mouthful. Some of my favorite flavor cherry tomato varieties like Coyote and Amethyst Cream are just eaten in the garden because they tend to rip and break when picked so its pretty pointless to bring them back to the house.
Western Montana garden, glacial lake Missoula sediment lacustrian silty clay mollisoil sometimes with added sand in places. Zone 6A with 100 to 130 frost free days

SeanInVa

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Re: Micro Tomatoes
« Reply #7 on: 2020-03-10, 06:57:36 AM »
There are some micros that are earlier than others. Red Robin, while being the prototypical micro tomato, is not necessarily early - as has been noted.

The particular project Diane, Dan, and myself are working on is an umbrella project with the main intent to diversify micros. It is composed of smaller, more focused projects. Currently there are two active sub-projects that Dan has initiated.

MMF - Massively Multi-Flora
BLT-Worthy - Enhancing flavor and size in micros

MMF
This one has had much more progress. Dan was participating with ChrisK, who was developing a particular MMF micro variety. ChrisK allowed Dan to use that variety as a parent in any number of other crosses for Dan to work on independently. First, Dan was focusing on developing more micros with the MMF trait - so we now have several lines that explode in hundreds of flowers - but we're still developing these.

BLT-Worthy
Dan's goal here was to develop micros that produce tomatoes that taste more like big meaty indeterminates, and are big enough you can make a sandwich with them. Please note, we don't believe it likely we're going to grow 12oz tomatoes on a 6-inch plant, but we are showing that you can grow bigger-than-cherry tomatoes on a small plant. From our notes, I believe Dan has grown up to 6oz tomatoes so far (on a F2 - don't see notes on plant height for this one). I see several that hit ~3 oz on plants closer to 12-16". I have a ~6" plant now with a beefsteak shaped fruit that measures around 2-2.5" in width. We'll see weight once harvested and whether it tastes any good.

There are already several varieties of "micro" tomatoes out there, with many available via Heritage Seed Market. However, many don't taste very good, and many also have very thick skins (so much so that my wife has to spit them out).

One area micros do well in though, is indoors under lights. This allows one to produce some level of tomatoes during winter, in a spare room or garage, if for nothing else than to have a decent addition to salads :)

Currently, we have some ~159 crosses Dan has made. The majority are crosses between that line from ChrisK (at the F4 and F5 generations) with various other tomatoes - many indeterminates. Dan has also then taken some of those results and crossed them with each other.

We're still quite early in the project overall, but we are definitely finding some very interesting combinations, and it seems we're finding some very tasty tomatoes :)

William S.

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Re: Micro Tomatoes
« Reply #8 on: 2020-03-10, 07:12:14 AM »
Sean,

Does any tomato plant within the size limits you mentioned on the introduction page qualify as micro? I think my single F2 Lizzano plant last year fit. I saved a lot of seed from it thinking of future growouts.
Western Montana garden, glacial lake Missoula sediment lacustrian silty clay mollisoil sometimes with added sand in places. Zone 6A with 100 to 130 frost free days

SeanInVa

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Re: Micro Tomatoes
« Reply #9 on: 2020-03-10, 07:56:24 AM »
Sean,

Does any tomato plant within the size limits you mentioned on the introduction page qualify as micro? I think my single F2 Lizzano plant last year fit. I saved a lot of seed from it thinking of future growouts.

If you are asking about these you listed:

Lizzano F2
Anmore Dewdrop
42 Days
Sweet Cherriette

I am not familiar with any of those, however

Anmore Dewdrop - based on the description at WTS - likely.
42 days - based on the Burpee description - no
Sweet Cherriette - based on the lone description I could find - I doubt it, but would need more info

Lizzano F2 - need more info on this

SeanInVa

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Re: Micro Tomatoes
« Reply #10 on: 2020-03-10, 08:08:52 AM »
Does anyone have any grow light recommendations for winter micros?

Some people have had success with tube flourescents, but I would not personally recommend them. If that's what you have already, then it doesn't hurt to try using them.

I am a fan of LEDs and have been using them for years. You can get more plants under them, and they don't have to sit right on top of the plants. I use a combination of lights. I picked up a 170watt (actual draw) "high bay" light from Home Depot for $100. I had to wire in a plug. It has a cover which diffuses the light some. Worked very well about 2.5-3' above starts this winter in my garage. Growth was slower than might otherwise happen outdoors. My garage is also mostly not insulated and temps were regularly 45-55F at night. I was able to cover a 2x4' area no problem (4 flats).

I have higher powered "blurple" (red/blue color light) LEDs that I also use in smaller grow tents with the lights around 3.5-4' above the plants. These are "grow lights" so don't have any diffusion covers, and instead have lenses that focus the light more directly down to get better light penetration below the plant canopy. It's very easy to "burn" (sun scald) the plants with these if the light is too close.

Attached is a picture of some of the project plants growing under the above-mentioned light from HD. Notice the second tray with bigger, more yellow plants. Those lived under one of the higher powered LED lights for about a week. They accelerated growth so fast they showed pretty serious nutrient deficiencies. I moved them back under this light and they slowly greened up. Soil is just basic yellow-bag miracle grow, and the pots are basic 4" azalea pots.

William S.

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Re: Micro Tomatoes
« Reply #11 on: 2020-03-10, 09:41:16 AM »
If you are asking about these you listed:

Lizzano F2
Anmore Dewdrop
42 Days
Sweet Cherriette

I am not familiar with any of those, however

Anmore Dewdrop - based on the description at WTS - likely.
42 days - based on the Burpee description - no
Sweet Cherriette - based on the lone description I could find - I doubt it, but would need more info

Lizzano F2 - need more info on this

My garden and gardening tends to keep plants small. In my garden soil tomato plants never reach their size potential.

 I think the Sweet Cherriette might be short enough but spread to far. Though that's only a guess. Its my shortest season DTM cherry tomato at 35 DTM from transplant. It is a pretty small plant for me.

The Lizzano might end up micro sized if dehybridized in the same way Anmore Dewdrop was- with an eye on earliness. My 2019 plant was tiny.
« Last Edit: 2020-03-10, 10:54:17 AM by William S. »
Western Montana garden, glacial lake Missoula sediment lacustrian silty clay mollisoil sometimes with added sand in places. Zone 6A with 100 to 130 frost free days

Steph S

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Re: Micro Tomatoes
« Reply #12 on: 2020-03-11, 03:09:52 PM »
The great thing about micros is that you can grow them in a window without supplemental light and have tomatoes.  They don't need physical support either, and didn't try to crawl out the window like other 'determinate' 'dwarf' or 'small' varieties I've tried in our late winter conditions indoors.  The only one I've grown is Red Dwarf (aka Roter Zwerg) and it tolerated low light (occasional sun) as well as coolish indoor temps (usually 64-68 F unless bright sunshine).   Did okay in colder temps in the greenhouse too, but needs sun and warmth to sweeten up the fruit.

For people in the North, cohabiting with vegetables is, IMO, the future.  It is not sustainable to heat facilities to grow things in the winter.  The distributed model of food production, where everyone has something growing in house, is the obvious option.   Poach your own heat, add light as needed.   So micros have a beautiful role in that future.   Breeding for bigger or tastier fruit, earliness, yield or just plain variety of fruit colors and tastes, is really worthwhile. :)

Dominic J

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Re: Micro Tomatoes
« Reply #13 on: 2020-03-24, 06:59:30 PM »
I've started growing my own Lizzanos. I intend to both dehybridize them, as well as cross them with others. I've not had any experience with micros yet.