Author Topic: my tomato projects for the cool and fickle climate 2021  (Read 814 times)

Steph S

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Guess it's time to post some notes and pics.
I got a little overexcited at seed planting time, due to having two probable/presumed stable OP's this year, in my favorite line.   With the prospect of actually "finishing" something, I went through my binder looking for side crosses and anything determinate that got sidelined, and before you know it I had started seeds for way more projects than I have room for in the greenhouse.   They all germinated around March 24th, and got planted out a bit late, in the middle of May.
With only a 12X28 ft greenhouse, the default number for exploring a line in a given year is usually six plants.  Six can be lucky, it can also be unlucky, so the search is somewhat desultory and a lot of projects end up on the back burner, as the most promising get space to be pursued forward.

1) Skipper Pink and Skipper Brown F7 - sibling determinates from (Napoli Fiaschetto X Black Cherry) det black F2 X (Zolotoe Serdtse X Black Early F1)  These are very similar large 2-3 locule cherries with gf/gf, but the plants are more different than the fruit.  Skipper Brown is a much larger plant with longer clusters and thus more productive of the two.  But it has shown a tendency to get some foliage disease before all the fruiting is done, where the smaller plant Skipper Pink is hassle free all season long. Untroubled foliage is a key trait in the majority of plants from these lines.  This year I'm experimenting with larger containers/more nutes for SB to see whether that is enough to stop those foliage concerns.  One each of SB/SP will be planted outdoors when the time comes, to check performance in the raw, while the others expect to be kept in the no bee zone for seed production.
2) Rodney F5  This is a sibling line to the Skippers from the same original cross.  Small beefs with a smooth texture, this particular selection had a unique taste which I'm hoping to find again.
3) ORFI F2  From a larger fruited determinate F1 of the cross  Orange-1 X (Napoli Fiaschetto X Black Cherry F1).  These could be Beta orange, half Beta, red, black or even pink, granted that recessives pop up when you're not expecting them.  The plants look rugged and I really like the growth habit so far.
4) Yellow Project - whew.  This rambling project has gone everywhere but not where I wanted it.
Kimberley X Zolotye Kupola, later crossed to Medovaya Kaplya and then to v Desyatku to get determinate,
I have 3 yellow fruited determinate F3's and 5 F4s, planted into 3 gallon pots just searching for the delicious fruity yellow taste I had in a crazy large indeterminate plant with susceptible foliage.  I also fished out a cross between that indeterminate yellow F2 and the determinate cherry from (NaF x BC) to maybe try a rescue cross with the most promising F3 or 4.
5) (NaF x BC) determinate black F2  X Winter Sky F2 (Zolotoe Serdtse X Indian Stripe) F1.  The Winter Sky was a Beta/- orange with a great taste, but I grew out half dozen of F3 and again 6 of the F4 but didn't find a single determinate. So I was thinking there was no determinate there and sidelined it.  This F1 I managed to squeeze two plants in, one year, both of which were indet red cherries, no Beta.   These went into even smaller pots (maybe a gallon or a half?) and nearly got given away except for one that I kept for a fruit to get F2 seeds.  When to my surprise yesterday as I was shuffling plants around I discovered that three of the plants in small pots are Determinates!!!  Very pleased about that, I will have to find em space though.
6) I also have a few indeterminates - F1's with determinate cross.
Indeterminates don't meet my criteria for low maintenance tomatoes.  So I made a couple of crosses last summer, to a determinate minibeef F6 in the Skipper line.  1) My favorite early low maintenance bicolor, that is Oaxaca Jewel PL.  I've tried to use this plant as the female in the cross many times and all failed.  This time it was pollen donor.  2)  An indeterminate line involving PI120256.  [(Eva Purple Ball X PI120256) F1  X (Stupice X Black Cherry) mini beef F2]F2. Both the F1 and the F2 of the 4 parent cross were early and productive, selected the largest and tastiest red ruffled fruit in the F2.  I'm hoping to get some more regular ruffled shapes in the determinate cross.
Both of these F1s have shown some superior heat tolerance compared with my other lines, there are no blossom drops on them from our couple of scorching days, as there are on practically every other plant..
I have one more indeterminate, the only OP I managed to squeeze in is Amish Yellowish Orange Oxheart, a first time grow for me, and growing it for the tt tangerine, will probably cross to Rodney to get a determinate line with tt and larger fruit.  Oh and  Datlo (a tt cherry) crossed with NaFBC F2 determinate.  So assuming I get the seeds and the cross, I will have two alternate tangerine lines to play with.

So that is the list of plants that are crammed in the unheated greenhouse June 10, while snow is covering the ground.  2 days ago we were close to 27C and today the temperature has been steady near 3C while it rained, dropped to 1C at this hour as it changed to snow, and expected to snow until midnight.   The greenhouse high was 58 F up from 55 early this morning and currently 50 F.  I don't expect it'll be too bad tonight since it isn't windy and the glazing looks to be covered with snow.  Should be nothing the plants can't handle, but I am glad I didn't put them outdoors earlier when the weather was fine.


Steph S

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Re: my tomato projects for the cool and fickle climate 2021
« Reply #1 on: 2021-06-11, 06:48:04 AM »
Besides fruit set and stress responses, this is the time of the year when I am looking at growth habit, inflorescence architecture and the like, which are easier to see before the plants get too big.  Some underlying fruit shape traits are also easier to see in early than in mature fruit: pointy ends, locule dimples (ruffles) for example.
Going through pics and realizing I don't have terminology for different inflorescences, I spent my hour this morning looking for terms and found a couple of interesting articles.

https://www.mdpi.com/2073-4425/11/11/1278/htm
This 2020 study is a really nice reference for basic tomato genetics and compares wild relatives too.
They use the term "fishbone" for the typical cherry inflorescence, that is a single stalk with alternating flower stems,
and two other traits "forked" and "compound", so all types of inflorescence can be described by combinations of these.

Another study reported here:
https://www.cshl.edu/study-uncovers-a-molecular-maturation-clock-that-modulates-branching-architecture-in-tomato-plants/
describes a "clock" mechanism for differences between cultivated and wild tomato relative inflorescence types.

Steph S

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Re: my tomato projects for the cool and fickle climate 2021
« Reply #2 on: 2021-06-11, 08:34:01 AM »
An example of the 'fishbone'.  Both Skipper Brown and Skipper Pink have this simple truss architecture typical of cherries. Skipper Brown has a longer truss, and was selected for that trait of 9-10 flowers per.   It is interesting though that environment plays a role in the length of truss with this architecture.   Smaller containers = fewer resources results in a shorter truss.  Both SP and SB are variable in truss length, with the longest trusses in the larger container.  I also found it interesting that Skipper Pink, which is a more compact plant in a 5 gallon pot, is as tall as Skipper Brown in the larger container, with 8-9 flowers per truss instead of 7-8.   

Steph S

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Re: my tomato projects for the cool and fickle climate 2021
« Reply #3 on: 2021-06-11, 08:40:45 AM »
This F2 has some interesting forked clusters - not sure if this is forked/compound but will see as it unfolds.

Steph S

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Re: my tomato projects for the cool and fickle climate 2021
« Reply #4 on: 2021-06-11, 09:43:27 AM »
The Rodney line is surprisingly stable for growth habit.  All 6 plants are the same size.  They all start with 2 sequential clusters.  But the distance between the two is variable, to my mind this is probably adaptation to the microenvironment and not a heritable trait.  The interactions between environment and growth habit are really strong.  Just crowding alone can change the shape of a plant in a couple of weeks.   I suppose the variability of growth habit or the extent/speed of adaptation to microenvironment is a measure of adaptibility in a given line.  Usually I'm looking for features that are a benefit to the fruit outcome - how fast do they put up a support sucker, how well placed are the flowers to be sheltered and supported.  Anyway the Rodney line mainly have a strong support sucker or second leader just below those first clusters, which is nice for support.


Steph S

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Re: my tomato projects for the cool and fickle climate 2021
« Reply #5 on: 2021-06-11, 09:54:25 AM »
I discovered something else this morning - one of the ORFI F2 has gf type flower coloration.  So that will be a black or some combination of black or brown and Beta.
Flower color is a useful tell in some cases, which is great if you don't have the space for many plants. 
The other F2 sibs have the color typical of Beta which is the same as for red or pink fruit.  gf/gf flowers are similar to yellow, that is yellow or greenish yellow anthers, while a red or Beta orange will have a warmer orange tone.  The color does change as they mature but if you have gf and non plants flowering side by side you can generally tell the difference.

Steph S

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Re: my tomato projects for the cool and fickle climate 2021
« Reply #6 on: 2021-06-11, 10:01:09 AM »
Check out the flower color for Amish Yellowish Orange Oxheart which is tt tangerine.  I'm really looking forward to working with some tangerine lines because the flowers are a great tell.  I have grown a few other tangerine OP's and in some cases the orange can be very subtle, but this one is intense.  The other tangerine I've crossed is the cherry Datlo, and it too has very intensely orange anthers.  Maybe some pigment intensifiers in these lines.  The more subtle tangerine flowers, it's most obvious in the petals as they're ready to drop, fading to a soft orange color instead of the straw yellow of a typical tomato flower.

William S.

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Re: my tomato projects for the cool and fickle climate 2021
« Reply #7 on: 2021-06-11, 09:01:56 PM »
Very fancy work! I have a lot of packets of roads not taken yet. So I understand this impulse to plant a lot of tomatoes.
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Steph S

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Re: my tomato projects for the cool and fickle climate 2021
« Reply #8 on: 2021-06-12, 03:54:03 AM »
Yeh... when you think about the goal as being 'low maintenance' tomatoes, the path to it has sure been piled up with high maintenance years. ::)  I took a season two years ago and just grew the determinate Skippers, nothing else.  It was finally the dream of great tomatoes with hardly any work. But I missed the diversity of color and taste, so there's still a way to go.
Also the addictive thing about breeding is the surprises.  :)  Having an F2 or an F3 to watch is fun.

Steph S

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Re: my tomato projects for the cool and fickle climate 2021
« Reply #9 on: 2021-06-12, 04:12:13 AM »
One thing that was educational about overcrowding the tomatoes, I learned about potassium defects, and the need to select away from that.   I think if there is something really special about the Skippers, they have a great potassium metabolism.  They don't ripen unevenly, even in cloudy or crowdy conditions, and they are really sweet even when they ripen in the cold.
I notice in that article I linked, that higher brix is found in the wild relatives, and in this case it seems to have come mainly from Zolotoe Serdtse, which is quite a sweet tomato.   The downfall of both ZS and I think Orange-1 is that they were bred for 'firmness', and that seems to be associated with the risk of potassium defects (uneven ripening).

In my ZS crosses I found the firmness was a very dominant trait, and produced a lot of hard and slow ripening tomatoes. But at the dosage of 1/4 ZS parentage there was segregation including some softer textures like Rodney and those like the Skipper which are just firm enough to be non cracking.
I won't be surprised if the ORFI F2 turn out to be hard as rocks either.

William S.

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Re: my tomato projects for the cool and fickle climate 2021
« Reply #10 on: 2021-06-12, 05:23:06 AM »
F2 is such a magical year. I direct seeded some Big Hill seed to look for F1's this year and I wish I had some exciting F2 seed to plant. I do have one. In 2019 I direct seeded multiple F2s together and it was a lot of fun.
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Richard Watson

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Re: my tomato projects for the cool and fickle climate 2021
« Reply #11 on: 2021-06-18, 12:01:58 AM »
Check out the flower color for Amish Yellowish Orange Oxheart which is tt tangerine.  I'm really looking forward to working with some tangerine lines because the flowers are a great tell.  I have grown a few other tangerine OP's and in some cases the orange can be very subtle, but this one is intense.  The other tangerine I've crossed is the cherry Datlo, and it too has very intensely orange anthers.  Maybe some pigment intensifiers in these lines.  The more subtle tangerine flowers, it's most obvious in the petals as they're ready to drop, fading to a soft orange color instead of the straw yellow of a typical tomato flower.


They are a really interesting looking flower
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Richard Watson

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Re: my tomato projects for the cool and fickle climate 2021
« Reply #12 on: 2021-06-18, 12:08:34 AM »
Steph, looking at your green house, is it glass of polycarb?
Changeable climate manly during winter & spring - 500mm average yearly rainfall. 20 years of soil improvements plus sub soil top soil reversal means my garden beds are about half metre deep. Below that is 100's of metres of alluvial shingle

Steph S

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Re: my tomato projects for the cool and fickle climate 2021
« Reply #13 on: 2021-06-18, 04:46:54 AM »
Richard, the greenhouse is glass.  It's attached to the south side of my house, unheated, and 4 ft under ground.  Captures a lot of heat - it's really not well designed for plants, and the glass is much worse than plastic which diffuse the light.  The glazing in the end wall and the kneewall is lexan from the original build which collapsed one year under extreme amount of snow.  The glass was a second hand buy when it was rebuilt.
This is one reason I decided to focus on determinate plants, because almost nothing can set fruit in sunny weather when the plants grow up close to the glazing. (Stupice and its descendants do better than any others I've grown).
After last week's snow we've settled into a summer weather pattern, at least for the next week, with highs of 20-23C and nighttime lows at least 6C, mostly over 10 C this week although dew points are lower.  So far I've moved 15 plants outdoors to relieve the overcrowding.  I wouldn't normally do this until July, but will see how it goes. Everything has to be tied on, it is extremely windy here all year round.


Richard Watson

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Re: my tomato projects for the cool and fickle climate 2021
« Reply #14 on: 2021-06-18, 03:37:19 PM »
Ok, so you have gone down into ground for the heat sink effect! Ive based mine on the same principal but had to build up thanks to the odd time when the water table gets up near the ground surface
I asked about what the roofing material is because Ive seen people put clear plastic on the underside of the wooden framing which made a huge difference to the heat retention, would be easy to do yours the same too.
Changeable climate manly during winter & spring - 500mm average yearly rainfall. 20 years of soil improvements plus sub soil top soil reversal means my garden beds are about half metre deep. Below that is 100's of metres of alluvial shingle