Author Topic: Planning for a 2023 tomato breeding project  (Read 558 times)

William Schlegel

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Re: Planning for a 2023 tomato breeding project
« Reply #15 on: 2022-06-20, 08:52:19 AM »
https://jandlgardens.com/xencart/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=81&sort=20a&page=1&zenid=93tpdsua38l2boas5k9f5amlr6

A favorite plant breeder whose work I have been sampling for years now in New Mexico has an interesting list of cold tolerant varieties. Lee Goodwin. Ambrosia Gold is his Sungold dehybridizaton. Krainy Sever also makes the list.

Glacier is an old standby here but I don't grow it anymore because I think I've found even earlier tomatoes. Subarctic plenty deserves a better grow out from me but I don't think I have space to do better grow outs same for Siberian neither rose to the top of the list but may have if more plants had been grown. Or if I equalized things by using fresh seed.

Fruit set: nights above fifty have been sparse this year. Sweet Cherriette, Mexico Midget, and Black Strawberry (Lee Goodwin's work) have fruit set already in the open field. Might be more out there.

Standouts from my 2017 attempt:

earliest:
Sweet Cherriette
Jagodka (this was the strain I got from Earl)
sungold F2
Anmore Dewdrop

Almost as early:
Tumbler F1 (note this is Anmore Dewdrop's parent)
Krainiy Sever
42 Days
Coyote
forest fire

Takeaway for me in retrospect: Sungold F1 and Krainiy Sever could be a really interesting cross for flavor, earliness, cold tolerance, and dwarf growing habit that keeps the fruit off the ground.

In subsequent years I have found a few more interestingly early varieties including Joseph Lofthouse's Brad and Terrior Seeds Galapagos tomato.

« Last Edit: 2022-06-20, 09:40:24 AM by William S. »
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Steph S

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Re: Planning for a 2023 tomato breeding project
« Reply #16 on: 2022-06-20, 04:01:08 PM »
Couple of thoughts about your lineup and plans.
Why two spaces for each variety?  If I only have 20 spaces, I would use the space to cast a wider net.  You might make exceptions for variable populations because, obviously, each individual will be unique.  But for OP's, you really don't need more than one, and could have the opportunity to sample more widely those best parents for your site.

Siberian, Subarctic Plenty, Glacier.   What's in a name.  I wouldn't give two spots to any of these, for sure.  I haven't grown Siberian and Subarctic Plenty.  Mainly because they weren't rated highly for flavor and fruit quality, at least in my reading before I made my choices.  Glacier I have grown once, it wasn't determinate as expected so maybe not true to type.  It wasn't a great fruit and I wouldn't use it in breeding.  You are better off using early parents that have promising fruit quality.  Granted that tomato performance can be very site (or season) specific, if you've grown these before and found them good, disregard my comment.  But if you haven't grown them, don't bank on them being the best parent for high quality fruit.   The year I trialed multiple "extra early" tomatoes very few were both early and fit to eat.  Alaska and Kimberley were the best tasting of the lot.   I would definitely use Alaska for both taste and earliness, and probably would've but by mishap ended up without saved seed. Likewise you are better off with the earlies that you listed, which William regularly grows and recommended.

Secondly, I would think about your crossing plan.  You don't want to cross anything closely related, you want to make wide crosses, so think about the origins of the plants in your first year stable.  Your Lofthouse plants are the ones with wild relative genetics, so they are key parents for the frost tolerance.   Sungold is also suspected to have wild relative ancestry, add that to the same side of the parent page. Coyote too.   Think about the fruit quality traits you want to combine with earliness and cold tolerance.  You have Black Cherry (USA, recent, Vince Sapp, parentage not released) as a flavor parent.   You need some more flavor and fruit quality parents in this mix.  OP's from another continent at least, increases the chances of genetic distance.  Besides Eastern Europe, I wouldn't omit Italian varieties either, especially if growing some for sauce, which although genetically narrow have been intensively selected for field production.  Costuloto Genovese rated highly in a study of cold tolerance.  I've grown it and indeed it was very tolerant of conditions here that year.

I originally followed your comments about small fruit and cherries being earlier and most feasible but when I re-read I saw your comments about growing Brandywine - a tomato that is notoriously stingy with fruit and difficult to grow successfully except in its preferred micro environment.  I don't know much at all about Eastern European cherries and small fruits as I mostly grew hearts and beefs looking for size and flavor combined with earliness and climate tolerance.   But I could easily send you a dozen Eastern European/Russian beefs or hearts that did well for me and might be a size or flavor parent for your early cold tolerant match, if you want them.  My seeds are not as fresh as you'd get in a current year swap but they're still good to my knowledge.  Let me know if that would help.

William Schlegel

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Re: Planning for a 2023 tomato breeding project
« Reply #17 on: 2022-06-20, 06:57:44 PM »
Just a word about space. I was sort of growing along with Joseph year after year. I realized that I wasn't producing anything exciting. Every year Joseph would send me the exciting new generation and I would grow it. Thing is his gardens were quite a lot larger than mine and he had more of them for isolation. So a couple years ago, during the pandemic maybe, I created a system of six isolation gardens out on the land. So this year actually I have ten isolation experiments some of them only semi isolated. I also stopped growing so many other things and concentrated more on just tomatoes. I think that helps a bit with keeping up with Joseph! Maybe I'll have exciting seed to send his way soon. In fact I suspect I will because "The One" "Little Pumpkins" "Exserted Salmon" are all isolates from last year's grow out of his project and they have lots of offspring this year and if any are exciting two years in a row I think they'll be heading back his way.

You can definitely breed in any size garden, where things get really tricky is the F2 grow outs when you might like a particularly large grow out size. So I guess my mantra is "crowd it, crowd it, crowd it" for breeding. For instance if I could just expand my garden by one four foot by 25 foot raised bed for tomato breeding I might grow 200 severely crowded tomato plants in it one for every six square inches of surface space. I would not expect nearly as much food production from that bed as a similar sized tomato bed I planted for tomato plants to actually do well, but it would allow me to grow variable
material in a relatively small garden.

So do put 25 plants in the same hole, do put 20 plants in the same five gallon bucket, and do crowd it, crowd it, crowd it!

My gardens are sort of shockingly large and spread over about eight acres plus a few in other places. They definitely aren't for good tomato production from individual plants. I have shallow soil too and don't support so individual plants can be quite small. I could probably grow a huge plant like some gardeners do if I dug out the clay accumulation layer, imported or concentrated topsoil and compost and added support. Though somehow that project isn't rising to the top of the list!
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Steph S

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Re: Planning for a 2023 tomato breeding project
« Reply #18 on: 2022-06-21, 12:11:00 PM »
Crowding definitely works for some traits, but it has its limits.  If you're selecting for frost tolerance or disease resistance in small seedlings or young plants, why not.
Even for taste, in a cherry, you can cram 4 or a half dozen into the space for one plant, and usually get a sample from all of them.
In my environment, I was able to get plants to produce determinate vs indeterminate pattern in about a ? half gallon pot I think.  Or a 1 gallon.  But I was unable to do this in for example the beer cup volume of soil, where they just wouldn't even try to make more than one cluster of buds, for the most part.
Larger fruited tomatoes won't produce at all if they don't have the resources.
At some level of crowding, you will get plants that just go vegetative and don't set or grow any fruit, at least in my environment that's what I've seen.  Shade is an issue for production and also for fruit quality in some conditions - you can end up with uneven ripening (K defects).
Maybe it's a valid goal to eliminate those that aren't the most competitive plants, and if so, more crowding will provide the selection event.  For me personally, there's nothing more disappointing than a plant that doesn't produce any fruit to taste.  Growing a load of vine instead of a load of fruit is contrary my objectives.  ::) (Actually I have one now that I'm anxiously watching - the only PL in my F2 and the only one of them that isn't growing a bunch of fruit by now.  :(  Too crowded in sharing a 15gal tub with a sibling. Already voted least likely to move ahead, and I don't even know what fruit colors or tastes will be. )
If the primary goal is to assess fruit qualities like shape, color, taste, and you crowd to the max, you may be losing out on a chunk of candidates, where they may not produce due to the crowding itself or lucked out on resources due to some other confounding factor.
And of course you can't assess production values without using a full space per plant.
Last year I tried using 2-3 gallon pots to assess traits other than production, and so far it's a reasonable compromise, where I get enough fruit from each to get a proper taste assessment.  I really didn't assess for amount produced, so this year I have half of the plants in 5 gallon pots to check for that.
So I would advise to experiment with different levels of crowding and see what the results are and what actually works for you.  I have heard of large fruited types being grown in small pots where they are fed liquid ferts every week or quite often.  So there are various ways that might suit, depending on your growing space and environmental conditions.   

I have heard another breeder who said he grew 200 F2's and tasted them all in order to select one special tasting fruit.
Maybe it's true?
But in my experience, there's a limit to how many similar tasting fruit you can process and still discriminate between them.  It's not just me, I saw the same thing with my taste panel.  At about tomato #4, they start to say they taste "the same".
Realistically, if you have a half dozen plants to taste you can do that in two sessions, and then compare the best ones in a third.
And then you repeat your test to make sure you didn't miss anything due to degrees of ripeness, the fruit being slightly more shaded, or some other confounder of individual fruit vs overall performance.
I don't think there's any way I could taste evaluate 100 let alone 200 F2 siblings in one season.
For me, if I grow ten or a dozen F2's and don't find anything I especially like, I will shelve it and move on to another cross.
Some parent combinations don't produce what you hoped or expected.  Would you find that special plant by growing a hundred?  Maybe.  Or maybe not.
This is why I prefer to make lots of crosses.  Anything new that I'm growing that's at all promising, I'll make some crosses.  I'm not shackled to any one project, I can cast my net in a way that produces interesting food (and some sauce) and works for me and my space and evaluation limits.  If we have a crappy weather year and there's a line that disappoints, it's the other lines that go forward next season.
If the flavor genetics in a cross is at all promising, you should find something of interest in a dozen F2 plants.  Good taste can even be dominant, and most of your F2's tasty and staying that way through the generations, with a few worthless outliers to 'sauce' in a tasty line. 
If the parents taste genes are really divergent you may get all very different tastes, and in that case, may be worth growing more F2s to sample the full range.  But I would still split it between multiple years for my own space and pace.  And if the tastes are really all over the place, they are probably not going to be stable at F2 either.  So select what you like best, and see what happens in a bigger batch of F3 or later generations.
 
Back-crossing is another way to reduce the space requirement to stack up all the traits you want in one plant. 

William Schlegel

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Re: Planning for a 2023 tomato breeding project
« Reply #19 on: 2022-06-21, 06:56:14 PM »
Hmm, those are really good points.

I usually get a few fruits per plants at least in my crowded plantings and I don't worry too much.

With direct seeded crowding I have been disappointed in recent years. Last year I was sad I did not thin the direct seeded promiscuous project seedlings when they had first flowers and eliminate those without exsertion and or open flowers because I just couldn't evaluate the resulting mess later because it was just so dense and fruity. Since that population has volunteered back I might just have to do that thinning step this year. Though so far exsertion is just a lot less this year period.

I have some really important flavor selections to chase this year for maybe the first time and I don't know for sure how I should proceed. I would like to do a tasting event, but I have heard a tasting panel maxes out at about fifty is it? Also, it would be kind of boring to do a tasting of fifty from the same line. I usually taste when I seed save too but sometimes it is just overwhelming. I might have missed something really tasty with super closed flowers last year because I wasn't looking for that.

I am much more likely to find a favorite plant if it isn't so crowded. Last year also when I found favorite plants in direct seeded plantings sometimes I thinned around them to give them more space. Like the red potato leaf exserted in the north east most garden. So many hybrids from that plant! I think I have more seed saved too- don't think I used it all.
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Cathy A

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Re: Planning for a 2023 tomato breeding project
« Reply #20 on: 2022-06-23, 07:26:10 AM »

After reading the feedback here, and buying and reading Joseph Lofthouse's book _Landrace Gardening_, I'm going to take a different approach to the cool-weather tomato project.

The core of the project will be Panamorous Lofthouse Wildling from the Experimental Farm Network. That will give me a diverse set of genetics that can be crossed readily with my bumblebee population, without needing to do all the crosses by hand. However, since it is not self-incompatible, I will be able to extract promising sublines from it and breed them to be homozygous over several generations. A panamorous line and one or more separate homozygous future lines offers the best of both worlds.

I'll supplement the Panamorous Wildling line with existing varieties, probably including Sub Arctic Plenty, Siberian, Sweet Cherriette, Glacier, Sungold, Exserted Orange, Brad, and Jagodka.

Some of these (Brad, Jagodka) probably overlap with genetics in the wildling line, but I'd like to see how they perform on their own as well. I will hand cross the Sub Arctic Plenty, Siberian, Sweet Cherriette, Glacier, and Sungold back to the Wildling (and/or Exserted Orange?) by taking pollen from each and fertilizing the extended styles of the Wildling plants. Hopefully I will only have to do this for one generation to get some of their genetic line into the panamorous line and let it continue on its own from there.

Steph S

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Re: Planning for a 2023 tomato breeding project
« Reply #21 on: 2022-06-23, 01:15:45 PM »
Best of luck CathyA, and I hope you'll keep us posted. :)

William, do they really taste 50 tomatoes at a selection panel?  Or is that the usual OP/heirloom type event, where fruits are completely different but are still rated by all the tasters so you end up with a "top ten" for the year based on everybody's votes?
I've never been to one, so maybe I'm missing something as to how that is doable.
Just 50 bite sized pieces of tomato must add up to quite a bit...  and wondering at what point I would say, no more. :P  I suppose they must stop and eat bread or something in between..  or bread and mayo?  ;D

When I tried taste testing 6 different siblings at one time, we didn't get consensus among 3 of us, so it was less helpful to me.  Three different answers!
Testing 3-4 selections per line, we have done as many as 3 lines in one sitting with bread and fake beer in between, and got agreement among 3 or 4 people.  I have often done tastings like this with different tasters on different days, and still got the same answers, which is great.
But the tasters seem to wear out a long way before 50.
I guess I should ask someone how they do manage with the big heirloom tomato tastings.

William Schlegel

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Re: Planning for a 2023 tomato breeding project
« Reply #22 on: 2022-06-23, 10:25:43 PM »
I am dimly remembering the proper number. Have not tried it yet. Would like to. 
Western Montana garden, glacial lake Missoula sediment lacustrian parent material and shallow 7" silty clay loam mollisoil topsoil sometimes with added sand in places. Zone 6A with 100 to 130 frost free days