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Fusion_power November 29, 2012 02:51 AM

An interesting breeding possibility
I have a tomato variety that can survive temps down to 22 degrees fahrenheit.

I have several tomato varieties that are precocious flowering.

TGRC has a tomato with the ft gene that induces fruit set at temps as low as 40 F.

My thought is to cross the three and over a period of about 12 generations try to develop a tomato that can survive 22 degrees, flower as a very young plant, and set fruit at temps as low as 40 degrees.

So what use would it be? Well, we all love to have ripe tomatoes as early in the season as possible. With a variety like this, it would be possible to move the season back as much as 4 weeks so instead of getting ripe fruit in early June, I could have ripe tomatoes in early May.

There are a lot of possible problems though, it might not be possible to combine all the different genes.


habitat_gardener November 29, 2012 02:59 AM

It almost never gets down to 22F here. So could this be a perennial temperate (mediterranean) climate plant? It would need to have some resistance to fungal diseases, or else be grown in a hoophouse or greenhouse to shelter it from the winter rains.

But the important question is, how do the 3 varieties taste? Are any of them worth eating? (See Hempel's Rule.)

Diriel November 29, 2012 04:38 AM

Color me interested.

amideutch November 29, 2012 06:22 AM

I'll bet our two Alaska members (Sherry AK, akgardengirl) would be interested. Ami

ddsack November 29, 2012 09:11 AM

Dar - if you need volunteers for cold weather testing ... I'm here ... 8-):dizzy::cute:

Fusion_power November 29, 2012 09:32 AM

Wouldn't you know that the first question is "how does it taste?"

One of the varieties will be a selection that mother nature made for me in 2007 when an unusual April 7th freeze killed 5000 plants.... and left a small handfull of one single variety alive. It happens to be a decent flavored tomato.

The precocious flowering variety is kind of magicians choice. I could use Kimberly, Bloody Butcher, etc. These are not fabulous, but they are decent flavored.

I won't know what the TGRC variety tastes like until I get a chance to try it.

If you think this through, tomatoes that mature in cold temps do not develop the flavor of fruit that matures in warm temps. What I am speculating can be bred is a tomato that rolls back the spring planting date by 4 weeks but which would mature fruit during warmer weather so the flavor would be decent. From what I see so far, it looks feasible. As for using it as a perennial in mild climates, that should also work, but will require some effort to incorporate disease tolerance.


bower November 29, 2012 11:31 AM

Count me as a volunteer, Dar, to test cold tolerance and help growout F2's and so on!

A tomato that can tolerate 22 F may even survive overwinter in my unheated greenhouse. We do not get extreme low temperatures here due to the ocean effect on climate. Our coldest temps are around -12 C, and not usually for more than 2 weeks in a year (January or February). Instead we have a freeze-thaw cycle that repeats multiple times in every month of the year, and the typical winter lows are a few C below zero. But we don't get much sunshine in a normal year either, so year round there's a need for cold tolerance, even in the greenhouse. There is also a lot of variation on a year to year basis - severe crop losses in 2011 for example due to a very cold and wet summer. 7/10 cultivars I trialed that summer did not produce more than a fruit or two. :no:

I am always looking for cold tolerant tomatoes to trial, and gathering the genetic material for breeding purposes. Might I ask whether there is any seed for the 22F tomato to spare? I would be happy to return you 100's of saved seeds to maintain your fresh stock, in exchange for one seed to grow out in my greenhouse (closed, no pollinators). 8-)

ljp November 29, 2012 11:32 AM

If you develop the cross, I'd be willing to try it. Our spring features warm days and hard freezes at night. I hate not being able to plant out until the end of May, 14+ hours of daylight. At the other end of the season, it would add a month. July 2012 the average high was 25 C (77 F) and the average low was 14.5 C (58 F ). There is a lot of variability in our summer temperatures from year to year, actually day to day.

Fred Hempel November 29, 2012 11:46 AM


Sounds fascinating, and it sounds like your "22 degree" variety alone could be very valuable. Are you going to sell the seeds? I would be interested.

Redbaron November 29, 2012 11:59 AM

That's a very interesting possibility Fusion. It might even make tomatoes a reasonable commercial crop here in Oklahoma. The main reason it is so hard is the cold fronts. But the majority of the year is relatively warm and sunny. Until the killer heat finally hits. For example this year I got a freeze that killed off all my Tomatoes even earlier than most people up north. But it was only 30 degrees and frost. One day and all my tomatoes were gone, with at least another month of warm weather hitting as high as the low 80's later. My peppers didn't die and continued to grow quite well. So a tomato that could survive a freak freeze here in Oklahoma could actually extend the season 4 months here. 2 in the spring and maybe even 2 in the fall. Possibly even more but like you said, winter quality would likely be dramatically reduced.

That's an awesome find Dar!

frdlturner November 29, 2012 01:07 PM

interesting a cold weather tomato... the possibilities

Tania November 29, 2012 01:12 PM

I am so looking forward to the outcome! It is a very interesting project. Having a tomato surviving temperatures below freezing is already a breakthrough.

salix November 29, 2012 01:38 PM

Exciting possibilities! I echo the previous comments - am especially interested in the hope of extending the season by a few weeks both early and late.

Diriel November 29, 2012 02:02 PM

Although I live in 9b currently, that will not always be the case. It would be very nice indeed to have a tomato variety that is ultra hardy. For that matter, it would be genuinely fun to see if I could have maters more or less year around! Weather here very rarely gets down to 22F. On the other side of the equation, it does get quite hot in the summer.

How awesome would it be to "Plant tomato's" for a winter crop? Truth be told for me to be extremely interested, it would only need to have "as good as" your average super-market tomato "taste". I would *MUCH* rather eat a tomato mid-winter that I personally grew, than pay for a store bought one that I have no idea how it was grown.

Now for Summer varieties, I want a tonne of good old fashioned tomato flavor. But at that point we are talking about two entirely different "aminals" <--:)

maf November 29, 2012 06:19 PM

Interesting project, Dar I wish you the best success.

For those who are hoping this might extend the season in the fall, please be aware that even if the vine could handle 22F, the tomatoes on the vines would be spoiled by a hard freeze.

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