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Historical background information for varieties handed down from bygone days.

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Old July 4, 2015   #31
carolyn137
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Originally Posted by stevenkh1 View Post
Agreed on Perfection - I did grow some this year so if I see a pink/purple varient, then just *maybe*. I did go over to the seed bank and boy...I do not envy anyone culling through all those tomatos.
I could mention many people I know who have gone through the PC GRIN list, including myself.

The USDA site for tomatoes is at the Geneva, NY USDA station, so your seeds would come from there and if not there from the backup station in Fort Collins CO.

However, the largest majority of seeds that Craig L and I got out were either non-viable and/or X pollinated, especially if they came from Geneva b'c at the time they had zero distance planting between plants.

What happened next is that one person started going around the internet saying that everyone should use the USDA site to get their seeds since anyone who owed Federal taxes supported the USDA.

It came to pass that there were so many abuses of the system that they had to make folks jump through many hoops to justify getting seeds. And I was part of that issue re the IA and Geneva sites.

It also turned out that many of the more popular accessions were already listed in the SSE Yearbooks so lots of money was wasted.

At the Geneva station Craig L and myself got to know the main person there, I forget his name, and he wanted to set up a committee to review what was listed since many of the accessions, actually the majority of them, were outdated lines from breeding programs of years ago that really needed to be deleted/

He invited seveal people to be on that committee including some tomato infectious disease specialists, some breeders, , Kent whealey who was head of SSe at the time, but could not get money from the USDA to make it happen.

So the application process has been greatly tightned and my suggestion for anyone looking for specific tomato accessions to become SSE members so they can look in the YEarbooks and see if what they want is there.

Carolyn. who almost forget to say that , re your comment above about something that could be Acme but had no name, if so, forget it.
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Old July 4, 2015   #32
mike
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Default My Two Cents on the Current Status of Livingston's 'Acme'

Hi All,

As Carolyn has alluded, A. W. Livingston is kind of a personal hero of mine and I have been working to first build, and now keep, his collection of tomato releases available to gardeners for some time now. She also asked me to chime in on what I have learned about this specific variety so here goes . . .

Regarding Michigan State A. E. S. Special Bulletin 290, that is one that I scanned a few years back. Here is a link to page 15 which is has the 'Acme' information:

http://webgrower.com/library/bulleti...n_290%2015.pdf

In searching for old Livingston varieties over the past nearly 20 years, I always have found it strange that ‘Acme’ just up and disappeared. As noted in the link above, it was a popular variety from 1875 to 1930 and then just vanished. Although the author of the bulletin said that it was still offered by a few seedsmen at that time, it was largely replaced by ‘Gulf State Market’, which was a variety that Livingston carried (we have their "strain" available). What we do know is that there is no entry in GRIN, available or historical, for ‘Acme’. Very strange? Not really, I suppose, since many old varieties never made it into their care.

Regarding De Giorgi Bros. ‘Acme’ tomato . . . we offer it because it is a variety in the USDA’s seedbank, a decent tomato, but it is definitely not "The ‘Acme’." The variety is of unknown origin with no available documentation other than what I have written based on actual grow out data. Since what has been grown out from the USDA is red and the original ‘Acme’ from Livingston was pink, it cannot a selection of Livingston’s 'Acme'.

Glenn Drowns does sell a pink fruited 'Acme' but he does not list it as Livingston's. I have emailed him asking for the provenance on his original seed. It is likely that it is the one that has been circulating commercially since the late 1990s.

Back in the late 1990s, there was an offering of 'Acme' in SSE by Joe Cavenaugh from NJ. It grew out wrong. It was very ribbed. Acme's main claim to fame was as a smooth skinned variety (http://www.vintageveggies.com/Living.../1893_Back.jpg). I believe this is the same variety that has been commercially available.

Regarding the use of the words purple, pink, scarlet, crimson, red, etc. in historical tomato descriptions, yes it is a bit confusing in modern terms but all one has to do is to research the origins of the words we all use to describe color. Color in language is a relatively modern “invention” and the conventions have changed a lot over the years.

In our historical tomato description context, purple or crimson = pink and scarlet = red. In the color hue definitions, both crimson and scarlet are “reds” with crimson “inclining towards purple” in the color spectrum and scarlet being a “bright red with a slightly orange tinge.” By these definitions we can understand that the 18th, 19th and early 20th century seedsmen were not colorblind, they just had different definitions for words.

As far as "mining" random pink varieties, or even doing new selections from old varieties attempting to duplicate A. W.'s work to recreate 'Acme', those activities are perfectly fine, but you will not end up with "Acme." You will end up with yet another, medium-sized, smooth-skinned, pink tomato.

So in summary, after close to two decades of searching, I have yet to find a sample of "Livingston's Acme' tomato that (1) grows out to match the historical record and (2) has a credible provenance associated with it. So for now, it remains as I have noted, "presumably extinct."

Let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Mike
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Old July 4, 2015   #33
stevenkh1
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Thank you Carolyn for saving me much time!

It is just absolutely mind boggling that Livingston's Acme tomato which used to be a main market staple around the country and was sold by Livingston from 1875-1940 (and many other seed catalogs) is extinct.

Trophy, Paragon, etc are still around and thriving in many gardens around the country and abroad.

I still have hope that someone, somewhere is still growing it, or a packet of Acme seed is sitting in a grandparents' house or in a museum somewhere.

Speaking of which, when I was at the Greenfield Village a few years ago, I thought I remembered seeing an old display of seeds (packets were full) in that old General Store. I remember starting to say something to my wife but then the kids ran out so I got pulled away and I forgot all about that display til now. I might have to go do another trip and take some pics of those seed packets if they still have them. Ya never know what's in there...
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Old July 4, 2015   #34
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Thank you for taking the time to reply, Mike! Boy...Livingston offered it in their catalogs right up until 1940. It's just incredible to think Acme is gone forever - after 65 years - and not ONE person or seed packet exists??? It sounds impossible.

If I find an Acme packet, I'm going to email you at Victory Seeds because I need either you, Carolyn, or Craig (or all of you) to help bring Acme back to life and grow it out. Deal?
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Old July 4, 2015   #35
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Mike, thanks so much for stopping by and clarifying the situation. I was also glad that we both noted that different words were used for color back then , that MANY varieties have become extinct and the futility of trying to recreate Acme, if you will.

The following was just posted:

(If I find an Acme packet, I'm going to email you at Victory Seeds because I need either you, Carolyn, or Craig (or all of you) to help bring Acme back to life and grow it out. Deal?)

I can't speak for others but definitely N0 deal from me. Do you have any idea whatsoever of what some places will do to increase sales by mislabelling seed packs, on purpose? I do.

Which brings me to the Michigan Bulletin, which I think is superb. Mike I thought somewhere in your above post you said 1938, I thought it was 1939, maybe I got mixed up b'c I was born in 1939, my birthday was a week ago yesterday.

Now you can see how frustrated I was b'c I needed help to find mine and frustrated b'c the info in it is superb. What surprised me at first was the long list of synonyms that were used for ONE variety, but that's b'c back then the seed business was fierce and a company would get seeds for X variety and rename it Y and claim they had an exclusive.

Sometimes the list of synonyms for different varieties was longer than the parameters of the specific variety being described.

I also liked those box charts with listings of similar varieties, Mike would know about that, but I don't think he knows about the following.

A.W. Livingstons father married Mary Graham in Cambridge NY way back when. It's but a 12 min drive, with a tail wind and no cop cars on the road, from where I live to Cambridge. There are many Grahams' in this area and some I know, but they would have no interest in their geneology. Mike, when you were here it's too bad I didn't mention that or you could have made a short pilgrimage to Cambridge, and I don't even know if their Town Historian knows about it.

Lastly, you know from my e-mail that I got no seeds out for trial to anyone for this summer and why, but best to discuss that via e-mail, which I will do.

Thanks again for stopping by and clarifying the Acme situation,

Carolyn
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Old July 4, 2015   #36
stevenkh1
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Happy belated Birthday!!!

Oh yes, I know what some people would do.... its been going on since the 1800s. Even today, I wonder how many of these "Aunt Bee" or "Gramma Walton" heirloom seeds (you get my exageration) are just relabeled varieties from decades ago? As you said before, old seedsmen used to do it all the time in their catalogs.

I antique alot and if I can find an original, full Livingston's Acme seed packet in one these rural antique shops up here and down home in Ohio, I'm gonna need some help growing them out cuz I doubt my usual seed planting method of ProMix and water is going to work. Once in a while I'll run across some old flower seed packets so ya never know.
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Old July 4, 2015   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carolyn137 View Post
...
(If I find an Acme packet, I'm going to email you at Victory Seeds because I need either you, Carolyn, or Craig (or all of you) to help bring Acme back to life and grow it out. Deal?)

I can't speak for others but definitely N0 deal from me. Do you have any idea whatsoever of what some places will do to increase sales by mislabelling seed packs, on purpose? I do.
...
Thanks for taking the time from your busy schedule to briefly express your
opinion Mike.

About Carolyn's response to Steven about a discovering a seed pack of
Acme. I personally would take even a harder line if there were no clear
provenance. You mentioned the last offering was 1940, 75 years ago. It is
simply unrealistic that you'll be germinating such old seed. If you think
someone saved something as primitive as Acme by replanting, 75 years is not
a reasonable amount of time for the viability of a tomato seed. Furthermore,
you are assuming that the variety in 1940 is the same as it was in 1875 (see
Livingston's comments on varieties' running out). Even Brandywine was
considered a real coupe to rediscover after so much time (but less than the
time Acme has been absent).

However, if you find that package, it would be fun to subject it to the skeptics
toolbox and see what it is all about

It is sad no representative of Acme is available from a source that could
provide documentation and expectation of isolation during its propagation in
the intermittent years.

This is not so surprising as much as the luck of the draw, as I've said. Acme
was a very primitive tomato, but that's all it was. Livingston's original smooth
tomatoes were answers to farming needs, as Livingston was a leading
commercial seed supplier of his time. The tomato Stone, which survived in its
present form was chosen for whatever reason from the smooth tomatoes
Livingstone bred to be crossed and bred to get resistances that were
necessary and forthcoming in the 1910's. Acme simply wasn't chosen and
that's where it missed the boat.

Around the time when Acme was discontinued, Rutgers was released and the
trend was toward determinate tomatoes for the market niche previously
served by tomatoes like Acme, so it just slipped through the cracks and no
one in the USDA at that time saved it as far as we know. (and things weren't
so organized back then as today).

If you study the pedigrees you will see Rutgers traces itself back to Stone
of course through a few crosses. It is easy to imagine why Stone would have
been maintained for reference but as far as I know Acme was a sort of
dead-end in the proliferation of varieties, except for Perfection. Perhaps by
1940 it had run out anyway.

I have some other concerns, but they would be better expressed another time
as this post has gotten a bit long and I can't concentrate with the rockets
exploding around me here. Happy Fourth!
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Old July 5, 2015   #38
MrBig46
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In the Czech gene bank have seeds Acme (y.1879) from a donor from Germany (y.1957).
Vladimír
PS.: Description of the tomato I can add
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Old July 5, 2015   #39
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Great Eye Vladimir! That's pretty amazing as the 1879 could only be Livingston. Is it possible to get a specimen from that source for evaluation? Please do add the description!
Cheers!
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Old July 5, 2015   #40
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Great news! I emailed Mike on this because we've both been looking for it. So how do I and Mike go about obtaining seed sample???

Thank you so much in advance!
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Old July 5, 2015   #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrBig46 View Post
In the Czech gene bank have seeds Acme (y.1879) from a donor from Germany (y.1957).
Vladimír
PS.: Description of the tomato I can add
Vladimir, I understand that they were donated to the Czech gene bank in 1957 which makes them about 58 yrs old now. What I don't know, but you might, is how OFTEN the gene bank grows out varieties to keep seed stock viable.

And I ask b'c when one looks at the accessions in the US gene bank, the PC Grin, there are many accessions that are listed, but never grown out b'c they are extinct.

So two kinds of listings, one for accessions still available and other listings for accessions no longer available and the latter comprises the largest majority of listings, I've been there to read, so I know.

Carolyn
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Old July 5, 2015   #42
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Vladimir, I understand that they were donated to the Czech gene bank in 1957 which makes them about 58 yrs old now. What I don't know, but you might, is how OFTEN the gene bank grows out varieties to keep seed stock viable.

And I ask b'c when one looks at the accessions in the US gene bank, the PC Grin, there are many accessions that are listed, but never grown out b'c they are extinct.

So two kinds of listings, one for accessions still available and other listings for accessions no longer available and the latter comprises the largest majority of listings, I've been there to read, so I know.

And also noting that the world record for waking up old seed was when the precursor to the USDA stations was in Cheyenne, WY was closed and all seeds moved to the new USDA station in Ames, IA and in Cheyenne the tomato seeds were stored in filing cabinets at ambient temps and when germination was assessed in IA they were able to wake up seeds, I forgot how many varieties, not many, that were 50 yo. I once had a scientific report about that which was sent to me by someone at the Fort Collins, CO backup USDA storage facility but in all the moves I made somewhere that paper was lost along with some others I also lost.


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Old July 5, 2015   #43
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Czech gene bank is a state organization. Every year, a large part of the fund is sown. Otherwise, it would really saved seeds would be unusable.
If state employees fulfill their duties well and should be germinating seeds Acme there
That could only say someone from a gene bank. Perhaps it would be best if someone who is well-known in the world of tomato (for example Carolyn) request mail about the seeds. There is some hope.
Vladimír
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Old July 5, 2015   #44
stevenkh1
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I know a couple of master gardeners/educators at the Michigan State Extension office...that might be an option as well.

Man oh man...just knowing they are sitting there at the Czech seed bank and the possibility they could be the real deal is making my heart pound with excitement!!! I - like many others - have been looking for Acme for a long time!

I found this one at our seed bank (donated in 1955 from Rhode Island, purple stem, pink fruit) and it's the only one with this description but as Carolyn says, it's not going to be it:

http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs...lay.pl?1180274

Last edited by stevenkh1; July 5, 2015 at 12:11 PM.
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Old July 5, 2015   #45
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Vladimír
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