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Old December 29, 2012   #1
Tania
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Default Older black tomato varieties

I was flipping through the SSE 1986 Yearbook this morning and noticed that there is only 1 black tomato listed - Purple Calabash. It was listed by 7 members, and most said their seeds came from FL ST G in 1984-1985.

Unfortunately I do not have earlier yearbooks to check where FL ST G got his seeds.

Then I checked out the USDA database. Apparently Purple Calabash was donated to USDA in 1963.

Does this make Purple Calabash the oldest known 'black' in North America?

My curiosity was rising, so I asked about black tomatoes at a Russian tomato forum. Got a few very interesting replies - apparently Tsygan tomato was mentioned in a book published in 1968. One member remembers having Black Prince tomato in Russia in the 80s. I am sure I will get more interesting info there in a couple of days.

Looks like black tomatoes were cultivated in the former USSR before it started to happen in the USA... Not many Russian folks remember about having black tomatoes in the 60-80s (me neither), but they were certainly there!

It looks like most of the black varieties came to the USA from France. It also looks like most of the older blacks came from the former USSR - first to France then to NA? I know Carolyn and Craig received lots of seeds from Norbert Parreira in 1992. I'd be curious to know where Norbert was getting them from.
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Old December 29, 2012   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tania View Post
I was flipping through the SSE 1986 Yearbook this morning and noticed that there is only 1 black tomato listed - Purple Calabash. It was listed by 7 members, and most said their seeds came from FL ST G in 1984-1985.

Unfortunately I do not have earlier yearbooks to check where FL ST G got his seeds.

Then I checked out the USDA database. Apparently Purple Calabash was donated to USDA in 1963.

Does this make Purple Calabash the oldest known 'black' in North America?

My curiosity was rising, so I asked about black tomatoes at a Russian tomato forum. Got a few very interesting replies - apparently Tsygan tomato was mentioned in a book published in 1968. One member remembers having Black Prince tomato in Russia in the 80s. I am sure I will get more interesting info there in a couple of days.

Looks like black tomatoes were cultivated in the former USSR before it started to happen in the USA... Not many Russian folks remember about having black tomatoes in the 60-80s (me neither), but they were certainly there!

It looks like most of the black varieties came to the USA from France. It also looks like most of the older blacks came from the former USSR - first to France then to NA? I know Carolyn and Craig received lots of seeds from Norbert Parreira in 1992. I'd be curious to know where Norbert was getting them from.
I always thought the blacks originally came from the Balkans region or possibly as far north as Romania or Ukraine. I didn't realise they came from Russia.

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Old December 29, 2012   #3
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Scott,

Both Russia and Ukraine were part of the former USSR where everything was highly centralized - including seed distribution and sales. So prior to the 90s, it is pretty hard to tell whether a tomato was 'Russian' or 'Ukrainian', unless it was explicitly known where the breeder was located. Seeds from a Russian breeder would have been easily available in Ukraine, and vice versa.

Even now, many Russian gardeners have no problem purchasing seeds from Ukrainian seed vendors, as they all speak Russian. Ukrainian seed catalogs are published in Russian. So even now, I am having hard time to tell the exact origin of a new tomato from the countries from the former USSR.
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Old December 29, 2012   #4
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Tania, I do have all the Yearbooks back to 1975 except for the 1982 one b'c Craig LeHoullier ( he has them too) and I had offered to correct as much wrong info in the tomato section as we could. But it never happened b'c at the Board meeting where it was to be discussed Kent announced that he and Diane were getting divorced and the agenda changed ASAP.

Pre 1986 the tomatoes were not listed by color, rather by state and within a state in order of their SSE code so I HATE trying to find anything.

But when I have time, which is not now, I'll take a look.

Gary Staley, referred to above, was a great gentleman, I didn't even check to see if he's still listing so I shouldn't say was, but it was he who got lots of great varieties from Prof Klaprott, who had a private collection in Germany and listed all of them.

If you look at the True Black Brandywine thread in this FORUM you'll see that there's evidence of some so called black varieties that go back to the mid 1800's as I recall and not necessarily from the former USSR andadjoining areas.

Mutations can happen anytime and anywhere and have done so.

Another issue is that some so called blacks were not listed in the other color section which only started with that 1986 one. And w0rds for different colors are not the same as we might use now, if you look at thatBlack Brandywine thread.

To be honest I'm still trying to drag info from a few folks about new varieties I hope to list in my upcoming seed offer, which is not easy, as well as spending a lot of energy trying to avoid this credit fraud issue I mustg deal with butmust do it soon, or else.

Carolyn
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Old December 29, 2012   #5
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Yes, I noticed that there were no blacks listed in 'Other color' section, and I had to read the entire Purple-Pink section to find Purple Calabash.

Thank you for the tip, Carolyn, I will go and try to find the thread - I vaguely remember seeing it a while ago somewhere...
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Old December 29, 2012   #6
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The earliest mention I have seen of a tomato that would fit the description of what we have today is of a variety from the Philippines about 100 years ago.

There are 5 separate mutations to the same gene that result in black tomatoes. It disables conversion of chlorophyll into the biochemical precursors of lycopene. The end result is that there are 5 separate mutations, but only one phenotype. All varieties that exhibit the same mutation can be presumed to be directly related genetically.

http://link.springer.com/article/10..../fulltext.html

Notice that Black Plum is unique in this list. It is very probable that it represents a recent mutation. If you look at the group with Russian derived names, you will see that they cluster together which seems to indicate a single common point of origin.

Ananas Noire gf
Black Crimson gf
Black Zebra gf
Carbon gf
Cherokee Chocolate gf
Cherokee Purple gf
Green flesh (LA3534) gf
Indische Fleish gf
Schwarze Sarah gf

Black Plum gf 2

Black Brandywine gf 3
Black Ethiopian gf 3
Black From Tula gf 3
Black Krim gf 3
Black Pear gf 3
Black Seaman gf 3
Chocolate Stripes gf 3
Indian Dark Violet Beefsteak gf 3
Japanese Black Trifele gf 3
Paul Robeson gf 3
Purple Passion gf 3

Black Cherry gf 4
Purple Calabash gf 4
Purple Prince gf 4

Black Prince gf 5
Nyagous gf 5
Purple Russian gf 5

DarJones

Last edited by Fusion_power; December 29, 2012 at 08:26 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old December 29, 2012   #7
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http://tomatoville.com/showthread.php?t=7749http://tomatoville.com/showthread.php?t=7749

Tania, above should be the link to the True Brandywine thread, after I post I'll check it to make sure.

And you'll find the phillipine ones that Darrel mentioned, actually there are more than one, and also look at the Figi, aka Fegee ones as well

Carolyn, and ignore the underlines in this post, it just happened.

Edited to add that I don't why the link repeated itself, clicking on the first one does bring up the right link.
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Old December 29, 2012   #8
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This is a subject that I have researched over the last couple of years and I have found no documented evidence for "black" tomatoes in North America (or England) before the 1950's. The earliest description of gf, the gene responsible for dark tomatoes is by E.A. Kerr in the 1956 report of the Tomato Genetics Cooperative:
Quote:
Kerr, E.A. Green flesh, gf

The fruit of a late-blight resistant tomato obtained
from the Central Experimental Farm, Ottawa, as Philippine #2 is much fasciated
and, when ripe, is a dirty purplish brown color. This ripe fruit color is
recessive in the F1 and gives monogenic F2 segregation ratios. The fruit
color is caused by a failure of the chlorophyll to break down when the
lycopene is formed... Hence both chlorophyll and lycopene are present in the
mature fruit. Since r r fruits do not form lycopene, fruits of r r gf gf
genotype have a green-color when mature. Preliminary tests indicate that
gf may be linked with al in group VI and also with the type of fasciation
found in Philippine #2-:-
From: http://tgc.ifas.ufl.edu/vol6/vol6.pdf (Warning: slow loading pdf file.)

The research in the article Dar linked is what sparked my original interest in this topic. There are five different alleles of gf so the "black" phenotype originated independantly on five unique occasions, possibly in different parts of the world. If you look at the list of cultivars by allele it seems that gf2, gf3 and gf5 can be classed as alleles derived from Russian cultivars, while gf(1) is in American and West European cultivars that can be associated with the Philippine #2 origin, and gf4 is a mixed bag as far as place of origin is concerned.

So where did the first "black" tomato occur? The earliest proven and documented record is in 1950's USA from material imported from the Philippines. Any of the other alleles could have originated before or after the one first described, and it is possible that other very similar mutations have occured previously but were not followed up by the grower, and thus died out, because they did not meet his expectation of what a tomato should look like.
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Old December 29, 2012   #9
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It is interesting to remember that green when ripe tomatoes also carry the gf gene, so any documented proof of GWR tomatoes on a certain date would also prove the existence of "black" tomatoes at that time.
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Old December 30, 2012   #10
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wow, awesome info - thank you folks! Very interesting reading.

It is so great to have you all here, sharing your knowledge!

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Old December 30, 2012   #11
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Maf, an interesting search. There might be evidence of green when ripe varieties in some of the seed banks.

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Old December 30, 2012   #12
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http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/l...529042.html?13

I first got interested in the same topic after reading the above thread at GW in 2010 and go to the post on April 21 by Keith M, which is has the same list of gf allele varieties that Darrel posted here. It's worth a read IMO.

The Phillipine ones were not only sent to Canada but also to someone working at the U of Arkansas, I don't know where to find that info now, perhaps in the long thread about True Brandywine, or elsewhere, and at another site there was some conjecture that the Phillipine ones "escaped" from there and were involved somewhere with what we know as Cherokee Purple and by extension Indian Stripe and possibly others. But note in Keith's post that clearly the 100 yo history for Cherokee Purple that John Green gave Craig LeHoullier was not correct.

I think we need to distinguish between North America as ONE of the original sources of the so called blacks as opposed to introduction to NA from elsewhere being involved.

And again I go back to that True Brandywine thread I linked to as to the Phillipine ones and Feejee and the others mentioned there.

And other than the variety known as Black, which was in the SSE Yearbooks many years ago and apparently said to come from Russia via the West Coast of NA when Russians settled in Alaska, who knows what seeds for blacks might have come from various sources overseas due to immigration and never were known to others at the time.

Folks from Russia, Ukraine, etc., immigrated to NA even before 1800 or so and no doubt brought seeds with them, as still happens today when folks migrate from one location to another. I'm thinking of all the wonderful varieties that I got when I was near Albany, NY, from the head of the English Dept at a local HS whose wife was an immigration lawyer. Sandul Moldovan comes tomind ASAP.

I keep saying the so called blacks b'c I do distinguish between what I call pink/blacks, with a clear epidermis such as Cherokee Purple, Indian Stripe, Black from Tula and others, as opposed to what I call red/blacks, with a yellow epidermis, such as Black Krim, Carbon and others.

So did all so called blacks come to NA via immigration from elsewhere and some before Ernie Kerr's 1950 date or did some appear here way before 1950 and were indigenous to NA, either by immigration or mutational events in NA?

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Old December 30, 2012   #13
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I did extensive research in that area a year or two ago. The earliest mention of a black tomato from what I found was Filipino #2. http://doublehelixfarms.com/filipino-number-2 and its sister tomato Nagcarlang

http://doublehelixfarms.com/nagcarlang

After quite a bit of research I began to question the heritage of many of the tomatoes that were being called heirloom. I could not find any documentation to substantiate Cherokee Purple coming from Native Americans. My search actually led me to Fayetteville Arkansas and Dr. Joe McFerran. I had a conversation with him about some of his projects including the ones that he abandoned. One of those projects involved working with the gf gene. Apparently, the University of Arkansas under his direction tested dozens and dozens of varieties during the late 50's through the early 70's. Also from what I found in some of my research is that the main reason for the interest in the gf gene was it's possible link to setting fruit in cool temps. I believe this is why the germplasm ended up so heavily in the U.S.S.R.

The U of A and Dr. McFerran were interested because of its purported ability to set fruit in high humidity. There were several "black" tomatoes created by Dr. McFerran but they never went into production because of poor testing to consumers. It had nothing to do with production or taste. Farmers could not get anyone to buy a tomato that looked like that. Dr. McFerran said they had some test varieties he bred that were outstanding but it was impossible to overcome the look of being "spoiled" and the project was dropped. Dr. McFerran went on to introduce Traveler (Arkansas Traveler), Ozark Pink, AR7985 and Traveler '76. There is also a tomato called Pope, which he was one of the breeders for too.

He also told me he had a cocktail tomato that was pink, sweet and crack resistant. It went to California and into commercial production sometime in the 70's. He could not remember what the name was if any. He only knew it by a test number and could not remember that number either. I have had no luck trying to track it down but is one of my pet projects. The reason I want to find it is that he bred tomatoes to be sold as "vine ripe" and not shippers. This is not a common persuit with most Universtity breeding programs. All of his tomatoes taste pretty good and have some excellent qualities.

Another interesting note about black tomatoes and Dr. McFerran is that he did not recall if his introducing the gf gene into his breeding work came from Filipino #2. It did not ring a bell with him at least.

It is my opinion, and just an opinion, that Cherokee Purple and many other "heirloom black tomatoes" were just escapees from the U of A testing grow outs in the same way as the O.S.U. Black tomato was introduced. I don’t think it really matters whether it came from Arkansas, Russia or is its own mutation and was saved by Cherokees. I am just glad it made its way to Craig and got introduced to the world. I personally find it hard to believe that a tomato as good as Cherokee Purple could have remained a secrete for a century or more. I think it has only been around since about the 1960's or even later and the story was concocted since I don’t believe that the gf gene was present within breeding stock prior to the 1950’s.


It is interesting to note that at one time Arkansas was a very large producer of tomatoes and the state was known for their "Pink" tomato. Most of the pink tomatoes that came out of the state were Dr. McFerran's creation "Bradley". It was a snowy February day in 2011 when I last talked to Dr. McFerran. You would not believe how excited he got when you brought up breeding tomatoes. It was during my last conversation with him that he revealed that the Bradley tomato was not named after the big tomato producing county in Arkansas that shared the name, but was in fact named for his Father. He passed away later that year at the age of 94. He was a very nice man.
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Old January 9, 2013   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doublehelix View Post
I did extensive research in that area a year or two ago. The earliest mention of a black tomato from what I found was Filipino #2. http://doublehelixfarms.com/filipino-number-2 and its sister tomato Nagcarlang

http://doublehelixfarms.com/nagcarlang

After quite a bit of research I began to question the heritage of many of the tomatoes that were being called heirloom. I could not find any documentation to substantiate Cherokee Purple coming from Native Americans. My search actually led me to Fayetteville Arkansas and Dr. Joe McFerran. I had a conversation with him about some of his projects including the ones that he abandoned. One of those projects involved working with the gf gene. Apparently, the University of Arkansas under his direction tested dozens and dozens of varieties during the late 50's through the early 70's. Also from what I found in some of my research is that the main reason for the interest in the gf gene was it's possible link to setting fruit in cool temps. I believe this is why the germplasm ended up so heavily in the U.S.S.R.

The U of A and Dr. McFerran were interested because of its purported ability to set fruit in high humidity. There were several "black" tomatoes created by Dr. McFerran but they never went into production because of poor testing to consumers. It had nothing to do with production or taste. Farmers could not get anyone to buy a tomato that looked like that. Dr. McFerran said they had some test varieties he bred that were outstanding but it was impossible to overcome the look of being "spoiled" and the project was dropped. Dr. McFerran went on to introduce Traveler (Arkansas Traveler), Ozark Pink, AR7985 and Traveler '76. There is also a tomato called Pope, which he was one of the breeders for too.

He also told me he had a cocktail tomato that was pink, sweet and crack resistant. It went to California and into commercial production sometime in the 70's. He could not remember what the name was if any. He only knew it by a test number and could not remember that number either. I have had no luck trying to track it down but is one of my pet projects. The reason I want to find it is that he bred tomatoes to be sold as "vine ripe" and not shippers. This is not a common persuit with most Universtity breeding programs. All of his tomatoes taste pretty good and have some excellent qualities.

Another interesting note about black tomatoes and Dr. McFerran is that he did not recall if his introducing the gf gene into his breeding work came from Filipino #2. It did not ring a bell with him at least.

It is my opinion, and just an opinion, that Cherokee Purple and many other "heirloom black tomatoes" were just escapees from the U of A testing grow outs in the same way as the O.S.U. Black tomato was introduced. I don’t think it really matters whether it came from Arkansas, Russia or is its own mutation and was saved by Cherokees. I am just glad it made its way to Craig and got introduced to the world. I personally find it hard to believe that a tomato as good as Cherokee Purple could have remained a secrete for a century or more. I think it has only been around since about the 1960's or even later and the story was concocted since I don’t believe that the gf gene was present within breeding stock prior to the 1950’s.


It is interesting to note that at one time Arkansas was a very large producer of tomatoes and the state was known for their "Pink" tomato. Most of the pink tomatoes that came out of the state were Dr. McFerran's creation "Bradley". It was a snowy February day in 2011 when I last talked to Dr. McFerran. You would not believe how excited he got when you brought up breeding tomatoes. It was during my last conversation with him that he revealed that the Bradley tomato was not named after the big tomato producing county in Arkansas that shared the name, but was in fact named for his Father. He passed away later that year at the age of 94. He was a very nice man.
Wow, great info. It makes sense because two of the most productive tomatoes for me during the very hot and humid summers here in south Alabama are Indian Stripe and Cherokee Purple. I always thought all of the blacks came from Russia and wondered why some of them did so much better than most other tomatoes in the heat and high humidity of the deep south. The Philippine connection sure sounds reasonable. That may be why some of the blacks do so much better than other blacks down here.
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Old December 30, 2012   #15
Tania
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Not related to the main topic, but I wanted to note that I grew Black Krim from 3 different sources, including Jeff Fleming who got seeds from Craig, and all these were purple black (clear epidermis) and not brown black. I keep thinking about saying this every time I see Carolyn mentioning Black Krim, but always forget

Steve, this is a very interesting insight, and your thoughts make lots of sense to me.

I think it is possible that immigrants could have brought lots of seeds with them, but far less likely a black-fruited tomato would have been there - at least not intentionally, as the expectations back then were for red or pink fruits. I am sure mutations involving gf were seen a lot time ago, but as maf mentioned above, they would have been likely discarded not meeting the expectations.

Of course I have no scientific proof, but I find it to be a very likely scenario.

Lots of pinks and reds and yellow tomatoes were documented back to the 19th century, but no blacks.

And thank you so much for bringing an interesting piece of history about Bradley - I have heard about it before, but it is great to have a confirmation! I love this tomato, I think it deserves much better recognition, even just for its taste.
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