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Historical background information for varieties handed down from bygone days.

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Old November 11, 2018   #1
oldman
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Default USDA legacy tomato seed

I apologize if this is general discussion, but it seemed to fit better here.

I've been reading the pages of the USDA seed library. The process for requesting seed seems pretty straight forward. Has anyone tried it recently who can share their experiences?

What I'd like to try is asking for four differ ascension numbers and sharing seed with other growers. A project similar to the Dwarf project or the Karma Pink effort., except instead of creating new OP stock we'd be rescuing (or trying to rescue) legacy tomatoes. And instead of picking new names we'd be researching to figure out what we had.

Is there anyone else out there who wants to make rescuing a tomato from possible oblivion a New Year's resolution?
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Old November 12, 2018   #2
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An old thread discussing the USDA seeds.

'Persay'.
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Old November 12, 2018   #3
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Not a can of worms worth reopening. Thanks for the pointer. I had known of the work on the Livingstons but hadn't been aware of the zman saga and its fallout.
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Old April 23, 2019   #4
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I have ordered from USDA/GRIN within the last few years. I breed tomatoes and have only sold the seeds from the plants I have grown and we are talking about 15 packs of seeds in the entire time I had a Google store.

I don't see any ethical problem with the general public accessing these seeds so long as you have an interest in breeding them.

That said, I think the many, many of these seeds are not exactly stable. I suspect that many accessions from overseas were landraces to begin with and I also think that there has probably been a fair amount of accidental cross pollinations within GRIN. My basis for saying this is the difference between the descriptions in the GRIN catalog and what I have grown from the seed provided as well as variations within the plants that I have grown out.

My blog has several GRIN varieties that I am happy to share for a SASE.
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Old April 23, 2019   #5
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I am working from the assumption that GRIN variétés are actually more true to type (especially when they've held an accession for decades). Many home growers grow multiple varieties and, even more problematicly, usually save seed from a single plant, sometimes a single fruit.

So I'm growing varieties from several sources and comparing them to named USDA sourced varieties.
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Old April 23, 2019   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldman View Post
I am working from the assumption that GRIN variétés are actually more true to type (especially when they've held an accession for decades). Many home growers grow multiple varieties and, even more problematicly, usually save seed from a single plant, sometimes a single fruit. I think this bottlenecks the genes.

So I'm growing varieties from several sources and comparing them to named USDA sourced varieties to see what true to type means.
Okay that wasn't quite what I intended, but the edits are there.
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Old April 25, 2019   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldman View Post
I am working from the assumption that GRIN variétés are actually more true to type (especially when they've held an accession for decades). Many home growers grow multiple varieties and, even more problematicly, usually save seed from a single plant, sometimes a single fruit.

So I'm growing varieties from several sources and comparing them to named USDA sourced varieties.
20-30% of the USDA seeds I have grown have significant differences than their descriptions in the catalog.
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Old April 28, 2019   #8
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By that do you mean if you're grown something like Hillbilly Potato Leaf from GRIN it's not the Hillbilly Potato leaf you're used to or that it's nothing like what GRIN's description of it was? I'm not sure what 'the catalog' means in your post.

Last edited by oldman; April 28, 2019 at 10:11 PM.
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Old May 3, 2019   #9
Solanum315
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldman View Post
By that do you mean if you're grown something like Hillbilly Potato Leaf from GRIN it's not the Hillbilly Potato leaf you're used to or that it's nothing like what GRIN's description of it was? I'm not sure what 'the catalog' means in your post.
Sorry, not a catalog per se, I meant the database.

https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/search.aspx

And by differences I mean that the plants that I grew did not match the decriptions in the database or sometimes the pictures in the database.
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Old June 18, 2019   #10
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There are issues with (some? many? no way to know for sure) with the USDA seed collection. I got a few hundred of the tomato accessions out over the years, and some were a mess. Mikado (a historic tomato, Henderson seed company late 1800s) gave regular and potato leaf red and pink (all combinations) with various fruit sizes. Matchless (historic Burpee variety) seems mixed with another Burpee variety, Quarter Century. This year I am growing Peak of Perfection (Salzer, 1920s) and it is not correct (fruit size far too small).

It certainly is worthwhile and interesting to sample the collection and save and share seeds - but comparing what you get to old catalogs is either confirming that it is the same or similar to the release, or very different. It is also complicated by the changing ways seed companies described things like color and fruit size over the years.
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Old June 23, 2019   #11
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Originally Posted by nctomatoman View Post
There are issues with (some? many? no way to know for sure) with the USDA seed collection. I got a few hundred of the tomato accessions out over the years, and some were a mess. Mikado (a historic tomato, Henderson seed company late 1800s) gave regular and potato leaf red and pink (all combinations) with various fruit sizes. Matchless (historic Burpee variety) seems mixed with another Burpee variety, Quarter Century. This year I am growing Peak of Perfection (Salzer, 1920s) and it is not correct (fruit size far too small).

It certainly is worthwhile and interesting to sample the collection and save and share seeds - but comparing what you get to old catalogs is either confirming that it is the same or similar to the release, or very different. It is also complicated by the changing ways seed companies described things like color and fruit size over the years.
Having first hand experience with the federal government, the best assumption is too often lack of funding and sloppy work. My hypothesis is that a lot of acquisitions were landraces coupled with poor plant segregation in their growouts...
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