Involvement in Breeder’s Grow Outs
In 2018 I participated in two separate grow outs: Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa, and Dwarf Tomato Project with Craig Lehoullier from North Carolina.
In order to participate in the Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) you need to be a member. Depending on your choice of membership, it will cost approximately $25 for an individual internet membership which gives you member discounts throughout the year. It also allows one to participate in two separate specific grow outs: RENEW or ADAPT. The RENEW program requires tomatoes be isolated 100 feet, grow 12 plants and harvest all fruit from the plants and save and return 700 seeds. This may or may not be feasible for some smaller home growers (isolation requirements).
The ADAPT program requires growing three tomato plants – not all necessarily in the same yard – evaluating for taste, recording observations and answering a survey at the end of the growing season. Members of SSE were also given the option of getting four free seeds varieties to try out and requests a survey at the end of the year. Rose Hill Pink Plum was the tomato members tested.
Craig’s Dwarf Tomato Project (DTP) which has produced 100 dwarf varieties over the years, involved requesting seed before a certain cut-off date, growing out as many plants as possible, taking observations and returning seeds, notes and photos at the end of the growing season.
Before and after
For the SSE ADAPT (German Extreme Dwarf Bush and Large Yellow) and member grow out (Rose Hill Pink Plum) I grew out the required numbers of plants. The season was hard for most home growers across the country in 2018 and I experienced trouble with disease but was able to fill out the surveys. Both tomatoes of the ADAPT tomatoes even with the disease were good. German Extreme Dwarf Bush was prolific and kept pumping out tomatoes. Large Yellow had a nice flavor and was juicy, beautiful yellow. Rose Hill Pink Plum grew over six feet tall, but I preferred other cherry/ plums.
For DTP grow out I grew out six of each from two separate families “Beauty” and “Teensy.” Beauty family had beautiful stripes and seemed relatively consistent with a couple having different epidermis. Teensy provided cherries and were mainly purples, either ruffled or cherry, and one plant was a yellow! Teensy was the first in the summer and last in the fall. It was exciting seeing how they would turn out. During the season I took advice, shared pictures, and at the end saved and returned seed labeled by plant number including a description of the fruit and gave personal opinions about the plants.
If you are able to get in on a grow out, it provides valuable insight into how the tomatoes do and if the tomatoes are worth continuing. For the DTP, for example, one cross can make hundreds of different possible plants, but although pretty they may not taste well, or perform well and may not be worth continuing. All information on growth, productivity, taste, if it gives a good amount of seed, is extremely valuable to breeders and researchers.