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Old February 2, 2013   #1
doublehelix
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Default Hybrid is as Hybrid does

I grow several hybrids. Hybrids like Sungold, Better Boy, Big Beef, Mountain Magic and Jetstar and others all have things worth paying for. That is what keeps me coming back year after year to buy the seeds. A lot of thought and work goes into creating a hybrid worthy for the tomato market. The parents in a commercial hybrid cross will consistently produce the desired results. The seed is predictable and always what the customer expects to get. However, I would not give you a nickel for a bucketful of the saved seed from any of them.

As many of you know, when you try to re-grow hybrid seeds you mostly end up with something that is nothing like the parent and quite often is unfit for human consumption. I cannot imagine wanting to buy second or third generation seeds from one of these well-known hybrids.

So, why would anyone pay for someone’s second or third generation of seeds from a hybrid that was unproven? If leftover seeds from Sungold are junk, isn’t it likely that seed from some amateurs crossing project is going to be a wasted spot in your garden?

If you let a hybrid tomato self-pollinate, then every generation the number of mixed or non-pure (you could still call them hybrid) tomatoes will diminish by 50%. So if the first generation is 100% hybrid, the next generation, or F2 has 50% hybrids mixed in, the next generation will have 25% and the next 12.5% etc. These are not hybrids that are consistent and predictable. These are just random plants that will most likely be undesirable. F2 or even F5 seeds are still hybrid seeds. I am in a state of disbelief at the number of companies jumping into this game. There is even one company calling a tomato a “Blend”. That is how someone who has made a career bad mouthing hybrid seeds, sells hybrid seeds.

Even seeds that are six generations away from the initial cross will have about 30 seeds out of every 1000 that are still hybrid. So if they are selling 30 seeds in a pack and 250 people purchase a pack of seeds what we are going to see is about 230 tomatoes that do not match the description. These 230 tomato plants are more than likely just junk. What will happen to these 230 tomatoes? They will be declared “new” or “mutations”. They will be named, passed around, and they too will be unstable and produce even more false assumptions and renaming.

There is going to be a glut of crappy named varieties hit this hobby in the next five years like the world has never seen. Not only that, but there will be hundreds of growth habits, shapes, sizes, and colors of tomatoes all with the SAME name. Also, there will be hundreds of tomatoes that are nearly IDENTICAL that will have DIFFERENT names too. This can’t be good for this hobby. The world does not need 10,000 new mediocre tomatoes.

What is the motivation for doing this?

I find it hard to believe seed vendors are selling unstable hybrids, and billing them as open pollinated.

When the seeds from Tomatoville’s Dwarf project were stolen, there was an interesting quote.
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What I see is a world where there is far too much apathy and personal laziness - people very happy to piggy back on or take other folks' hard work just to make a buck.
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Old February 2, 2013   #2
carolyn137
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Well done Steve.

What also bothers me is that the most of the persons buying these unstable hybrids don't really know what you posted above, may just put out one plant and think they have what they should have, which in reality is wrong b'c a responsible hybridizer will put out maybe 20 or so plants in just one season for a particular cross, making selections, sometimes many selections, and treating each of those lines separately. And doing it all over again for each of those selections.

When he or she makes some final decisions as to which selections are close to what the hybridizer is looking for that looks good, or even what's not being looked for that looks good and tastes good, then they have to be grown out for the generations you noted above until stable.

Which is why in my list of experiemental ones in my current seed offer, now closed, I spoke to that issue directly, for the three that I listed.All are works in progress as I see it.

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Old February 2, 2013   #3
Boutique Tomatoes
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Well said. If they're going to sell unstable lines they should at least let people know what they are. I personally like the opportunity to get early access to some interesting lines, but I know what I am getting into with them.

Unfortunately without full disclosure, as you said a large number of gardeners may plant out one plant of a F3 or F4 line and all carry a different version forward if they are seed savers, resulting in mass confusion a few years from now.
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Old February 2, 2013   #4
frogsleap farm
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I'm afraid this trend of marketing unfinished lines will undermine credibility of what I believe may become a robust and interesting collection of small seed companies focusing on the tomato home gardner niche. We can/should do as good a job on product/seed quality as the big boys.
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Old February 2, 2013   #5
Mischka
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Here's a perfect example where a recent cross is being sold as a stable OP variety - and to make matters worse, one of the parents has mysteriously changed from Anna Russian to Prue. (!)

"throws hearts and pastes"
Does this statement absolve the seller of selling something unstable to unsuspecting customers?

No. Absolutely not.

I know that I would not want to waste an entire tomato growing season, just to find out the hard way that I'm growing a bunch of genetically unstable garbage.
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Old February 2, 2013   #6
Sun City Linda
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I know my antenna went up when I saw threads being hijacked by new, super duper tomatoes I had never heard of. Most seem to have a common source of purchase. I have seen postings on other sites that are incredibly blatant commercials for these "unique" creations.

I don't actually grow a lot of hybrids, but like the OP, I appreciate knowing exactly what I will be getting.
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Old February 2, 2013   #7
Boutique Tomatoes
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I think there are a couple of different mentalities at work.

Some people just don't understand that for the average gardener who might put out 6 tomato plants an off type is going to be upsetting.

That's a risk we all take though as there is always a chance of a crossed seed, I know I have gotten them from large vendors as well as small. But it's different if someone is selling something they know is going to segregate into X different phenotypes.

Others are rushing things to market to be first or exclusive. The same mentality that causes some to rename varieties so they can be the only ones with the uber rare version. It takes years to stabilize a cross and if money is your end goal in breeding then those last 3-4 years to fine tune things appear to be tempting to skip.

It's unfortunate but I think it's going to get a bit worse before it gets any better.
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Old February 2, 2013   #8
Sun City Linda
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It makes me angry because some few are merchandising others. I guess if you have your own seed selling site and you want to make hype there, it is your business." Let the buyer beware" will eventually define your business. But to come on community forums and direct others to your site because you have some fake "exclusive" is taking advantage of the gardening community and seems in especially poor taste.
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Old February 2, 2013   #9
roper2008
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Are they married?
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Old February 3, 2013   #10
b54red
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doublehelix, I have grown out a few hybrid seed form tomatoes and find the results a mess; but with some hybrid bell pepper seed I have seen very little difference between the hybrid and the grow outs from the seed. When I first grew out a few hybrid pepper seed about 10 years ago I was expecting the kind of crazy variety that I got from tomatoes. What I got were similar plants with similar fruit and characteristics so I kept growing a few every year and still am getting the same kind of results. Every once in a while one will turn out to be a plant that produces markedly smaller fruit but that has been the rare exception. I have been quite surprised by these results. I am no scientist and don't understand the genetics behind hybridization but it would seem to me that the parents must be very similar to the resulting hybrid for this to be the case.
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Old February 3, 2013   #11
bower
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frogsleap farm View Post
I'm afraid this trend of marketing unfinished lines will undermine credibility of what I believe may become a robust and interesting collection of small seed companies focusing on the tomato home gardner niche. We can/should do as good a job on product/seed quality as the big boys.
Well, I can't pretend to have seen all the promotional material being discussed here, but I don't think there is really any risk of undermining the extraordinary products which are coming from serious breeders like yourself.

I had a look at this page, and it seems to me that the 'unfinished lines' are being marketed to a different market segment, not the gourmet market which you serious breeders are catering to. This seed seller is clearly targeting a 'sentimentality' niche market ("my own tomato"), as well as selling the experience of selection in a very scaled down way, to home gardeners who are not breeders but want a small taste of that experience. If the results are 'genetically unstable crap' as is anticipated, well that is the kind of taste of the experience that they'll get. I would expect that experience to foster a deeper awareness and appreciation for the work that goes into the awesome, stable lines that are being produced by professionals like yourselves, and ultimately benefit your business.

For the smaller percentage of customers that actually continue the growout to stabilize and name their own variety, yes, it may result in circulation of some mediocre named varieties that only a mother could love, but I doubt that many will end up on the market. If so, I wouldn't expect them to last long in the face of competition with really excellent varieties that have been produced and stabilized with due care.

Yes, we could end up with some very similar (or the same) varieties which have unique names. As long as the parentage is acknowledged, their sibling status will be obvious enough. From a genetic diversity perspective, that is really not a bad thing for the ol tomato genome. Subtle traits, such as tolerance of the different pest/disease profile or climate/soil conditions in specific locations, may end up represented in the 'sibling seed' bank as a result, which would be excluded when the same cross is fully stabilized for optimal performance in one breeder's location. So there is a possible up side to the development of this 'amateur breeder' market.

Sorry to play devil's advocate, but I'm not convinced that this is a bad thing (in itself) but, like most things, it can certainly be negative if there is misrepresentation involved.
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Old February 3, 2013   #12
Fred Hempel
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I have two thoughts:

1. The cream rises to the top.

2. Different strokes for different folks.

I do also agree that the page linked by bower, and Tom Wagner's "unfinished" lines do have an appreciative audience, and when clearly labeled as segregating lines they may be useful for breeders and some passionate growers.
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Old February 3, 2013   #13
frogsleap farm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred Hempel View Post
I have two thoughts:

1. The cream rises to the top.

2. Different strokes for different folks.

I do also agree that the page linked by bower, and Tom Wagner's "unfinished" lines do have an appreciative audience, and when clearly labeled as segregating lines they may be useful for breeders and some passionate growers.
Points well taken. Market niches are a good thing, and to the extent the lines are adequately described - no harm done to the seed customer. I hope the naming confusion passes quickly - but I am less confident of that.
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Old February 3, 2013   #14
Boutique Tomatoes
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The ones in the link bower posted are clearly marked, and I don't think those are an issue.

I like a lot of Tom's varieties, they've certainly perked my interest in breeding tomatoes, I figure I've gotten a little practice making selections and I've gotten some interesting genetics that would likely have taken me several years to develop on my own. But if you don't know how he works it's not evident from the variety descriptions; we had a few members here get surprised with their results last year.

I worry that as some of the work on 'boutique' breeding programs becomes more widely known it may get a black eye when unknowing gardeners buy unstable lines. When they get unexpected results those potential customers for this market may be lost forever.
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Old February 3, 2013   #15
carolyn137
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bower View Post
Well, I can't pretend to have seen all the promotional material being discussed here, but I don't think there is really any risk of undermining the extraordinary products which are coming from serious breeders like yourself.

I had a look at this page, and it seems to me that the 'unfinished lines' are being marketed to a different market segment, not the gourmet market which you serious breeders are catering to. This seed seller is clearly targeting a 'sentimentality' niche market ("my own tomato"), as well as selling the experience of selection in a very scaled down way, to home gardeners who are not breeders but want a small taste of that experience. If the results are 'genetically unstable crap' as is anticipated, well that is the kind of taste of the experience that they'll get. I would expect that experience to foster a deeper awareness and appreciation for the work that goes into the awesome, stable lines that are being produced by professionals like yourselves, and ultimately benefit your business.

For the smaller percentage of customers that actually continue the growout to stabilize and name their own variety, yes, it may result in circulation of some mediocre named varieties that only a mother could love, but I doubt that many will end up on the market. If so, I wouldn't expect them to last long in the face of competition with really excellent varieties that have been produced and stabilized with due care.

Yes, we could end up with some very similar (or the same) varieties which have unique names. As long as the parentage is acknowledged, their sibling status will be obvious enough. From a genetic diversity perspective, that is really not a bad thing for the ol tomato genome. Subtle traits, such as tolerance of the different pest/disease profile or climate/soil conditions in specific locations, may end up represented in the 'sibling seed' bank as a result, which would be excluded when the same cross is fully stabilized for optimal performance in one breeder's location. So there is a possible up side to the development of this 'amateur breeder' market.

Sorry to play devil's advocate, but I'm not convinced that this is a bad thing (in itself) but, like most things, it can certainly be negative if there is misrepresentation involved.
Bower, you linked to Bill Jeffers crosses and I've know Bill for many many years. He's a talented not so amateur breeder and does it as a sideline and has an excellent full time job elsewhere.

Bill explains what do with his offerings, as in making selections, etc., as I recall, I didn't read the whole page b'c I've got to pack more tomato seeds and ge tthem out for my seed offer, and Bill also gives the full parentage so that if folks want to look those up and see what they are they can do so. Agreed that most probably won't have enough grasp of tomato genetics to predict what might ensue, but for those interested and have enough room to do the growouts, I think it's great.

I have three crosses in the Experimental Section of my seed offer and warn about having enough room to do growouts,etc. , but I know from past experiences that many do and some only put out one plant.

Bill was the one who did the NAR X Brandywine which ultimately becameDixiewine which I haven't grown yet but have the seeds and may do so this summer. Since I introduced NAR and at one time liked Brandywine I asked Bill for some F2 seeds and he sent them ASAP but I only did one growout and didn't pursue it since I was at my new place and didn't have the acreage that I used to have.

I admire what Bill has done, and what varieties he's working on now, and feel that he's being honest and straightout, no misrepresentation, with his offerings, as some aren't, as to parentage and unstable lines being offered.

Just my opinion having known Bill, for what, maybe 15 years at least.

Carolyn, who never has made a deliberate cross, but has dehybridized a few varieties to stability, and has had some amusing results appear, viz., three plants of Cherokee Green put out for seed stock and two had pure white lousy tasting fruits, and then the two somatic mutations that appeared,now those were fun.
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