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Old November 4, 2011   #1
wpmoorej
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Default Starting 25+ year old 'Walter' Seed

Hello all!

My name is Bill, and I am new to this forum. I have recently acquired about 15,000 original 'Walter' tomato seeds. These seeds are old, and I am interested in starting some. I have not had any luck with this project yet, but have only tried germinating on paper in a bag, and in potting mix. I have read on Gardenweb, and this forum that there is a lady named Carolyn, who is interested in waking up old seed. If anyone is interested in helping, or can put me in touch with someone who would be (Carolyn perhaps), I will gladly take advice and/or mail you some seed to try. All I need is one plant that produces fruit with new seed!

Thanks in advance,

Bill
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Old November 4, 2011   #2
Mischka
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Welcome to the forums, Bill.

I'm confident that the lady named Carolyn will along shortly to answer you directly.
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Old November 4, 2011   #3
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Hi, and welcome. As Mischka said, I'm sure Carolyn will be along shortly.

If you are just interested in the variety, you can purchase newer seed here:

http://heirloomtomatoes.net/

Of course, if you're interested in these "original" seeds specifically, that won't be any help to you.
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Old November 4, 2011   #4
wpmoorej
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These seeds were obtained from the breeder's grandchildren, so I am interested in getting these specific seeds germinated, but I do appreciate the link to heirloomtomatoes.net. Mischka, good of you to say hello!
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Old November 4, 2011   #5
carolyn137
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Bill, I'm the Carolyn you're referring to but a few questions first.

Seeds for Walter are not hard to find, some places better than others, or is it important for you to try and wake up the seed you have?

Where did you get that many Walter Seeds and what is the seed age, just curious about that.

Walter was bred at the U of Florida at the same time as the variety Tropic and that was done many years ago, I forget the date, whoops, I have it right here, it was bred and released in 1969.

Depending on the age of seed you have, there are limitations on that, and if it's important to you to try and wake up some of the seeds you already have, I'd be glad to help.
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Old November 4, 2011   #6
wpmoorej
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Hi Carolyn, Thank you for your quick response.

I feel it is important to try and wake the seeds that I have. My boss obtained the seeds from the breeder's grandchild(ren). He was told that they are the remaining "original" 'Walter' seeds. It would be nice to use these seeds, unless you feel that the 'Walter' seeds out there would definitely produce the same Walter as the seeds I have on hand.

I am told that the seeds are from the 1970's or 1980's, but am unsure as to the exact age.

Thanks, Bill
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Old November 4, 2011   #7
Fusion_power
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Walter (1544, STEP 535) - Breeder and vendor: University of Florida. Characteristics: fresh market, determinate, midseason, fruit are medium-slightly large, flat-round, symmetrical. Resistance: fusarium wilt races 1 and 2, gray leaf spot. Adaptation: Florida, southeastern United States. Fla. Agric. Expt. Sta. Circ. S-202. 1969.

If the seed are dead, no amount of trying will get them to germinate.

You can dig around on a few of the tomato forums and find where posts were made about getting very old seed to germinate. Here are the steps that I have used successfully.

1. The most important and essential item needed is water. The next most important is oxygen. Third most important is nitrate.
2. Prepare a seed start tray with good quality moistened seed start mix such as promix bx.
3. Get some miracle grow or peters or whatever variety available of water soluble fertilizer with a high nitrate content. Mix 1 level teaspoon fertilizer with a quart of water.
4. Saturate a paper towel with the fertilizer water and then let just enough drip out to be thoroughly wet.
5. Loosely wrap a large quantity of seed in the paper towel so that the seed are not clumped up.
6. Place the paper towel in a ziploc bag and drop it in the refrigerator for 16 to 20 hours. The bag MUST contain air, the seed need oxygen!
7. Remove the seed from the paper towel and carefully sow them on top of the seed start mix.
8. Do NOT cover the seed, gather a small amount of the seed start mix and dust it over the seed so that they can still receive light but have a light dusting on top. The seed must be spread out so they are not touching each other, otherwise mold will be a problem.
9. Place the seed start tray in an incubator at 85 degrees for up to 20 days. A chicken egg incubator works fine for this purpose.
10. check daily to see if any green shows and if so, put them in very bright light immediately.

One additional step that can help is to increase the oxygen content in the ziploc bag. I have done this by putting a cup of hydrogen peroxide in a pint jar and then adding a package of yeast. This releases a huge amount of oxygen which you can capture by holding the ziploc bag over the top of the jar.

DarJones
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Old November 4, 2011   #8
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Bill, I was still online elsewhere when you posted the age of your seeds and in the meantime Fusion has done a long post sharing with you how he does it.

Much of what he does I also do but there are aspects that I don't do, less steps, etc. which I could indicate if you wanted me too.

In the meantime you could try Fusion's method.

How interesting that you do have some original seeds, and if from the 70's that 's interesting as well, Probably the early 70's if they were original seeds saved, and interesting b'c the documented record of waking up old seeds is 50 years old and that from seeds that were moved from the USDA precursor station in Cheyenne, WY to the Ames, IA station where germination tests were done.

Your seeds are probably close to 45 or so years old now, but no harm in trying to wake them up. And you certainly have enough seeds to work with

And yes, there are places that do list Walter and would be the same Walter variety, and other places that I would not deal with if you aren't successful.

I can't see much sense in sending seeds to others b'c if they germinate some, and it may take months, as has happened to me in the past, then where to go from there since I'm in NYS, Fusion in AL, if he asks for them, but I don't think he will but Darrel can speak for himself here. And same concern for anyone else who posts here that they would try to germinate them as well.

Darrel, in the 2011 SSE YEarbook there is a listing for Walter, very detailed history given, from a person form AL who says that you reccomended the variety to him or her, I didn't look it up, amd then cited seeds were from CV E and R, and that's not one on the list of commercial sources listed in the back of the YEarbook. What and where is CV E and R?

And were you the source to the SSE lister of seeds or plants? I didn't check your website to see if you list Walter plants/seeds.

I know I'm copping out on the looking here and there for info but right now I just don't think I have the time'b'c if I don't get these SSE YEarbook listings done and sent by the deadline, well, that wouldn't be good at all.
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Old November 4, 2011   #9
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Carolyn, the original poster is in an ideal location if he can get some seed to germinate. Furthermore, this is an excellent time for him to start seed.

Re recommending Walter, I probably did just because it is highly adapted to the South Alabama North Florida general area.

I do not normally grow and sell Walter. I have Tropic and a couple of others that I sell every year. For next year, I will be working on dehybridizing a Tropic from 2011 that threw jumbo size tomatoes. It is obviously from a bee made cross.

DarJones
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Old November 4, 2011   #10
travis
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To Bill: Fusion has given you very good information. You should follow his advice.

I have awakened very old seeds, at least as old as what you have, for old standard red field tomatoes like Walter. I think mine may have been kept under refrigeration before I got them, because I got fair germination in the 50% range.

I've soaked very old seeds overnight in the refrigerator in a diluted black tea solution, and then started them in paper towels inside a ziploc at room temperature.

I've soaked the old seeds very briefly in hydrogen peroxide to soften and thin the seed coat, and then started them in damp paper towels on on wet cotton balls inside ziploc baggies.

The problem with paper towels or cotton balls inside a ziploc baggie is if the seeds take over 7 days to germinate, seems like sometimes the medium mildews before the seeds germinate.

I also have germinated very old seeds by pre-soaking them in weak tea overnight, then transferring them on top of Promix starter mix dampened with a weak solution of high nitrogen Miracle-Gro. Problem with that is if I did not transfer the successful starts to a non-fertilized starter cell before the sprouts were advanced, the resulting seedlings became quite leggy.

When I used bottom heat on a starter mat about 80 degrees F, I got up to 70% germination of seeds that were over 25 years old one time.

In any case, you should try to germinate the seeds if only for the experience and satisfaction of doing it. I'd love to grow Walter myself, and if I had seeds from the original breeder, so much the better. I grow a few more recent varieties that have Walter in their parentage, and they are very good standard field tomatoes in my opinion, and stand up to heat and humidity. Go for it!
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Old November 4, 2011   #11
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Just the information alone on starting old seed might make it worthwhile to make this thread a "Sticky" in the "Starting From Seed" Forum. Ami
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Old November 4, 2011   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amideutch View Post
Just the information alone on starting old seed might make it worthwhile to make this thread a "Sticky" in the "Starting From Seed" Forum. Ami
I second the motion.
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Old November 4, 2011   #13
halleone
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I sure hope you'll keep us posted as to the results.
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Old November 5, 2011   #14
wpmoorej
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Default walter

Thank you everyone for the help and interest in this little project. I will use Fusion's methods and will definitely keep everyone posted on how things are going. Caroyln, if you are interested in trying to wake some of these seeds, I am originally Upstate, NY and have connections with people in the Syracuse and Albany area who would be glad to pick up any seedling(s) from you and grow them out in a GH. People other than Carolyn are also welcome to some seeds if they interest you. Thanks again everyone..be on the lookout for updates. I will begin trying to wake these seeds on Monday.
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Old November 5, 2011   #15
carolyn137
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wpmoorej View Post
Thank you everyone for the help and interest in this little project. I will use Fusion's methods and will definitely keep everyone posted on how things are going. Caroyln, if you are interested in trying to wake some of these seeds, I am originally Upstate, NY and have connections with people in the Syracuse and Albany area who would be glad to pick up any seedling(s) from you and grow them out in a GH. People other than Carolyn are also welcome to some seeds if they interest you. Thanks again everyone..be on the lookout for updates. I will begin trying to wake these seeds on Monday.
With the number of seeds you have I certainly could try. But you should also know that b'c of a fall in Dec of 2004 I now have to use a walker, and the last time I even tried to sow my own seeds was in April of 2005 , which was a disaster trying to do so in terms of trying to move nursery trays, do transplanting, etc., b'c of having to have hands on the walker, but I was determined to do it.Since then someone else has raised all my seedling for me and shipped them to me, except for this past June when Craig, who is the coordinator for the NHemisphere Dwarf Project here at Tville and a long time best friend going back to about 1990, delivered my plants from NC b'c he and his wife Sue had to be in this area for the graduation of Sue's sister's daughter.

I am near the Albany area, actually about an hour away, depending on how one goes and where to, and I too know several commercial folks in the area since I was raised in Loudonville, if you know it, and then lived in Latham, if you know it, but I can only drive a maximum of 20 miles one way now, so haven't been back down there at all in over 6 years.

I think I still have some of my smaller seed pans here as well as some mix, so could give it a go but not until Dec or so.

I'd even offer to drive anything to the Albany area if it weren't for the fact that my car goes into the garage in the next two weeks or so since my ortho surgeon doesn't want me going out over the winter. Add to that my limitation on driving distance and if I were lucky and got some up, someone would have to pick them up.

Just b'c I'm curious, which commercial growers in that area do you know? Maybe we know of the same. Most that I know are first, the Brizzels, two places actually, Charlie just north of Troy and Bridget and Dave near the Albany airport and I forget the name of the other one right now that's also near the Albany airport.

Where in upstate NY are you from? Right now I live in a lovely area between Cambridge and Granville off of rt 22. And there's a thread here that shows my home and area , with pictures, when Craig and Sue delivered my plants this past June ( see above)

But I certainly hope you'll get other volunteers to participate b/c I think they would have two free hands, as I don't, and no doubt a much better working area.

And if this thread does become a sticky I suppose at some time I should outline what I do as well in terms of old seeds. I can say that to date the oldest seeds I've awakened were 22 yo seeds of September Dawn, but had lots of practice with some USDA seeds that had viability that was about zero. Actually I got ONE seedling of the variety Magnus, I think it was one that Craig had requested , I did requests too, back when it was possible for most folks to request seeds from the USDA, and the fruits from that one plant gave seeds for Magnus and those seeds are the source for all seeds of Magnus that are out there. Magnus was on the cover of the 1900 Livingston catalog as I recall.
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