Direct Seeded, Dry Farmed, Exserted, and Self Incompatible Tomatoes in Montana
I have now been direct seeding tomatoes for three years inspired by a few volunteers that made just a few ripe fruits in 2016. I have also been growing wild and wild hybrid tomatoes for the last three years.
Goal 1: Direct Seeded Tomatoes, this is looking very doable and I will be growing out an F3 population of at least one variety bred under these conditions. It is descended from Blue Ambrosia and Amurski Tigr both of which work for me direct seeded and I am tentatively calling it Exserted Tiger.
Goal 2: Selecting for exserted stigmas
Goal 3: Tasty self incompatible tomatoes short enough season to direct seed. Will be working on the tasty part this year and not so much the direct seeding part. Though I may manage to grow enough seed this year of the F2 population I am growing out this year to try direct seeding the F3 next year. I do have enough seed of other wild hybrids to potentially direct seed this year if I have space. This goal of my project is a subset of a larger project Joseph Lofthouse is doing to develop self incompatible tomatoes.
Goal 4: Dry Farming, I never watered my main patch last year. It did rain regularly though and unusually so it wasn't a good test. However, it seems possible that this might be a very achievable goal here.
Pleasantly surprised to find that direct seeding and at least in a good year dry farming works fairly well for me.
One very important reason to try to incorporate wild germplasm and why Joseph has his self incompatible project of which this is a subset, is that domestic tomato germplasm is counterintuitively extremely narrow in diversity at the genetic level. Most of the diversity we see in variety numbers and apparent variation in tomatoes is all very superficial. This means tomatoes are very susceptible. So if we can get tomatoes to outbreed like tomatillos already do by incorporating the necessary traits from wild species such as Solanum habrochaites and Solanum penellii, we think we can change that very rapidly. So basically I am doing this because it may help save tomatoes as a viable organically grown crop for future generations and greatly increase it's resiliency.