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Montana Tomato Project

What I would like to do, is collaboratively restart the regional tomato breeding program that started around a 100 years ago with tomato breeding at Universities in North Dakota, Idaho, and Alberta and ended about 34 years ago with the last releases of tomatoes in 1990.

The goal here is to modernize and make resilient regional tomato varieties for the region centered on Montana and including Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan. The basic method will be crossing existing regional tomato varieties with both OSSI tomato varieties and good sources of diversity including wild tomato species, traditional tomato varieties from South America, and modern hybrids including Galahad F1 and Purple Zebra F1. Then growing out those crosses to stability and selecting new varieties.

Researcher background
I am an science educator and botanist. As an educator I love to teach students about botany, plant breeding, seeds, and the natural world. As a botanist I am fascinated by the conservation of plants and the effects of climate change on sustainable food systems. I see plant breeding as a way citizen scientists can help adapt their communities to climate change. I have been crossing tomato varieties in my Ronan MT Garden since 2017.
Are you seeking volunteer growers or other types of volunteers?
Yes, seeking volunteer growers
How many volunteers do you need?
What will you ask volunteers to do?
Grow out crosses, make selections, and stabilize new varieties. Make new crosses if able.
Other requirements of volunteers?
For this project, volunteers should garden in Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Saskatchewan, Alberta, or British Columbia. Following the example of the Dwarf Tomato Project all resultant varieties are intended to be registered with the Open Source Seed Initiative and by joining the project you agree to this.
Is this a multi-year project?
Can volunteers expect to be able to keep some germplasm (seeds, bulbs, cuttings, spores, etc) at the close of the project?
Yes, of course
Anything else?
I have shared some initial unfinished varieties though EFN and Snake River Seed Coop (and intend to share more) and they may be a good starting point for new volunteers. Both catalogues ship to Canada and provide a good legal means of germplasm exchange between the two countries.
I also have a thread for the project ongoing on the Open-Source Seed Initiative's Plant Breeding Forum,746.0.html
Researcher Location

United States

Project Updates

Mission Mountain Grex Available in EFN Store

project update by
Tuesday, January 9, 2024 - 01:43

Variety description for Mission Mountain Grex:

All tomatoes in this grex are descended from OSSI pledged tomatoes, and I consider the project to be one where you: the end user of these seeds and I are working towards breeding more open source tomatoes together. I hope you take this variable and still segregating population and find something in it that does well in your garden. Then save seeds, name your new variety, and hopefully eventually repledge it to the Open Source Seed Initiative

This grex of tomatoes is one I have made in the last few years working towards some new Montana bred tomato varieties. It contains seed for what will be F2, F3, and F4 seedlings. Ancestors of this mix include Joseph Lofthouse’s Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI) pledged Big Hill (HX-9), OSSI pledged Dwarf Mocha’s Cherry, and OSSI pledged Dwarf Gloria’s Treat. I also included as ancestors for disease resistance two accessions of the current tomato Solanum pimpinellifolium LA1375 PI365967 an accession known for tolerance to brown rugose fruit virus, and PI 270443 which may be the source material for PH5 late blight resistance. I used Purple Zebra F1, a remarkable modern hybrid, bred for looks and heirloom flavor by artisanal breeder Mark Mccaslin as another parent that may confer some resistances to a small portion of its offspring. I made a cross with a Solanum galapagense hybrid that showed up in my 2022 garden for another ancestor. Other ancestors include Mission Mountain Sunrise, a tomato Joseph Lofthouse calls Brad, Sweet Cherriette, microdwarf Aztek, Brad Gate’s Blue Gold, Brad Gate’s Brad’s Atomic Grape, as well as some unknown pollen donors. This mix is largely composed of F2 seed that will segregate in spectacular fashion. Reds, yellows, orange, green when ripe, bicolors, blue skin, potato leaf, regular leaf, and stripes are all possibilities. A small portion of the population may have elongated styles that stick out from the pollen cone facilitating higher rates of natural outcrossing and it is possible that additional crosses could have occurred in 2023.

Specific Crosses include:
Mission Mountain Morning is a cross between Mission Mountain Sunrise and Big Hill (HX-9), the only F4 seed in the mix. Mission Mountain Sunrise is Brad x Blue Gold
Mission Mountain Morning x Aztek now in the F3
Mission Mountain Morning x LA1375
Mission Mountain Morning x PI270443
Dwarf Gloria’s Treat x LA1375
Dwarf Glorias Treat x Unknown Regular Leaf Blue Bicolor Beefsteak
Mission Mountain Morning best stigma exsertion in F2 x Unknown fathers
Mission Mountain Morning x Sweet Cherriette now in the F3
Mission Mountain Morning x Brad’s Atomic Grape
Mission Mountain Morning x (Solanum galapagense x unknown domestic)
Mission Mountain Morning x Purple Zebra F1
Dwarf Mocha’s Treat x Mission Mountain Sunrise
Note: if not otherwise mentioned, they are F2 seeds.