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Monday, February 11, 2013

Saving Tomato Seed from an Exceptional Tomato Plant

Q. I planted a tomato last February. It is a Celebrity, the only one of 4 that survived blossom drop last spring. The plant started showing signs life in September so some extra watering perked it up, and produced flowers, many flowers. I covered it during our cold spell, and now continue to enjoy the last of the harvest even in January. One of those tomatoes will be my seed producer for future plantings. My dill was planted in September and still growing. Just about time to start planting again.

A. Great job keeping them going through the winter! You were fortunate to keep it alive. If this was a true Celebrity tomato, I believe it is an F1 hybrid released by Petoseed. It is a hybrid for sure.

This means that the seed from Celebrity tomato will not come true from seed. Seedlings from F1 hybrids begin "segregate out" from the parent plants used to make the hybrid. So don't expect it to produce the same type of tomato in the future by planting the seed it produced. Just a precaution for you to consider. F1 hybrids have to be purchased new each year.

F1 hybrid seed is made by cross pollinating two known and "pure" parent plants and saving the seed from this cross pollination. The seed that results from this cross is the F1, or first generation of the cross.

When F1 hybrids are created, plant breeders are looking for some specific advantage from the crossing of two different parent plants. In the case of Celebrity tomato it was predominantly for higher production and easier picking than either of its parents. It also has several resistances built into it including higher resistance to a virus disease, nematodes and some common tomato diseases.

To save seed from tomatoes and have the fruit "come true" and consistent, you should select what are called "open pollinated" types like, for instance, Brandywine tomato. Good luck and I hope you continue your great gardening experiences!

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