The Montana Tomato Project and community networking

Re: The One

Nope the apparent dwarfing trait is from wild domestic gene interactions. It is 25% wild and of that 12.5% habrochaites and 12.5% penellii. It is 50% Big Hill HX9 and most likely derived from S34,S35,S36 row names from Joseph.

It is a regular leaf plant. I suspect I sent you the isolated grow out unless the packet said it was in a crossing block.

Its promiscuity varies. In 2021 that was part of the selection criteria that led to its discovery. The anther cone was open in 2021 with the stigma exposed. In 2022 the anther cones while disconnected were not so open and the stigma not so exposed. The disconnected nature of the anther cone means it is not possible to transplant the whole cone to another plant when attempting manual crosses- this flummoxed me a bit in 2022. It also does not seem to be a prolific pollen producer.

I would be a little shocked if some of the variation observed within it in 2022 wasn’t from outcrossing given the structure of the 2021 flowers. I actually grew it in four different gardens in 2022. An Isolation garden- likely the source of the seed I sent you unless otherwise noted on the packet. The Diversity Garden (crossing block with lots of varieties), The Mission Mountain X The One crossing block, and one plant in the greenhouse. I saved seed from all four. One notable variant was in the diversity garden- a single plant that seemed to produce normal amounts of seed.

I saved considerable seed from the Mission Mountain crossing block I made in 2022 that could lead to a tomato like the one you described (and my talking about it and other experiments is what you have captured in your quote and the source of the question) but that tomato is about two years out- if the cross got made! Though the crossing block was actually a little looser than Mission Mountain Morning X The One. It was four things. Mission Mountain Sunrise, Mission Mountain Morning, The One! and Little Pumpkins. I’ve already planted some seed from a really promising exserted plant of Mission Mountain Morning in the block, but I have an envelope with enough seed to direct seed if it is needed. I may revive the crossing block with it if need be. It all depends on finding that regular leaf seedling amongst the potato leaf!


Had an interesting result with the 2022 projects. It appears that four out of five crossing blocks tested produced no crosses.

I think this is due to selected male parents that are poor pollen producers and maybe some mismatch in bee behavior.

Still an interesting result and it is causing me to have a rethink as to methodology for 2023 and the best way to utilize my isolation gardens.

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7 posts were split to a new topic: Manually crossing tomatoes

When you are referencing ‘subarctic’ here, would that be a similar ‘subarctic’ as the ‘subarctic plenty’ I just up-potted (from Ken Asmus at Oikos - he sent them as a random “Hey, try these and the Seneca Flour corn. They’re good growers.”)?

They didn’t specify and may not have known, but the sub-arctic tomato project was a series of varietal releases bred in Alberta. Here are three of them:


[the 11 messages below have been moved from Greenies’ thread, sorry for messing up the Timeline-- Julia/moderting]

Oh just read this bit now. So… is the implication here that … oh wait a minute I thought I was understanding for a moment there but I realise I was thinking of exserted stigmas, not exerted stamens. I’m brand new to all this so I don’t want to assume it was the author’s mistake, I’ll wait for clarification… but I thought really it’s the stigmas we are interested in in terms of promiscuity (plus petal size and presentation).

In the meantime, I’ve just realised that @WilliamGrowsTomatoes you’re the (co-?)creator of the ‘exserted orange’ which I have been admiring from afar! I hope one day I have the privilege of growing and tasting that fine looking tomato! (Assuming it might do ok in the UK climate?) I’d love to hear more about that one if you’d like to share, like how you feel about it and how it fits in in the context of the above conversation on taste and climate etc. :slight_smile:

Exserted Orange is a tomato I named and grew from the F2, it is from a Big Hill cross that occurred in someone named Malcolm’s garden- what was intended to be and might have been a cross to some habrochaites material though I doubt it was pure habrochaites if so. It may have just bypassed Malcom’s crossing block attempt and crossed to some orange domestic like Sungold F1 in some neighbor’s garden. Then Joseph grew the F1 and sent me F2 seed. I included that seed in my 2019 massive F2 grow out. I selected the plant I thought had the best exsertion in the F2. Then in the F3 I grew it for seed increase in one of my isolation gardens. That F3 seed went to EFN. I grew it again in the F4 and all parents were exserted and orange -that seed went to Snake River Seed Coop. There is a sister variety of Joseph’s from the same cross called Orange Hill. Generally, I think it tastes ok and is early, orange, and exserted like Big Hill. I don’t think much of it really- it doesn’t have the same excitement to me that some of the wilder things have. I would probably be more excited about it if I was convinced it had a high habrochaites percentage. It has some utility in terms of diversifying the traits available in lines with stigmas that stick out fairly far. My personal plans for it are to cross it with one of my exserted potato leaf strains and probably from there move on to an orange or orange bicolor potato leaf descendant variety. I think the main reason I have those future plans for it is because it is hard to let go of something you have grown and selected in your garden for a few generations. @julia.dakin Julia Dakin reported finding a blue skinned segregate which might be a possibility from some 2019 outcrossing as I grow a lot of blue skinned tomatoes! Joseph reported some grow reports from the 2020 F3 that were- variable. I think Erin / Greenie reported that it was shorter season than Big Hill in her garden.


I have find that if I cross a tomato with good stigma exsertion to one without that in the F2 the trait segregates and can be reselected. In a fairly large F2 grow out I usually find one with great exsertion and that one can then be isolated and stabilized. However, I don’t use the term promiscuous for these tomatoes. I reserve the term promiscuous for Joseph’s project only and I consider that to mainly include the tomatoes from crosses to Solanum habrochaites and Solanum penellii. An important distinction because these populations are not necessarily that stable in how exserted the stigmas are. Also it can be frustrating from generation to generation. For example: the tomato I selected in 2021 as the best tasting Lofthouse Promiscuous project tomato I called it “The One!” also had great exsertion and an open flower. The next generation in 2022 was variable for exsertion, open anther cone, and flavor. I didn’t end up with a 2022 favorite either. I feel much better about breeding for exsertion with my 2022 selection of the strain of fully domestic tomato I call Mission Mountain Morning. It is segregating for exsertion from two parents- but I suspect that my favorite indivual with the best exsertion got that mainly from Big Hill which is what I stabilized in Exserted Orange and I think it will follow the same pattern.

I feel fine about Stupice. I think it is a local favorite here in Western Montana and therefore on my list of crosses I should probably make someday. Kind of lower down on the list though so I don’t know when I will get around to it.

Basically, I found what I felt were even shorter season tomatoes when I did my big, short season tomato grow out in 2017- it didn’t even make my top 10 list.

Thanks for explaining about Exserted Orange.

Very interesting. So, ironically, would you say your ‘exserted’ tomatoes are actually more promiscuous than the ‘promiscuous’ ones? Or have I misunderstood something?

This makes me think about method - it sounds like that method is different from the landrace method right? Like, selecting one and then trying to stabilise it? Would we maybe have less problem in that regard if we are selecting our 10 favourite (or whatever percentage of however much we are able to grow) and working on a population as a whole? Maybe that way the instability of individual lines would be less of an issue, and the bubbling group would still tend, albeit erratically, in the direction of our choosing?

That sounds exciting. Do you also cross those with some of your favourite ‘promiscuous’ ones? It would seem to me they would suit each other and could make exciting crosses?

And oh that’s interesting Stupice is a local favourite there! Though your even shorted season ones sound enticing too!

Some of my exserted tomatoes may have higher outcrossing rates than some of Joseph’s wild species crosses and some of Joseph’s wild species crosses may have higher outcrossing rates than some of my exserted tomatoes. This is complicated by the fact that I make liberal use of Joseph’s work and eventually it will probably all be merged in some lines. I see breeding for exsertion in tomatoes as a pre-breeding effort. So now if I want to I could create a population of tomatoes which only includes diverse exserted founders. I’m not sure that is strictly necessary though. What I am finding though is that it is really handy to have a exserted mother tomato with some recessive traits you can use as a visual marker. Potato leaves are one such trait and the rugose dwarfing trait is another.

I am an independent plant breeder like Joseph who works closely with Joseph and is heavily influenced by Joseph and by Carol Deppe. My prebreeding technique for exsertion of stigma in tomatoes is a different procedure but it is not incompatible with Joseph’s method writ large. I am prebreeding for a trait that leads to higher outcrossing rates!

One of my 2022 crossing blocks was between a particularly tasty selection of Joseph’s project and potato leaf exserted tomatoes. My hope is that it will lead eventually to a tastier tomato but with the potato leaves and blue skin of my line. I don’t know yet if the cross happened for sure and won’t until it is time to start seedlings. I’ll know then because any crosses will be regular leaf from a potato leaf mother!

Another cross I did make is between Joseph’s promiscuous and LA2329 habrochaites. In fact I’ve made the cross two years in a row now! I’ve also crossed the cross to my Mission Mountain Morning potato leaf exserted blue skinned bicolor F2 so yes I can finally say that I do indeed make crosses between my lines and Joseph’s promiscuous project. Though um I also made my own wild cross as part of that!

In my seed collection there are probably a number of wild crosses and crosses between partially wild parents and domestics between my and Joseph’s material. Only some of my gardens are isolation gardens and a lot of seed gets saved from the crossing block gardens. Every year I have one garden that is essentially a really messy crossing block. Exserted seed saved from that garden could have a lot of random fathers. It is hard to find those seedlings.

Just this year I realized that a lot of wild cross seedlings may actually be a bit weak at first as I successfully found them in my deliberate LA2329 crossing block domestic seeds. Joseph also found that he could sort seed lots for small sized seed and find habrochaites crosses that way. So if I applied both procedures to some of my seed packets we could probably search through and find a lot of fairly random habrochaites crosses as habrochaites has been in my messiest gardens with exserted strains since 2017. I think I would need help for that though! I don’t have the greenhouse space!

Most of the even shorter season than Stupice discoveries I made are not mine in the true sense. They are existing varieties like 42 days, Sweet Cherriette, Anmore Dewdrop, Coyote and Forest Fire. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if my Mission Mountain Sunrise is shorter season than Stupice. However, the shortest season variety I discovered Sweet Cherriette has now been crossed by me with Mission Mountain Morning my cross between my Mission Mountain Sunrise and Joseph’s Big Hill HX-9. So I am getting there in terms of developing my own early tomatoes!


@WilliamGrowsTomatoes thanks for sharing about all of that, it sounds so wonderful! And very inspiring.

I’m really interested about that and just wanted to ask, how come I don’t seem to hear about crosses with peruvianum? Is that absent from the promiscuous project for example?

I heard it’s hard to cross directly, but, haven’t some people managed to bring it in somehow? Or is it just not attractive for breeding purposes?

I did come across this listing for seeds from Polish botanist Dr. Szymański:

Wild Peruvian Tomato (Lycopersicon peruvianum - the form compatible with ‘Esculentum group’) - 12 seeds

The rare tomato species native to Peru and Chile - perennial, which can be grown as annual in temperate areas, with small (1-3cm = 0,4-1,2 inch diameter), acidous fruits. Ripe fruit is edible and delicious (eaten for example in Ecuador). It has high vitamin C content. Drought resistant. A very rare form compatible (as pollen donor) with some (probably not all) species ‘Esculentum group’ and varieties of Lycoperscon esculentum (it is rare feature in Lycopersicon peruvianum which is usually not compatible with them). The seeds are very frost hardy and this form became weedy in our (7a zone) garden. Rarity. Package 12 fresh seeds (harvested from our garden).

I asked him what he meant by ‘Esculentum group’ and he said:

Solanum lycopersicum = Lycopersicon esculentum,
Solanum / Lycopersicon cheesmaniae,
Solanum / Lycopersicon galapagense,
Solanum / Lycopersicon pimpinellifolim
and Lycopersicon cerasiforme = Solanum lycopersicum var. cerasiforme.

So if you think it’s worth it, I could try crossing these with plants from the exserted and/or promiscuous lines, if that hasn’t been done yet?

So I went way down this rabbit hole, there is also a peruvianum group. At one point in the history of taxonomy several tomato species that taxonomists now recognize as distinct were all lumped together as peruvianum. I found an scientific article saying that two specific accessions of Solanum arcanum (formerly part of peruvianum) and one accession of Solanum chilense (Also formerly part of Peruvianum) are a little bit easier to cross with domestic tomatoes.

I have not to date managed to make such a cross with any of the three nor with the general peruvianum grex that I got from Joseph. Such a cross might require embryo rescue depending on the specific accession / species. Which doesn’t sound too difficult but between my work / school / child I haven’t felt and still don’t feel up to making an attempt at that currently. To do so I think I would need to grow a lot of plants and make a lot of crosses in order to have several hundred ready to go for an day or two of tissue culture / embryo rescue. As it is I haven’t done any plant tissue culture since my son who is now six was born.

However; Andrew Barney another tomato collaborator obtained some of the existing crossed peruvianum accessions available from the two major U.S. seed banks and then shared them with myself and Joseph Lofthouse. I’ve grown these a couple of times now, its sort of drifted down on my radar since the fabulous success of the high percentage Solanum penellii and Solanum habrochaites hybrids became really successful. I think one of the plants I grew this year from the materials Andrew sent looked pretty much like a early generation high percentage wild hybrid of some kind. I am sure if it were diluted a little with something tastier and grown out a few more generations it would result back in some fine tomatoes.

The peruvianum species in general seems to have potential it grows well, is very adaptable and has a lot of the characteristics of domestic tomatoes that is it is R selected and a bit of a field weed.

If you want to work with peruvianum it is certainly an option. I would say get some seed, grow some, and see what you think of the plant before you commit to it too much.

It is also definitely a topic that deserves its own thread and has one here: Crossing and Bridging with Solanum peruvianum


I classify tomatoes into several groups based on how they are pollinated.

Inbreeding: Domestic tomatoes. Cross pollination rates are under 3%.

Mostly Inbreeding: Domestic tomatoes like beefsteaks, and some cherries which have an exposed stigma. They might cross pollinate as much as 5-10%.

Panamorous: From the Beautifully Promiscuous and Tasty Tomatoes project. The wide open, huge flowers attract pollinators, making them facultative out-crossers. Meaning that they are capable of selfing, but the flower structure encourages cross-pollination.

Polyamorous: Tomatoes that are 100% out-crossing, and have alleles that prevent self-pollination. Some wild species carry this trait.

Mixed Breeding: The general population of panamorous/polyamorous that hasn’t been selected for a consistent breeding system.

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I sent seeds out into world of Exserted Orange which was collaborative and Exserted Tiger which started as a cross in my garden. EO went to both EFN and Snake River ET went to Snake River. Both were early enough here to be direct seeded. When I got it Lee Goodwin’s Blue Ambrosia from his J&L gardens in New Mexico was 4/5ths exserted. I tried Golden Tresette from Alan Kapuler and it was moderately exserted. I’ve sent a packet of seed for my tomato called Mission Mountain Sunrise to Snake River for 2023 but it is only exserted in a warm year and then not consistently. Lots of heirloom potato leaf tomatoes are supposed to have some exsertion. Joseph Lofthouse’s Big Hill or HX-9 is a good source of pretty stable exsertion for me. Solanum habrochaites and Solanum penellii are also good sources of exsertion but I dream of crossing them with already exserted tomatoes as it is a nuisance how they segregate for the trait when there are more important things to get from a wild species cross. I am not however, certain that exsertion from two different sources will be stable.

Short Season tomatoes: Joseph did indeed start with some nicely short season ones including Jagodka, Silvery Fir Tree/Fern, and the one he calls Brad. Some of the other earliest of reasonable size include 42 days, Forest Fire, and Anmore Dewdrop. My Mission Mountain Sunrise is early arising from a cross between a unknown Lofthouse potato leaf and Brad Gate’s Blue Gold. Joseph’s Big Hill is decently early- I can direct seed it. So my current working tomato is my cross between Big Hill and Mission Mountain Sunrise I am calling Mission Mountain Morning but I don’t know if or when I will release that because It is a transitional form and I’ve already made next step crosses with it and those may be more fun having potential for additional traits like dwarfing. Though it may be my cross mother again in 2023.

I would say that both Joseph and I have definitely been interested in crossing short season tomatoes with longer season tomatoes to get better short season tomatoes and it shows in how short season many of ours are. Joseph crossed his tomatoes with habrochaites and a penellii hybrid to get the promiscuous project and it can be quite early. Though sometimes you find a later one.


Today’s cross attempts

  1. Yellow tiger x EO
  2. EO x (MMM x BAG)
  3. Farthest North x MMR not dwarf
  4. Farthest North x EO
  5. MMM x PZ x MMM x BAG
  6. MMR dwarf x EO
  7. Fruity x EO
  8. Fisher’s Mountain boy x (MMM x BAG)
  9. Fisher’s earliest paste x (MMM x BAG)
  10. (MMM x PZ) x (MMM x BRown rugose)
  11. (MmM x LB pimp) x (MMM x Brown Rugose)
  12. Bison x (MMM x Brown Rugose)
  13. Idagold x (MMM x Brown Rugose)
  14. ET x (MMM x Brown Rugose)
  15. Uluru Ochre x (MMM x Brown Rugose)
  16. Wilford x (MMM x Brown Rugose)
  17. Dwarf Eagle Smiley x (MMM x Brown Rugose)
  18. MMS x (MMM x Brown Rugose)
  19. Mandarin Mini x (MMM x Brown Rugose)
  20. Prairie Fire x (MMM x Brown Rugose)
  21. MMM x (MMM x Brown Rugose)
  22. Fisher’s Earliest Paste x (MMM x Brown Rugose)
  23. Coyote x (MMM x Brown Rugose)
  24. HR Galapagense type 3 x (MMM x Brown Rugose)
  25. Solanum cheesemanii LA 0428 or LA 0429 x (MMM x Brown Rugose)
  26. LA1410 Solanum galapagense x (MMM x Brown Rugose)
  27. LA1404 Solanum cheesemanii x (MMM x Brown Rugose)
  28. (BH x LA2329 F1) x (MMM x Brown Rugose)
  29. (MMM x LA2329 F1) x (MMM x Brown Rugose)
  30. (MMM x unknown f1) x (MMM x Brown Rugose)
  31. (MMM x Sweet cherriette rl f2) x (MMM x Brown Rugose)
  32. Dwarf Gloria’s treat x (MMM x Brown Rugose)
  33. Dwarf Gloria’s treat x (PL MMM x Sweet Cherriette F2)
  34. Siberian x (MMM x Brown Rugose)
  35. Muddy Waters x MMR F2 not dwarf
  36. Hoosier Rose x (Dwarf Mochas x MMS an F1)

Quite a few were tiny flowers in the open field and I stuck with the emasculation technique. Weather is cool, partly cloudy, with some smoke looks like. I don’t expect the F1 LA2329 hybrids to work as mothers but I tried anyway because they didn’t have flowers far along enough to do otherwise.

Odds of taking might improve generally if I redip tomorrow.

Got Idagold in there so now all the surrounding states are included in my nostalgia project.


I have harvested two fruits, one each from 2 different wildings, from attempted arcanum crosses. One fruit had 2 fully formed seeds, one had 1. Trying to germinate them now :slight_smile: (Oh by the way, is there any benefit of drying seeds before trying to germinate them, or is cleaning them and trying straight away fine? I dried the 2 first but not the 1).

I have various other fruits of attempted arcanum and peruvianum crosses ripening, as well as various other interspecies crosses.

Also harvested plenty of seeds from Black Sea Man crossed to Wild Gem; Wilding; Island Sunrise (a lcy+che+pimp cross); and HRSeeds’ ‘cheesmaniae’ (which clearly has some lyc in it). I like Black Sea Man since it has big fruit, a fat and sturdy stem, and seems to do well in cool and low light intensity climate, plus tastes great, but, not disease resistant. Hoping these wild genetics will help that.

Lots more crosses to harvest and lots more to make too.

From a conversation with @JesseI, I’m wondering now, what does ‘short season’ and ‘early’ mean? And are they synonymous? Like, how are these terms being used in your context and/or the by the public? Is it about when the first fruits are ready, or most of the fruits, or all of the fruits?

And have you guys ever compared for example, how the earliness compares for the resultant crosses between:

  • most early domestic (that is small fruited - they’re all small fruited right?) X wild
  • relatively early big fruited domestic X wild

I’d be really interested in experiential evidence on this. In case my other comments on this have not been seen, I’m wondering if the smallening of the fruits from crossing with wilds might result in the cross with the fatter domestic being able to give a bigger but just as ‘early’ (or potentially even earlier) descendent than the cross with the earlier but smaller domestic.

I use short season and early as synonyms.

I have similar questions about size and earliness. I suspect it is much harder to make a large fruited early tomato.

There are some early tomatoes with large fruits Siletz for example sets its first fruits without pollination or seed in them.

Big Hill HX-9 is reasonably large and reasonably early.

I consider anything that can set ripe fruit in my climate direct seeded to be early enough.


:joy: :joy: :joy:
Ok ok I clicked it! :blush: