SAVING SEED OF HYBRID VARIETIES -
ONCE NOT RECOMMENDED; NOW ENCOURAGED
Gardeners have faced discouraging arguments about saving their
own seed, both in what they read and from conversations with other
gardeners and horticulturists. These precautions and arguments
should have been heeded most of the time and close attention paid
to some of the obvious pitfalls, such as mentioned at: http://www.plantanswers.com/garden_column/dec04/2.htm
But desperate times call for desperate actions-if we don't save
some seed of our favorite, vanishing hybrids, they will be gone
forever. I am now going to encourage you to save seed from hybrids
mainly because of the problems we are experiencing with the commercial
seed companies discontinuing the production of the favorite Texas
varieties. All of these problems are explained at: http://www.plantanswers.com/veg_varieties.htm
Since we have tested and selected absolutely the most adapted,
reliable producing varieties for this area, if we save seed from
hybrid vegetables which absolutely "won't produce exactly
the same in the next generation", the saved seed will still
be a great deal better than other non-adapted hybrids which we
will be forced to use because of the non-availability of our favorite
The Tomato Celebrity is not known as a heat-setting tomato
but is acceptable if fall temperatures cool early in the
The Tomato Merced is not a heat-setter but was a favorite
of many Texas gardeners--it is no longer available.
Granted, it is difficult for the home gardener to isolate varieties
to avoid unwanted cross-pollination. However, tomatoes and peppers
are 85 percent self-pollinated and crossing seldom occurs on the
first fruit set of the plant. If you plant only recommended varieties
in close proximity, the small percentage of crossing could conceivably
result in a better selection than the original hybrid. So to insure
optimum results, choose the first fruit which ripens on the plant
which has the qualities (yield, foliage, health, vigor, etc.)
which you want to maintain in the seedling selections. It is true
that self-pollinating a hybrid will result in the gradual deterioration
or "running out" of the original qualities of the hybrid
but, if careful selection is used, this process can take 5-10
Following are some simple directions on how to save seed from
your favorite tomato: Allow the tomato fruit to thoroughly ripen
on the vine. Cut the tomatoes open and remove the seed by squeezing
or spooning out the pulp with seeds into a non-metal container
such as a drinking glass or jar. Set the container aside for two
or three days depending on the storage temperature, i.e., the
hotter the location, the faster the fermentation. You want to
clean the pulp from the seed before the seed begins to sprout-although
some sprouting doesn't not completely ruin the batch. The pulp
and seed covering will ferment so that the seeds can be washed
clean with a directed spray of water into the fermented solution.
The clean, viable seeds will settle to the bottom of the solution,
allowing the sediment to poured off. Several rinsings may be necessary.
Then spread the tomato seed out on a newspaper to dry in a sunny,
hot location so they can dry rapidly before they sprout. After
seed are dry, scrap off of the newspaper with a blade and package,
label and date for storage in a cool (refrigerator), dry location.
This problem of disappearing vegetable varieties become more
apparent when planting tomatoes for fall production. All of the
tried-and-proven heat-setting tomato varieties such as Surefire,
SunMaster and Heatwave are getting harder and harder to find.
With non-heat-setting varieties, the successful production of
fall tomatoes is entirely dependent upon how soon cool fall weather
arrives. If cool weather arrives in mid-September, the non-heat-setting
varieties such as Celebrity can set tomatoes and ripen them in
60 days or by mid-November. Mid-November is -- on the average
-- when the majority of our area receives its first killing frost.
We have also seen tomatoes killed by an early frost on Halloween.
The great thing about the heat-setters is that they don't require
that cool snap in September to begin setting fruit----they set
the first blooms.
The Tomato SunPride will probably be the next Texas SuperStar
since it is a heat-setter and a good tasting spring tomato.
The Tomato 444 is the latest Texas SuperStar and it a virus-resistant
variety which produces well in spring and fall.
The Tomato Amelia also known as the Rodeo tomato is good
for spring but has not been tested for fall production.
So to save our heat-setters and to insure fall tomato production,
I HAVE SINNED!!!! and saved seed from a hybrid tomato variety
for you. I have chosen the most reliable fall tomato for all parts
of Texas named 'Surefire'. It is the first Texas SuperStar vegetable
and was promoted statewide in Fall, 1992 in August. Surefire is
a name I gave to GS12 which was originally sold by Goldsmith Seed
which was purchased by Northrup King Seed Company which is now
God-only-knows ................... The Surefire (VF) tomato variety
is resistant to Verticillium (V) Wilt and Fusarium (F) Wilt but
not to nematodes. Smaller determinate tomatoes such as Surefire
are more productive per square foot and should be planted two
feet apart in the row. Follow all of the recommendations for tomato
Transplants of Surefire will be available from San Antonio nurseries
in the fall and spring. If you would like to order some seed and
grow your own transplants or sow them directly into the garden,
send a self-addressed envelop with a check for $5 made payable
to Dee Emory to: Dee Emory, 2830 Bee Cave, San Antonio, Texas
If you think you have waited too late to plant fall tomatoes,
think again!! Because the horridly hot temperatures have somewhat
subsided, you may have been smart to wait to transplant fall vegetables.
Make sure you use a heat-setting variety such as Surefire, SunPride,
Heatwave and Solar Fire and you can expect to be harvesting vine-ripened
tomatoes by early November. Also realize, depending on when the
first killing frost occurs, if you are not going to provide cold
protection, you will have lots of green tomatoes to use. Check
out the green tomato recipes at: /Recipes/tomrec.html
So now you know the plan for a successful fall tomato crop. Enjoy!