Question about tomato pollination, and pruning...

BigN_187(9)May 12, 2013

So, long story short, I have four different tomato varieties growing, all compatible with each other for pollination / breeding. I have the majority planted all together in one area. All the fruit from those plants will be strictly for consumption, as cross pollination in that area is inevitable.

However, I have one plant from each variety growing in pots. My plan is to use these plants for my breeding projects, plus just regular old seed saving. My question is, what is my best option to prevent these potted "seeder" plants from crossing, outside of my intentional breeding? Should I just put them as far apart from each other and from the "eating" patch as possible? Or would it be better to cover the flowers with mesh/cheesecloth and pollinate them 100% manually?

Also, I just finished pruning these potted tomato plants. I cut off all suckers/side shoots, but I left all of the branches, blossom bunches, and top leaves alone. Will this be okay, or have I destroyed them? ): I went by a video, and the instructions were confusing. By the way, the two varieties I pruned are Brandywine, and Matina, if it makes any difference...

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

See FAQ below. There is also a FAQ on pruning and many, many discussions here about it - both pros and cons - that the search will pull up.

Pruning is strictly optional. It is not required in any way, and what you call "suckers" are actually fruit producing lateral branches. By doing it you have reduced the plant's production substantially.

But it is your choice.


Here is a link that might be useful: Tomato forum FAQs - How to prevent cross pollination?

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 9:12PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

Some people "bag blossoms" to ensure no cross-pollination.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 9:18PM
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Right, I know it's optional, so I probably won't prune the ones I'm growing for consumption. I just know that pruning will make for bigger fruit, even if it means a smaller overall yield. I just figured it may be a smart thing to do for my "seeder" plants, from which I won't eat any of the fruit. It'll still be possible to produce a decent amount of fruit, and therefore seeds, from the pruned plants, right?

Thanks for the link, I'm going to read up after I hit submit for this post.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 10:03PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

It'll still be possible to produce a decent amount of fruit, and therefore seeds, from the pruned plants, right?

Not sure what the relevance of fewer and/or bigger fruit is to seed saving since you want to save the seed from a wide selection of fruits anyway and preferably from more than one plant and at different times of production. Are you assuming bigger fruit will yield more seeds? That may or may not be true depending on growing conditions. But lots of seed savers routinely save seeds from unpruned plants with no issues. Or is your goal increasing the size if the variety if possible?

And I assume you know that the size increase that might result is only marginally bigger. But yes, assuming the plant is not overly pruned or overly stressed by pruning and so more inclined toward disease you can still get sufficient fruit for seed saving.


    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 10:19PM
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Well, I know the brandywine variety has potential to produce massive fruits, which is one reason I chose that variety, so I wanna do everything I can to make that possible.

As for the health of the plants, nothing seems negative at all after the pruning, and I baby the hell out of them anyway. So I assume I can still expect a good number of fruits / seed?

Also, I realize that about saving seed from different plants, different stages of maturity, etc. I just figured this one plant would be enough, since I'm not going to consume any of the fruits, and since I selected the single most healthy seedling for this.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 10:48PM
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Also, I know it will vary from fruit to fruit, but what is a rough estimate of how many seeds could possibly be found in one Brandywine tomato? Will there be very few, a decent amount, an abundance, what?

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 12:32AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Agree with edweather, that said:

" Some people "bag blossoms" to ensure no cross-pollination"

You can bag (cover with fine netted french tulle) a cluster before flowering untill fruits are set. Then tag that cluster and remove the bag. Let the fruits ripen to perfection an then collect the seeds from it .

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 5:04AM
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