parthenocarpic tomatoes?

habitat_gardener(z9 CA/Sunset15)August 13, 2008

Someone mentioned (elsewhere) that Legend is a parthenocarpic tomato that does not need to be pollinated to set fruit, so it can start producing earlier and does not drop its blossoms when it gets over 90 degrees F. With the odder than usual weather patterns this year, I'm interested in finding tomatoes that can handle wide variations in temperature. I have questions for anyone who has grown one of these.

Are there other parthenocarpic tomatoes?

Do they produce for you in both cooler and warmer temperatures?

Do they have good flavor?

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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

Are there other parthenocarpic tomatoes?


Yes. Google Dr. James Baggett OSU and a list of the parthenocarpic varieties that he's bred should come up, in addition to Legend and Oregon Spring, two of the best known ones.

And yes, I've discussed parthenocarpy here at GW recently.

Do they produce for you in both cooler and warmer temperatures?

I've only grown Oregon Spring and would not grow it again. legend was bred primarily for its supposed tolerance to Late Blight ( P. infestans) but those in the PNW who have grown it seem to agree that it isn't very tolerant as well as not being very tasty.


Do they have good flavor?

Based just on Oregon Spring and feedback from Legend and some others taste is not outstanding, probably b'c fruit development is quite abnormal

Other comments I can make are that since there's no pollen mediated fertilization of the ovules in the tomato ovary there are few to no seeds in the fruits but later in the season a few seeds may appear.

Again, b'c fruit development is abnormal fruits can be mishapen as well as mushy.

It's just my opinion but I would not consider any of the parthenocarpic varieties to be a prime choice to escape blossom drop due to high heat or humidity induced clumped pollen which are are probably the two major causes of blossom drop.

The product Blossom Set was developed for use in cold spring areas such as the PNW where temps are too cool to allow for normal self pollenization and it too induces parthenocarpy.

Different brand names of it have different plant hormones, one of them being indole acetic acid and they induce the parthenocarpy.

It generally isn't used where temps are OK for pollenization but I suppose you could try it on the first blossoms where you are to see if it does induce partheocarpy as well on varieties that inherently have good taste.

However, I think that abnormal fruit development as I mentioned above would be my hesitation.

I have quite a few friends in zone 9 CA and they all get their plants out early enough that most of the time they get little to no blossom drop and fruits ripen up normally.

So I think by adjusting your seed starting and planting out date you can circumvent most of the blossom drop and grow varieties with super taste as others in your zone do.

Hope that helps.


    Bookmark   August 13, 2008 at 7:52AM
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More info:

Guess I won't be rushing out to buy Legend seeds.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 5:25PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Dr. Carolyn has made some strong comments on LEGEND, even without planting and trying it herself, based on he said, she said, back in 2008. I wonder if she is still of the same opinion.

But anyway, being in PNW, I will try it at least this year.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 8:55PM
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Well Seysonn,

We hope you will let us know what YOU think of Legend after you have eaten some of them.

I really like the idea of a tomato that has disease resistance AND can set fruit when the temperatures soar.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 9:29PM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

The subject was parthenocarpic varieties and both Oregon Spring and Legend are parthenocarpic. I've grown the former but not the latter.

Since about 1982 I;ve read at many message sites with feedback from there and also have done myown research
in order to be able to more completely answer questions about
parthenocarpy and Blossom Set

Legend has only two genes for tolerance against Late Blight, which it was bred for. Those are ph1 and ph2 and it was bred many years ago.

Newer varieties,, especially some of Dr. Randy Gardners and others have a somewhat higher level of tolerance to Late Blight by adding ph3.

Linda,please let me clarify.

Parthenocarpic varieteis were developed to set fruits in areas, especially the Pacific NW, where temps in the Spring don't allow for good natural pollination

It hasnothing to do with fruit set in high temps at all.

Which specific disease tolerances, there's no absolute disease resistances, are you concerned about

I ask b/c I just checked and the ONLY tolerance it has, which has been superseeded by other varieties is the two genes for late blight,so still susceptible to the fungal and bacterial foliage diseases that almost all of us have problem swith and no genes for systemic soilborne diseases.

Lastly, whke many seed catalogs say to use Blossom Set in high heat to help set fruits,that's completely wrong,it was devised for help in getting fruit set in areas with cool springs ,and there's FAQ here about that last time I looked.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 11:54PM
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Hi Carolyn,

Thanks for setting me straight. I don't need tolerance to Late Blight, it's Early Blight and Septoria that give my plants problems.

I thought that Legend's fruit would set despite the high heat, and our summers are getting hotter and hotter. Last summer there was a big gap in tomato production for a month or so when the temps soared.

Are there any varieties that laugh at the heat? Will I have to grow "Everglades" to keep a steady supply going?


    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 8:07AM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

Linda, I have a long time tomato friend, Neil G, who also grows tomatoes in Ontario and has very few problems growing anything he wants to. He's sent me some great varieties in the past such as Ashleigh and Fish Lake Oxheart and several more and just sent another new one to be grown out this summer.

What you don't have is high sustained heat in ONT, which is about the same as I have here. Sure, the temps may get near 90-100 from time to time, but not the sustained heat that the folks in the south have all the time.

So Legend is not going to be the best variety for you, IMO, since it's the commeon foliage diseases that you have problems with, as do the rest of us.

No, you don't need to grow Everglades and you read at a couple of message sites so you already know that those varieties supposedly heat tolerant aren't all that tolerant.

Two reasons. First, any sustained temps over 90 destroys the protein pollen most of the time, and second, most places with high sustained heat also have high humidity and that causes pollen clumping, which is a double whammy and seriously leads to little fruit set.


    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 9:38AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

"Keeping a steady supply going" isn't really a valid expectation. Although it is somewhat more likely in your location than for any of us in the south where your "heat" would likely be wonderful compared to ours - not to mention those growers further south of me where it is 3 months of high heat rather than just 1 month. A break in production is a fact of tomato life.

Rather than focusing on trying to find a variety that will go against its nature, work on adjusting the growing conditions you provide so most any variety can cope with them.

There are all sorts of adjustments one can use to create environmental conditions that any tomato plant can cope with. It just depends on how much effort you want to put into doing it.


    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 12:51PM
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Hi Carolyn,

Neil G. shared some Fish Lake Oxheart seeds with me and I'm really looking forward to growing it this summer.

It is true that we don't have sustained heat (thank goodness) and are usually able to sleep with the windows open every night. Even so, I got the impression that my tomatoes were unhappy in that heat, and I thought it would be interesting to find something that might produce, hence my Everglades comment.

Maybe I am just impatient, and growing a few early varieties this season will solve the problem

Somehow I must have missed the info that heat-tolerant tomatoes aren't HT. It probably went over my head! I have heard people simply say that it's best not to try growing tomatoes in the heat......


    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 1:24PM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

No, you don't need to grow Everglades and you read at a couple of message sites so you already know that those varieties supposedly heat tolerant aren't all that tolerant.


Above is what I posted above and I didn't say that they weren't tolerant, as you did above, I said not that tolerant.

It is true that folks in the south try to get their plants out when they should b'c if set out too late in the high heat and humidity there's just a lot of blossom drop in the summer as I explained above.

Most in the south just try to keep them alive and when temps cool towards Fall they start sending out blossoms and fruit set can occur,

But in high heat areas most sow seeds around Xmas or so and plan to set them out some time between mid Feb and early March so they get good crops before that heat and humidity.

And some sow seeds in August of primarily det varieties to get a Fall crop.

Linda Sapp at TGS has said to grow indet ones for the Spring crop and det ones for the Fall crop.

And some top their Spring ones in late summer and just let them produce new stems, etc.

But knowing that you are in Ontario, Canada, I'm almost positive you can grow whatever you want to since your growing zone there is almost the same as mine and Neil's and many more.

Since the weather is never the same in every season, there always will be performance differences in each season.


    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 1:51PM
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Dave wrote:

"Rather than focusing on trying to find a variety that will go against its nature, work on adjusting the growing conditions you provide so most any variety can cope with them."

What a great idea! Last summer we removed two (dead) Elm trees that had always given midday shade to the tomato patch. I was very happy about that, thinking that the tomatoes would ripen earlier than before. Maybe all I need to do is to rig up some shade when it gets really hot! I can also grow a few plants in pots and bring them inside if it gets too hot (or too cold).

As Carolyn says, our weather varies. It certainly keeps us on our toes!


    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 3:11PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Exactly. And earlier planting under cover such as we do further south is another good way to 'fool the plants' into earlier fruit set before the weather get too hot. Same idea works at the end of the season too. Containers that can be moved in and out of the shade as needed, timing feedings, using heavy layers of mulch to keep the roots cool, even early morning walks through to rattle cages can all help.

Using shade cloth is often good for as much as 10-12 degrees which can make a big different too. Of course it requires more time and effort putting it up and down as needed - easy rigging helps reduce that - but the rewards are good.

But even with all that you still aren't going to get continuous production.


    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 4:45PM
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Is that Ontario, canada or Ontario, California?
I am near Sacramento, California and had the very hot dry spelk problem too last sumer. My Black Cherries had odd, pale peach fruit and an insipid flavor after the heat wave, except for the clusters that grew in the shade...i found the best ones hiding in the basil! So this year i am
1. Putting up shade cloth,
2. Putting in a deep raised bed in hooes of cooler roots than an Earthbox,
3. Mulching deeply,
4. Trying Super Sioux seeds i got from my son for Christmas.

Hope it helps, i will just have to find out..,

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 12:21AM
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If you want to try a very productive extra early ping pong ball size tomato, find seed of Jagodka. It was an excellent performer in my garden for an early variety last year and it was a good producer in a very short season climate in Utah.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 2:51AM
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I am in Ontario Canada. I think the shade cloth is a great idea!


I have some Jagodka as you have recommended them before as being early! I plan to grow one in a pot so that I can move it inside when the temperature dips to really get a jump on the season.


    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 8:24AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

OK> But the topic is :

"Parthenocarpic Tomatoes" !!!

I am sure there was life before hybrids and Parthenocarpic Tomatoes and again there are ways to deal with cool season and short season and there has been many topics/discussions about it.

But here we would like to talk about CONS and PROS of parthenocarpic tomatoes. Obviously, there are those who reject it as a useless concept . Certainly they are entitled to their opinions.

Another thing is that I never taught that HIGH HEAT should be a problem up way north in Ontario, Canada. I have gardened for years way down south, in Atl. GA(zone 8a), and though we had hot summers but I always had tomatoes all summer. Only Brandywine shut off.

This post was edited by seysonn on Mon, Feb 17, 14 at 5:36

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 8:47PM
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I grew Siletz, a parthenocarpic tomato, in the summer in over 100 degree sustained heat. Yes - they do set fruit in the heat but the fruit is virgin fruit and will not produce seed until the temps cool down dramatically. The production in the heat was very good but the fruit shape and BER was a big problem.

I have never had luck with anything but a few determinates and hybrids down here in Tucson. All the indeterminates I have ever grown produce tons of foliage and very few tomatoes.

Tomato plants are a big liability for a vegetable gardener. In my opinion, their ability to develop and transmit so many diseases compared to the 2-3 small fruits I harvested (specifically on my indeterminate plants) each year was never worth the work (and related problems) required to grow them in my climate.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 3:55PM
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