NEW WORLD RECORD 8.41 lb. TOMATO!!!

Gordon Graham’s 28-year-old record of 7.75 lbs. has withstood an ever increasing barrage of attack by the world’s greatest tomato growers.

Massive KUDOS and CONGRATULATIONS to Dan MacCoy of Ely, Minnesota!!

8.41 POUNDS!!!

See the video of harvest and weighing at:

Dan MacCoy’s 8.41 Tomato

Read about how he did it at:

Master P Diary at BP

Doubtless there will be stories about this amazing accomplishment all over the press in days to come!

Full geneaology of this new world record is:

Big Zac (8.41 MacCoy 2014)(4.57 MacCoy 2013)(5.07 Boudyo 2010)(5.41 Harp 2009)(5.58 Timm 2008)(3.9 Catapano 2007)(4.59 Lyons 2006)(Big Zac F1 Commercial)

Dan was kind enough to share seeds of his 4.57 pound tomato which produced this new world record.  I have three of those plants growing and have made several successful crosses with other varieties – more to come about that.

Here is a ripening tomato on one of these Big Zac (4.57 MacCoy 2013) plants:

Big Zac (4.57 MacCoy 2013) HT A-001 8-23-2014 A

Though giant by my standards, I must confess it will NOT compete with Dan’s new record!  But it will have the SAME GENETICS – it is a FULL SIBLING of the 8.41 lb. world record!  And seeds from this one will be much easier to come by – just go to

DT SEEDS

These seeds will be ready by around September 15th.

 

Thinning Tomatoes for Fall Weigh Off

Annual giant pumpkin (etc.) weigh off is coming up on September 27th.

Tomato growers know that to get the largest tomato possible on a given truss, you must remove all tomatoes except the largest.  The sooner you do this the better.

It stands to reason that to get the largest tomato possible on a tomato vine, all but the largest tomato must go.  But it’s not that simple.  Trusses lower on the vine obviously bloom and set fruit earlier.  So what do you do if you have five trusses, each with a single fruit growing?

Fast growing tomatoes on lower trusses presumably commandeer a large portion of available resources before they can be made available to fruits growing on younger trusses.  So if a fruit on a higher truss is clearly larger than one on a lower truss, that’s  a pretty good indication that it has greater potential to grow large.  This phenomenon happens with some frequency, particularly when large megablooms are involved.

More often, however, tomato size is directly proportional to days since fruit set.  Then the decision about which tomatoes to prune becomes more challenging.  This has been one of my primary motivations for tracking tomatoes with calipers.  A few days of precise measurements can usually reveal which tomato is growing faster, and the other can be pruned without regrets.

But what about all those tomatoes that are not being measured on a regular basis?  Nobody has time or resources to measure them all unless they have institutional support, such as a research grant with graduate student labor.  That’s certainly not the case with my giant tomato project and I simply cannot keep up with all tomatoes on all 60 plants that are in the project this year.

So the decision making comes down to these considerations:

• When is your local weigh off?  Select tomatoes to leave on the vine which look like they will be ripe no more than 10 days before the event

• Select tomatoes which look like they have BIG potential:  thick pedicle; thick peduncle; blossoms scars indicating two or more fused ovaries; no blossom end rot or other significant blemishes

• Fruits just look like they have potential – more of an art than a science when no measurements are taken; light green, shinny skin color; good depth in all three dimensions; imagine – what would it look like if allowed to grow to full size; and of course experience.

So with this strategy in mind, I conducted a major harvest and thinning.  The goal is to remove all but one tomato per vine and hope that one will grow huge just in time for the Fall weigh off.

The assumption is that removal of all other tomatoes will “RELEASE” the remaining tomato and it will almost immediately begin growing at an accelerated rate.  I am not convinced that this release actually occurs on a regular basis.  Over the past couple of weeks I’ve done all-but-one thinning on several vines with tomatoes that I have been tracking carefully.  In most cases I have not observed any noticeable increase in growth rates of the single tomatoes selected to remain on the vine.  But it’s still too early to make conclusions.

Decisions to thin or not to thin were not easy, but following is a pictorial overview of some of the sacrifices.

The entire batch of harvested and thinned tomatoes, about 55 lbs. total, all from the backyard high tunnel:

Tomato Thinnings 8-21-2014 rev

Belmonte (1.556 DT 2011)…(4.14 Perry 2009) -

These 10 tomatoes, 6.836 lbs. total, harvested

Belmonte (6.836 for 10 DT 2014)(1.556 DT 2011) A rev

To make room for this one:

Belmonte (1.556 DT 2010) HT-01 8-21-2014 A rev

Church (1.662 DT 2010)(4.48 Perry 2009) -

These 6 tomatoes, 7.340 lbs. total for the 5 largest, harvested

Church (7.340 for 5 DT 2014)(1.662 DT 32011) C rev

To make room for this one:

Church (1.662 DT 2011) HT A-01 8-21-2014 B rev

Donskoi (1.866 DT 2012), which already produced a very delicious 3.108 pounder, thinned to just this one:

Donskoi HT A-02 8-21-2014 C rev

Epstein’s Potato Leaf, sibling vine in the giant tomato bed already produced two 2+ pounders -

These 5 tomatoes, 4.490 lbs. total for the 4 largest, harvested

Epstein's Potato Leaf (1.270 DT 2014)(4.940 for 4)(_Johnson 2013) D rev

To make room for this one:

Epstein's Potato Leaf (_Johnson 2013) HT-01 9-21-2014 D rev

Homer’s German Oxheart (1.916 DT 2012), so far a disappointment this year -

These 8 tomatoes, 6.890 lbs. total, harvested

Homer's German Oxheart (6.890 for 8 DT 2014)(1.916 DT 2012) C rev

To make room for this one:

Homer's German Oxheart HT A-01 8-21-2014 D rev

Hoy (~3 lb. Kott 2011), a plant that got off to a very slow start, thinned to just this one:

Hoy (3 Kott 2011) HT-01 8-21-2014 A rev

Russian (2.319 DT 2010) -

Three beautiful heart-shaped fruits, largest 2.136 lb., 5.602 lbs. total, plus the small fruit (0.336 lb.) resulting from the massive megabloom profiled on June 30th, harvested

Russian (1.698 DT 2014)(2.319 DT 2010) thinning 8-18-2014 D rev

To make room for this double flat heart near the top of the high tunnel

Russian (2.319 DT 2010) HT-05 8-21-2014 B rev

On the fastest growing of all 60 vines.  I’ve let it, along with a few other vines grow up through the high tunnel.

Russian (2.319 DT 2010) HT-05 8-21-2014 C rev

West Virginia Sweetmeat (1.806 DT 2012) -

Two fruits over two pounds (see other post) and a few little ones harvested to make room for this impressive looking specimen:

West Virginia Sweet Meat A-02 8-21-2014 D rev

Not tracked or even measured yet, but looks like it has a good chance of going over 3 lbs.

So it is hoped that among these lone “survivors”, plus several others not profiled here, will emerge some tomatoes in the 3-5 (!) pound range, ripe just in time for the weigh off.

And just for fun:

Catapano (1.278 DT 2014)(2.2 Catapano 2005), dubbed “longnose”:

Catapano (1.278 DT 2014) longnose F rev Catapano (1.278 DT 2014) longnose C rev

Big Rainbow (1.328 DT 2014)(1.888 DT 2011), an intricate work of natural art, provoking one’s imagination:

Big Rainbow (1.328 DT 2014)(1.888 DT 2011) C rev

 

First 2-pound Tomato of 2014

(Some 3+ pounders further down!)

First 2 lb. tomato of 2014:

Epstein’s Potato Leaf (2.106 DT 2014)

Pic on July 06:

Epstein's PL 3X blossom NH D rev

Pic on July 20:

Epstein's PL 3X blossom NH 7-20-2014 D

Pic on August 10:

Epstein's PL TB A-002 NH 8-10-2014 A

Pic on August 12:

Epstein's Potato Leaf (2.106 DT 2014) A

After applying a DAF (Density Adjustment Factor) of 0.95, estimated weight from diameter measurements was 2.001 lb.; without this DAF, estimate was 2.106 lb. – first time that’s happened!   Said to be a derivative of Big Zac, but I’ve observed very little in common that variety: clear skin, potato leaved, distinctly different shape of blossoms and fruit.  Flavor is quite similar to Big Zac however:  bright, juicy, fairly sweet and just delicious – perfect for big sandwiches; 8.5 of 10.

AND – the first 2.5 lb. tomato of the season!

Bezrazmernyi (2.534 DT 2014)(1.698 DT 2012)

This one was not tracked, but I’ve been watching it for weeks.

Pic on August 10:

Bezrazmernyi (1.698 DT 2012) HT002 8-10-2014 B

Pics on August 12:

Bezrazmernyi (2.534 DT 2014) A rev Bezrazmernyi (2.534 DT 2014) DBezrazmernyi (2.534 DT 2014) G rev

After applying a DAF (Density Adjustment Factor) of 0.95, estimated weight from diameter measurements was 2.417 lb.; without this DAF, estimate was 2.544 lb. – another close one.  Looking forward to tasting it as well.

August 16th – very tasty, moderately sweet, flavor score = 8.0 of a possible 10; all 2.5 lbs. devoured in 10 min….

Bezrazmernyi (2.534 DT 2014) J rev

Here in North America, Bezrazmernyi is not yet on the radar screen for growing giant tomatoes, but it obviously has huge potential.  My seeds came from Andrey Baranovski of Belarus.  Russian spelling is Безразмерный which translates to “Dimensionless”, a very appropriate name.  A couple of others are growing well.  One very promising 6X+ was overcome by blossom end rot and had to be removed:

Bezrazmernyi 6X blossom end rot D

There are at least 3 tomatoes still growing that are likely to surpass 2.5 lbs. as well

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

August 14th – Heavy rains this morning so I picked three more big tomatoes, all over two pounds.

Epstein’s Potato Leaf (2.198 DT 2014), tracked from early on, measurements, with DAF put it at 2.101 lb.

First picture from July 6th already showed splitting and scarring:

 

Epstein's PL 3X blossom SL D rev

August 10th:

Epstein's PL TB A-001 SL 8-10-2014 B Preying Mantis rev

August 14th:

Epstein's Potato Leaf (2.198 DT 2014) A rev Epstein's Potato Leaf (2.198 DT 2014) C rev

MegaMarv (2.086 DT 2014)(4.23 Wahl 2012), not tracked, measures to 2.019 lb. with DAF.

MegaMarv (2.086 DT 2014)(4.23 Wahl 2012) E rev MegaMarv (2.086 DT 2014)(4.23 Wahl 2012) C rev

August 16 – very good, moderately rich, balanced, classic flavor; score = 8.0; also consumed in short order…

MegaMarv (2.086 DT 2014)(4.23 Wahl 2012) I rev

And

MegaMarv (2.346 DT 2014)(4.23 Wahl 2012), not tracked, measures to 2.262 lb. with DAF.

MegaMarv (2.346 DT 2014)(4.23 Wahl 2012) B rev MegaMarv (2.346 DT 2014)(4.23 Wahl 2012) D rev

 

MegaMarv (2.346 DT 2014)(4.23 Wahl 2012) L

That’s how a tomato ought to fit into a sandwich!

MegaMarv (2.346 DT 2014)(4.23 Wahl 2012) I rev

Note that both of these MegaMarv specimens appear to derive from single blossoms!  In my experience, MegaMarv rarely produces impressive megablooms, but single blossoms are capable of producing very large tomatoes.  This one is a prime candidate for cross-breeding with a reliable producer of megablooms, such as Big Zac (OP) or Michael’s Portuguese Monster – a work in progress!

= = = = = = = = = = = = =

August 15th update

Another one, not tracked -

Shuntukski Velikan (2.190 DT 2012)(1.978 DT 2012)

Shuntukski Velikan (2.190 DT 2014) 8-15-2014 FShuntukski Velikan (2.190 DT 2014) 8-15-2014 G

Another variety that occasionally produces huge fruit, though they are typically flattened.

There are at least 9 tomatoes on the vine now that measure to 2+ pounds, three of these to > 2.5 lbs.

So far in 2014, all tracked tomatoes have been harvested mostly ripe between 36-42 days after fruit set.  Weather has been much more favorable in 2014 than in the previous four years that I’ve been trying to grow giant tomatoes.

= = = = = = = = = = =

August 16th update

Another two pounder, not tracked, noticed for the first time just a few days ago at the bottom of the vine, tracking a smaller one higher on the vine.

Cleota Pink (2.088)(2.108 DT 2011)

Cleota Pink (2.088 DT 2014)(2.108 DT 2011) A rev

Probably could have waited a couple of days on this one.

Later – a beautiful tomato when ripe on August 19th:

Cleota Pink (2.088 DT 2014)(2.108 DT 2011) J Cleota Pink (2.088 DT 2014)(2.108 DT 2011) F rev

Note the very hollow seed locules.  Flavor was mild, little sweetness, score 5.5, but not a fair assessment as it was not vine ripened.

= = = = = = = = = = =

August 17th update

Delicious (2.828 DT 2014)(6.51 Meisner 2011)

Not tracked, did not even notice it until it was well over 1 lb.  Was hoping to hit 3 lbs. but didn’t quite make it.  Estimate from caliper measurements?  2.830 !  Cannot get much closer than that! Harvested early because an 8X fruit has set on this vine and is trying to grow big…

Delicious (2.828 DT 2014)(6.51 Meisner 2011) A rev Delicious (2.828 DT 2014)(6.51 Meisner 2011) B

It’s been much warmer the last 3 days or so and lots of tomatoes are ripening quickly, including a few more that will likely top 2 lbs.

= = = = = = = = = =

August 18th update

Virginia Sweets (2.024 DT 2014)(2.218 DT 2011)

Not tracked.  Caliper estimates put it at 2.058 lbs. This variety won first place in the 2011 Delectation of Tomatoes tasting contest.

Virginia Sweets (2.024 DT 2014) C rev Virginia Sweets (2.024 DT 2014) B rev

Virginia Sweets (2.024 DT 2014) M rev Virginia Sweets (2.024 DT 2014) J

Absolutely delicious – sweet, fruity and juicy – contest winner in 2011 tomato tasting event.

And the first 3-pounder of the season!  My third largest ever:

Delicious (3.012 DT 2014)(6.51 Meisner 2011)

Not tracked, caliper measurements put it at 3.087 lbs.  I’ve grown this line of Delicious for three previous years and could not even manage 2 lbs.  This particular seed might just have the “Big DNA” that the others did not.

Delicious (3.012 DT 2014)(6.51 Meisner 2011) D rev Delicious (3.012 DT 2014)(6.51 Meisner 2011) A

Counting this one, the 2.828 from yesterday, and the other six thinned out today, that comes to 9.656 lbs. removed from this vine to make room for this little 8X on a sucker that got away from me:

Delicious (6.51 Meisner 2011) TB A-002 8-18-2014 B rev

It measures to only 0.173 lbs., yet despite having theses two 3-pounders and another 4 lbs. of multi-lobed tomatoes growing on the vine, this one is still showing real potential.

I’ve also committed radical pruning and thinning on several other tomato vines in anticipation of the local weigh-off 33 days away.  Perhaps one of these smaller tomatoes will “blow up” now that all competitors have been removed?

= = = = = = = = = =

August 19th update

Big Zac (2.024 DT 2014)(2.962 DT 2012)

Not tracked, thinned to make room for a larger, faster growing tomato higher up on the vine.  Measured to 1.908 lbs. Note that DAF is 0.90 for green tomatoes.

Big Zac (2.024 DT 2014)(2.962 DT 2012) A

Big Zac (2.024 DT 2014)(2.962 DT 2012) B

And another that looked like it had a shot at 3 lbs.:

Domingo (2.734 DT 2014)(4.55 Wahl 2012)

Unfortunately, it was oozing badly from old wounds and splitting, so I harvested it only partly ripe.  It measures to 2.806 lbs.  There is another Domingo in the high tunnel that is growing very well, measuring to 2.10 lbs. at just 26 days along.  With the weather cooling some, it just might have a chance of going well over 3 lbs.

Domingo (2.734 DT 2014)(4.55 Wahl 2012) B rev Domingo (2.734 DT 2014)(4.55 Wahl 2012) A

The streak of at least one 2-pounder harvested every day is showing no signs of abating!  Just might have another 3-pounder tomorrow – measures to 3.02 today.

= = = = = = = = = = =

August 20th update

Only one really big one harvested today:

Donskoi (3.108 DT 2014)(1.866 DT 2012)

Biggest of the year so far!  This one was tracked since July 19th.  Harvested at 46 days after fruit set, 85% ripe with some oozing.  Measurements with calipers put it at 3.065 lb.; with taped circumferences at 3.141 lbs.

Donskoi (3.108 DT 2014)(1.866 DT 2012) B Donskoi (3.108 DT 2014)(1.866 DT 2012) D rev Donskoi (3.108 DT 2014)(1.866 DT 2012) N rev

Donskoi (3.108 DT 2014)(1.866 DT 2012) T

Eaten on August 21st.  We had guests.  The question was asked, “do these big tomatoes really taste very good?”  I was almost embarrassed to serve this one because I did not know how it would taste, and to be honest, it didn’t look very appetizing.  But it ripened fully on the vine so I served it.  We were all very impressed and pleasantly surprised!  I scored it 9.0 of 10.

An initial burst of bright, juicy, robust, pleasant flavor, followed shortly by a distinctive sweetness, not overpowering but just right and lingering pleasantly.  Like Dester, the flesh itself is sweet.  Three pounds wasn’t big enough for what we wanted to eat of this one – a real keeper!!

So here are my four biggest of the year so far, with a combined weight of 11.682 lbs.!

Giant Tomatoes (11.682 for 4 DT 2014) B

= = = = = = = = = =

August 21st update

Four 2+ pounders harvested today, none of them tracked.

Chilo della Garfagnana (2.100 DT 2014)(3.375 Koshykar 2012)

Calipers put it at 2.099 lb., taped CC’s at 2.237:

Chilo della Garfagnana (2.100 DT 2014)(3.375 Koshykar 2012) B rev Chilo della Garfagnana (2.100 DT 2014)(3.375 Koshykar 2012) A rev

Russian (2.136 DT 2014)(2.319 DT 2010)

Calipers put it at 2.197 lb., taped CC’s at 2.131:

Russian (2.136 DT 2014)(2.319 DT 2010) A rev Russian (2.136 DT 2014)(2.319 DT 2010) B rev

West Virginia Sweet Meat (2.100 DT 2014)(1.806 DT 2012)

Calipers put it at 2.047 lb., taped CC’s at 2.147:

West Virginia Sweet Meat (2.100 DT 2014)(1.806 DT 2012) D rev West Virginia Sweet Meat (2.100 DT 2014)(1.806 DT 2012) A rev

West Virginia Sweet Meat (2.206 DT 2014)(1.806 DT 2012)

Calipers put it at 2.041 lb., taped CC’s at 2.059:

West Virginia Sweet Meat (2.206 DT 2014)(1.806 DT 2012) C rev West Virginia Sweet Meat (2.206 DT 2014)(1.806 DT 2012) A rev

These last two and other small fruits on the same vine were cleared out to make room for:

West Virginia Sweet Meat A-02 8-21-2014 D rev

Much larger, looking like it could go over 3 lbs.; also not tracked.

= = = = = = = = = =

August 22nd update -

Polish Giant Beefsteak (2.452 DT 2014)(2.222 DT 2013)

Tracked since July 10th, harvested at 47 days after pollination – several days longer than most varieties.  Measures to 2.521 lbs. with calipers, 2.691 with tape measure.  It’s got a significant depression in the bottom.

From a 3X+ blossom, June 29th:

Polish Giant Beefsteak (2.222 DT 2013) 3X blossom 6-29-2014 D

August 22nd:

Polish Giant Beefsteak (2.452 DT 2014)(2.222 DT 2013) B

Polish Giant Beefsteak (2.452 DT 2014)(2.222 DT 2013) H Polish Giant Beefsteak (2.452 DT 2014)(2.222 DT 2013) C

= = = = = = = = = =

August 23rd update -

Delicious (2.314 DT 2014)(4.78 Lorson 2012)

Not tracked.  Measurements from calipers puts it at 2.217; from taped CC’s, 2.384:

Delicious (2.314 DT 2014)(4.78 Lorson 2012) A

Delicious (2.314 DT 2014)(4.78 Lorson 2012) B

= = = = = = = = = =

August 24th update -

Church (2.372 DT 2.014)(3.208 DT 2012)

Not tracked, calipers put it at 2.295 lbs., taped CC’s at 2.343:

Church (2.372 DT 2.014)(3.208 DT 2012) C rev Church (2.372 DT 2.014)(3.208 DT 2012) A

= = = = = = = = = =

August 25th Update -

Only one 2+ pounder harvested today:

Michael’s Portuguese Monster (3.754 DT 2014)(2.610 DT 2012)

Michael's Portuguese Monster (3.754 DT 2014)(2.610 DT 2012) ZK rev

Much more about this one at:

How Big Will That Tomato Get?

= = = = = = = = = =
August 26th Update -

Three over 2 lbs.

Rhode Island Giant (2.006 DT 2014)(1.934 DT 2013)

Calipers put it at 1.853, taped CC’s at 2.125.  This variety is distinctive in that it produces only 1 or 2 blossoms per truss.

Rhode Island Giant (2.006 DT 2014)(1.924 DT 2012) C rev

Domingo (2.288 DT 2014)(4.55 Wahl 2012)

Calipers put it at 2.227, taped CC’s at 2.341.

Domingo (2.288 DT 2014)(4.55 Wahl 2012) E rev

Domingo (2.530 DT 2014)(4.55 Wahl 2012)

Calipers put it at 2.497, taped CC’s at 2.652.  This makes 3 Domingo specimens that were growing on the same vine simultaneously that reached weights of well over 2 lbs. – these two plus 2.734 harvested 1 week ago.  Not counting several smaller ones.

Domingo (2.528 DT 2014)(4.55 Wahl 2012) D rev

I will be gone for a few days so this streak of harvesting at least one 2-pound tomato every day will come to an end at 25 specimens in 14 days.  Far better than I’ve every managed before.  Blame it on the weather, I say.

Between June 01 – August 25, 2013 there were 2,647 growing degree days (GDD)

Between June 01 – August 25, 2014 there were 2,181 GDD

Though this is a strong contrast, the number of days reaching 95+ degrees is even more meaningful from a tomato growing perspective:

2013: 75 days over 86° including 50 days over 95° F

2014: 53 days over 86° including 19 days over 95° F

With tomato plants, and presumably the fruits themselves, growth begins to slow markedly at 86° F and essentially shuts down above 95°.

= = = = = = = = = = =

August 30th update -

16.302 lbs. for 6 tomatoes!

Big Tomatoes 8-30-2014 C

Brutus Magnum (2.386 DT 2014)(2.006 DT 2012)

Not tracked.  Calipers put it at 2.293 lb., taped CC’s at 2.594.

Brutus Magnum (2.386 DT 2014)(2.006 DT 2012) E rev

Brutus Magnum (2.386 DT 2014)(2.006 DT 2012) C rev

Two very large tomatoes harvested from the same Big Zac vine, 3.75 Catapano.  This seed line is noteworthy since it is a sibling of 3.9 Catapano 2007, from which virtually all documented 4+ lb. Big Zac specimens of the past 5 years trace their ancestry.

Big Zac (2.394 DT 2014)(3.75 Catapano 2007)

Not tracked.  Calipers put it at 2.211 lb., taped CC’s at 2.391.

Big Zac (2.394 DT 2014)(3.75 Catapano 2007) D rev

Big Zac (2.394 DT 2014)(3.75 Catapano 2007) A rev

Big Zac (2.628 DT 2014)(3.75 Catapano 2007)

Not tracked.  Calipers put it at 2.677 lb., taped CC’s at 2.637 (both estimates within 2%).

Big Zac (2.628 DT 2014)(3.75 Catapano 2007) B rev

Big Zac (2.628 DT 2014)(3.75 Catapano 2007) E rev

Oxheart Giantissimo (2.624 DT 2014)(2.294 DT 2011)

Tracked since July 20th, harvested fully ripe about 48 days since fruit set. Impressive growth for the first 3 weeks then growth slowed noticeably.  Calipers put it at 2.821 lb., taped CC’s at 3.154.  Some hollow seed locules and lobing, but still well below projection.  Very good, soothing, balanced flavor; 7.5 of 10.

Oxheart Giantissimo (2.624 DT 2014)(2.294 DT 2011) Brev Oxheart Giantissimo (2.624 DT 2014)(2.294 DT 2011) I rev

Now for one I was REALLY hoping would go over 3 lbs., as it is a SIBLING OF THE NEW WORLD RECORD.

Big Zac (2.958 DT 2014)(4.57 MacCoy 2013)

Tracked since July 10th, a clear 3X with deep lobing, harvested fully ripe 52 days from fruit set (wish they would all last this long on the vine).  Calipers put it at 2.952 lb., taped CC’s at 3.107.  Seeds should be ready by September 20th or so.

Big Zac (2.958 DT 2014)(4.57 MacCoy 2013) D rev Big Zac (2.958 DT 2014)(4.57 MacCoy 2013) F

And last but certainly not least, the third largest tomato I’ve ever grown:

West Virginia Sweetmeat (3.312 DT 2014)(1.806 DT 2012)

Not tracked, as I never really expected this one to get so large!  Previously harvested several good sized tomatoes off this vine.  So I think with proper care, this very delicious variety has a real chance of going 4 lbs. plus.  Calipers put it at 3.023 lb., taped CC’s at 3.354.  Shape is more cuboidal then ovoid, which may explain why caliper measurements projected so far under actual weight.  A beautiful specimen which I’ve had my eye on for weeks!  Very good flavor, but not as sweet as I recall some previous specimens.

West Virginia Sweetmeat (3.312 DT 2014)(1.806 DT 2012) H rev West Virginia Sweetmeat (3.312 DT 2014)(1.806 DT 2012) B rev

West Virginia Sweetmeat (3.312 DT 2014)(1.806 DT 2012) J rev

Not through with 2 pounders – or 3 pounders yet!  Another Big Zac, 48 days along, with no hint of ripening yet, measures to just over 4 lbs.  It is deeply lobed so estimated weight will likely not be very close to reality.

Then there is this solid, minimally lobed specimen that measures to 3.49 lbs. at 37 days along and still very green and growing fast!

Domingo (4.55 Wahl 2012) HT A-002:

Domingo (4.55 Wahl 2012) HT A-002 8-30-2014 C

On August 11th these two promising tomatoes removed to divert resources to the one shown above:

Domingo (4.55 Wahl 2012) HT A-002 culls 8-11-2014 B

Domingo has been a very impressive variety this year and this one may be my best chances at cracking that 4 lb. barrier.

= = = = = = = = = = =

August 31st update -

Brutus Magnum (2.152 DT 2014)(2.006 DT 2012)

Not tracked (actually not even noticed until a week or so ago) and harvested fully ripe from the same vine as the 2.386 specimen profiled above.  Calipers put it at 2.211 lb., taped CC’s at 2.153 – both remarkably close considering the heavy ruffling.

Brutus Magnum (2.152 DT 2014)(2.006 DT 2012) B rev Brutus Magnum (2.152 DT 2014)(2.006 DT 2012) D rev

= = = = = = = = = = =

September 1st update -

Sumo (2.674)(1.782 DT 2012)

This one was very impressive from the beginning!  Measurements and pictures taken since July 20th.  Harvested at about 50 days after fruit set.  Measures to 3.243 lbs. with calipers, 2.960 with taped CC’s.  Diameter measurements in particular are not working real well when a tomato has lots of knobs and deep crevices.

Recorded as emerging from an 8X megabloom. Picture on 7-19-2014:

Sumo (1.782 DT 2012) HT002 7-19-2014 C rev

And today:

Sumo (2.674)(1.782 DT 2012) A

Sumo (2.674)(1.782 DT 2012) C rev

Sumo (2.674)(1.782 DT 2012) F

Here’s what the parent looked like, Sumo (1.782 DT 2012):

Sumo (1.782 DT 2012) E rev

An apt name for a hefty, ruffled variety!  Developed by Fred Bruns of Carmel, Indiana from a cross between Enormous Plum and Florida Pink.

Now for one that was growing very fast and on target to exceed 3 lbs.:

Polish Giant Beefsteak (2.222 DT 2013) TB A-01

This plant was very slow to get going but is growing very well.  Only one tomato from over 1,600 vines in 2013 produced a fruit over 2 lbs., and this is the offspring of that tomato.

Here it was on August 15th:

Polish Giant Beefsteak (2.222 DT 2013) TB A-01 8-15-2014  A

And on August 30th, gaining an average of 0.13 lbs. per day, getting hopes very high:

Polish Giant Beefsteak (2.222 DT 2013) TB A-01 8-30-2014 E rev

Observed again late on August 31st, then early on September 1st:

Polish Giant Beefsteak (2.222 DT 2013) TB A-01 9-1-2014 stolen B

That’s what I get for growing tomatoes next to a busy sidewalk.  I can almost understand stealing a big, red ripe tomato if a kid were really hungry.  But a big, green, gnarly thing?  I have buckets of green tomatoes I’ll be glad to give away if they are really THAT hungry…

= = = = = = = = = = =

September 2nd update -

Big Zac (2.090 DT 2014)(__ Johnson 2013)(5.12 Daho 2012)

Variety name also listed as “Daho Giant” after Mehdi Daho of L’etoile-Spay, France who has grown several tomatoes to over 5 lbs. and previously held the record for largest tomato in both France and Europe.

Not tracked; harvested 45% ripe.  Calipers put it at 2.091 lb., taped CC’s at 2.109.

Big Zac (2.090 DT 2014)(__ Johnson 2013)(5.12 Daho 2012) A rev

Big Zac (2.090 DT 2014)(__ Johnson 2013)(5.12 Daho 2012) D rev

 

 

 

 

Delayed Fruit Set of Tomato Megablooms

Here is an update of the June 29th post, “Megablooms in Abundance” where 15 megablooms in the backyard high tunnel were profiled. Pollen was extremely hard to come by for the week after those megablooms opened, so not a single one was fully pollinated. Most shriveled and died. A few just froze in time then weeks later began to grow, though rather slowly.

Polish Giant Beefsteak (2.222 DT 2013): Sepals alive, zero growth of tomato
Big Zac (3.486 DT 2012)(3.94 Pennington 2010)(7.18 Harp 2009): Gone – shriveled up and died
Russian (2.319 DT 2010): Tomato growing slowly, about 0.3 lb. now:
Russian  megabloom setting fruit 8-10-2014 A rev

Domingo (4.55 Wahl 2012): Sepals alive, zero growth of tomato
Big Zac (4.57 MacCoy 2013)(5.07 Boudyo 2010): Sepals alive, zero growth of tomato
Chilo della Garfagnana (3.375 Koshykar 2012): Gone – shriveled up and died
Omar’s Lebanese (1.724 DT 2010): Sepals alive, zero growth of tomato
Belmonte (1.556 DT 2011)(4.14 Perry 2009): Tomato growing slowly, about 0.4 lb. now:

Belmonte  megabloom setting fruit 7-31-2014 C rev

Brutus Magnum (2.006 DT 2012)(6.25 Meisner 2011): Gone – shriveled up and died
Big Zac (3.75 Catapano 2007)(4.59 Lyons 2006): Sepals alive, zero growth of tomato
Leadbeatter’s Lunker (1.644 DT 2012)(4.905 Leadbeatter 2012): Sepals alive, zero growth of tomato
Epstein’s Potato Leaf (__Johnson 2012)(Big Zac derivative): Gone – shriveled up and died
Rebecca Sebastian’s Bull Bag (2.200 DT 2010): Gone – shriveled up and died
Porterhouse (F2)(2.062 DT 2011): Tomato growing slowly, about 0.5 lb. now:

Porterhouse megabloom setting fruit 8-01-2014 G rev

Michael’s Portuguese Monster (2.610 DT 2012): Was growing slowly, removed for much larger, faster growing tomato on a higher truss; see post “How Big Will That Tomato Get?”  Last pic taken, 0.112 lb.:

Michael's Portuguese Monster (0.112 DT 2014)(2.610 DT 2012) L

Since pollination was so poor, it is doubtful that any of these will have a significant number of seeds when they ripen.

I have observed this phenomenon several times before:  a large megabloom opens up gloriously, gets little or no pollination, then stagnates, alive for weeks, then starts slowly growing; “Delayed Fruit Set”.  These have never grown large for me in the past, but some have hung on for 80+ days before ripening.  This phenomenon is the reason I use the term “Days after Fruit Set” rather than “Days after Pollination” as is common practice.  Unless I can see a little green tomato, at least the size of a pea and growing, I don’t starting counting or measuring for the purpose of tracking growth rates etc.

How Big Will That Tomato Get?

Based upon fruit dimension data collected every day for 102 days on my largest tomato to date (Big Zac (3.486 DT 2012)), I developed a polynomial formula which fits the data very well for the first 50 days.

Y = 0.0052X + 0.0034X^2 – 0.00004X^3

Where X = Number of days since fruit set and Y = Weight of tomato

This formula produces a shallow sigmoidal curve, with the cubic term accounting largely for the substantial slowing of growth as the tomato approaches ripe stage. R^2 for this formula is 0.9986, so it is a very tight fit – at least for a 3-1/2 lb. tomato grown in the Salt Lake Valley from 25 August to 06 December 2012.

So what would such a formula look like for a tomato that reaches 8 lbs. by day 50? Well, it’s conjecture of course, but assuming the growth curve would have a similar shape, I propose something like:

Y = 0.009X + 0.00577X^2 – 0.000055X^3

Around here, tomatoes ripen in 36-42 days during the heat of summer, but I’ve recorded 50+ days on occasion; 70+ days is a very real possibility for those that set fruit from late August to mid-September.

Currently, the fastest growing tomato remains the 8X (up to 14X?) Michael’s Portuguese monster, now measuring to 0.868 lb.:

Michael's Portuguese Monster (2.610 DT 2012) HT001 7-25-2014 B rev Michael's Portuguese Monster (2.610 DT 2012) HT001 7-25-2014 D rev

To be on target for 8 lbs., it would need to weigh about 0.970 lb. at this point.  It’s already a day behind schedule!  Prediction is rarely an exact science, at least not in the realm of biology, and weights are best estimates only.  But my largest from 2012 weighed only 0.302 lbs. at this point!

OK, here we go! An unwritten goal is only a wish, so I’ve decided to boldly publish daily goals for this tomato. Based upon the formula written in bold above, following is a list of daily target weights (TW), followed by estimated weights (EW) taken from caliper measurements.  First column is days since fruit set (DS).

DS —- Date —- TW —- EW

1 —- 13 July —- 0.015 —-
2 —- 14 July —- 0.041 —-
3 —- 15 July —- 0.077 —-
4 —- 16 July —- 0.12 —-
5 —- 17 July —- 0.18 —-
6 —- 18 July —- 0.25 —-
7 —- 19 July —- 0.33 —- 0.13
8 —- 20 July —- 0.41 —-?
9 —- 21 July —- 0.51 —- 0.27
10 —- 22 July —- 0.61 —-?
11 —- 23 July —- 0.72 —- 0.57
12 —- 24 July —- 0.84 —-?
13 —- 25 July —- 0.97 —- 0.87
14 —- 26 July —- 1.11 —- 1.02
15 —- 27 July —- 1.25 —- 1.18
16 —- 28 July —- 1.40 —- 1.26
17 —- 29 July —- 1.55 —- 1.46 – see pic below
18 —- 30 July —- 1.71 —- 1.67 – this is 2.6 times larger than any tomato I’ve measured at 18 days
19 —- 31 July —- 1.88 —- 1.79
20 —- 01 Aug —- 2.05 —- 1.93
21 —- 02 Aug —- 2.22 —- 2.11 – see latest pics below. My previous largest measured to 0.67 lb. at this stage and took 41 days to reach this size.
22 —- 03 Aug —- 2.41 —- 2.25
23 —- 04 Aug —- 2.59 —- 2.28
24 —- 05 Aug —- 2.78 —- 2.55
25 —- 06 Aug —- 2.97 —- 2.73
26 —- 07 Aug —- 3.17 —- 2.89
27 —- 08 Aug —- 3.37 —- 2.91
28 —- 09 Aug —- 3.57 —- 2.93
29 —- 10 Aug —- 3.77 —- 3.08 – obviously slowing down. Latest pic below
30 —- 11 Aug —- 3.98 —- 3.18 – still 2.5 times larger than my biggest was at 30 days
31 —- 12 Aug —- 4.19 —- 3.29 – between days 11-26 gain was 0.16 lbs./day avg.; only 0.08 since
32 —- 13 Aug —- 4.39 —- 3.34
33 —- 14 Aug —- 4.60 —- 3.56 – on target for 4.5 to 5.0 lb. range, if it lasts until 50 days
34 —- 15 Aug —- 4.81 —- 3.70
35 —- 16 Aug —- 5.03 —- 3.82 – FIRST BLUSH; not going to get 50 days out of this one!  Expect shrinkage over the next 3 days as starches are converted to sugars and fruit density increases, then  brief and minor growth until fully ripe and at its heaviest.  Looks like even 4 lbs. might be a long shot.
36 —- 17 Aug —- 5.24 —- 3.98 – Ripening very fast; with so many bumps and crevices  I’ll probably need to subtract about 15% to get a weight estimate close to reality.  Possibility of breaking through the 4 lb. barrier is fading but still a good chance at breaking the Utah state record.
37 —- 18 Aug —- 5.45 —- 3.91 – Taped circumference = 20.9″, latest pics below
38 —- 19 Aug —- 5.66 —- 4.17 – Much cooler weather in the forecast, perhaps it will last another 6 days?
39 —- 20 Aug —- 5.86 —- 4.37 – Also indirectly weighed this tomato using a water displacement method and came up with 4.07 lbs.; see pics below.
40 —- 21 Aug —- 6.07 —- 4.66 – Now that it is fully ripe, switched to a DAF (Density Adjustment Factor) of 0.95 rather than 0.90, but this estimate is probably at least 1/2 pound heavy; Official weigh-off for a new state record set for Monday, 8-25 at 9:00 a.m.; latest pics below.
41 —- 22 Aug —- 6.28 —- 4.70 – Gave it one last very heavy dose of fish emulsion, seaweed extract, etc. hoping to coax a couple more ounces out of it over the weekend.
42 —- 23 Aug —- 6.48 —- 4.75 – Taped circumference = 21.7″
43 —- 24 Aug —- 6.68 —- 4.78 – Discussion and final pics below
44 —- 25 Aug —- 6.88 —- 3.754 lb. OFFICIAL CERTIFIED WEIGHT; pics etc. below
45 —- 26 Aug —- 7.08 —-
46 —- 27 Aug —- 7.27 —-
47 —- 28 Aug —- 7.46 —-
48 —- 29 Aug —- 7.64 —-
49 —- 30 Aug —- 7.82 —-
50 —- 31 Aug —- 8.01 —-

I will fill in this table periodically.  In an effort to encourage this tomato to catch up to the schedule, I’ve applied 10 gallons of my best compost – which is loaded with red wriggler worms! – to the surface, hoping the tomato roots will grow up into it and extract the necessary nutrients needed to reach 8 lbs.  I then covered this with grass clippings so the entire mound is about 8″ deep against the main stem, then tapering out.

Compost with Red Wriggler worms D

Compost with Red Wriggler worms E rev

New pic, 7-29-2014, 17 days since fruit set and about 1.46 lb.:

Michael's Portuguese Monster (2.610 DT 2012) HT001 7-29-2014 B rev

Latest pics, 8-2-2014, 21 days since fruit set, about 2.11 lb.:

Michael's Portuguese Monster (2.610 DT 2012) HT001 8-02-2014 A rev

Michael's Portuguese Monster (2.610 DT 2012) HT001 8-02-2014 F rev

Latest pic, 8-10-2014, 29 days since fruit set, about 3.08 lbs.  Sling is big enough and strong enough to hold a bowling ball!  Note the new digital calipers.  These will measure to 12″ diameter and are precise to 0.01mm.  Widest diameter needs to get to at least 240mm to have any hope of hitting 8 lbs.!

Michael's Portuguese Monster (2.610 DT 2012) HT001 8-10-2014 B rev

Latest pics, 8-18-2014, 37 days since fruit set, measures to 3.91 lbs., CC = 20.9″, very unlikely to break 4 lbs.

Michael's Portuguese Monster (2.610 DT 2012) HT001 8-18-2014 D Michael's Portuguese Monster (2.610 DT 2012) HT001 8-18-2014 K

Latest pics, 8-20, showing indirect weighing with a water displacement method.  The fruit displaced 1,945 g of water, with some error because the stem prevented full immersion.  After adjusting for the specific gravity of a ripe tomato of 0.95 (based upon water displacement weights I’ve recorded on >800 tomatoes of all sizes, shapes and maturity levels), this comes to 4.074 lbs.

Michael's Portuguese Monster (2.610 DT 2012) HT001 8-20-2014 water displacement A Michael's Portuguese Monster (2.610 DT 2012) HT001 8-20-2014 water displacement B

This gives me more confidence than estimates from either caliper (4.373) or tape (4.054) measurements and some real hope that I might finally bust through that 4 lb. barrier!  Tentatively scheduled for official and certified weighing on Monday, August 25th for submission to the GPC (Great Pumpkin Commonwealth).

Latest pics. 8-20.  Weigh-off scheduled for 8-25 at 9:00 a.m.  No significant cracks or wounds so hopefully it will last until then.

Michael's Portuguese Monster (2.610 DT 2012) HT001 8-21-2014 D rev Michael's Portuguese Monster (2.610 DT 2012) HT001 8-21-2014 C rev

Latest pics 8-22

Comparison with Delicious (3.012 DT 2014)(6.51 Meisner 2011):

Michael's Portuguese Monster (2.610 DT 2012) HT001 8-22-2014 D Michael's Portuguese Monster (2.610 DT 2012) HT001 8-22-2014 E Michael's Portuguese Monster (2.610 DT 2012) HT001 8-22-2014 F

It’s definitely wider in all three dimensions: 185.7 X 159.0 X 143.8 vs. 171.8 X 145.9 X 112.3 mm, particularly in height.  However, is it actually 33% heavier?  Hard to say from pictures.  The Delicious specimen is very solid and filled out, with minimal lobing or crevices.

Confirming that roots have grown into the compost, though only in modest numbers.  And red wigglers continue to thrive.  Final boost of nutrients added today, though with less than 3 days left and the tomato already ripe, they may not have much of an effect.

Michael's Portuguese Monster (2.610 DT 2012) HT001 8-22-2014 worms and roots C rev

Michael's Portuguese Monster (2.610 DT 2012) HT001 8-22-2014 worms and roots F

August 24th

Final pictures before harvesting for official weighing in the morning -

Michael's Portuguese Monster (2.610 DT 2012) HT001 8-23-2014 B rev Michael's Portuguese Monster (2.610 DT 2012) HT001 8-23-2014 A rev

Caliper measurements put it at 4.780 lbs.

Taped circumference measurements put it at 4.457 lbs.

Both of these are unrealistically high, as this specimen is riddled with crevices, bumps and gaps.  I was badly burned a couple of years ago projecting a weight that was almost 1 pound too high for a tomato with deep crevices, etc.  The best I can do is apply a Geometry Adjustment Factor (GAF) as a “cheat” to get a better estimate.  I’ve used GAF’s in my weight prediction formulas for tomatoes that are deeply lobed, flattened, or otherwise oddly shaped.  For this specimen I assign a GAF of 2 for lobing, bumps, etc.  For each GAF score I take off 5% from the projected weight, so 10% total.

Thus for a more realistic prediction of weight I’ll use taped CC’s and 10% off for GAF

4.457 X 0.90 = 4.011 lbs., or 4 lbs. 0.18 oz., or 1.820 kg.

Prediction for official weight:  4.011 lbs.

= = = = = =

August 25, 2014

NEW UTAH STATE RECORD

3.754 lbs.

Michael’s Portuguese Monster (3.754 DT 2014)(2.610 DT 2012)

Off by 1/4 pound.  Better estimate than last time, but still disappointing.  Got a long ways to go to really get into the BIG League.

Weighed in at the Utah Division of Weights and Measures, witnessed and certified by officials with responsibility for certifying all commercials scales in the state.

Michael's Portuguese Monster (3.754 DT 2014)(2.610 DT 2012) B

Michael's Portuguese Monster (3.754 DT 2014)(2.610 DT 2012) E rev

Thurber, Tomato, Michael's Portuguese Monster (3.754 DT 2014)(2.602 DT 2012) GPC Entry Form

Small kitchen scales are very close:

Michael's Portuguese Monster (3.754 DT 2014)(2.610 DT 2012) ZS rev

Other views:

Michael's Portuguese Monster (3.754 DT 2014)(2.610 DT 2012) ZN rev Michael's Portuguese Monster (3.754 DT 2014)(2.610 DT 2012) ZJ rev Michael's Portuguese Monster (3.754 DT 2014)(2.610 DT 2012) ZI rev Michael's Portuguese Monster (3.754 DT 2014)(2.610 DT 2012) ZH rev

Size perspective:

Michael's Portuguese Monster (3.754 DT 2014)(2.610 DT 2012) ZOrev

Relative density (compared to water) calculated at 0.900:

Michael's Portuguese Monster (3.754 DT 2014)(2.610 DT 2012) I Michael's Portuguese Monster (3.754 DT 2014)(2.610 DT 2012) K

Weights of two wet but empty buckets above; demonstration of immersion and water displacement calculation below:

Michael's Portuguese Monster (3.754 DT 2014)(2.610 DT 2012) S

Michael's Portuguese Monster (3.754 DT 2014)(2.610 DT 2012) Y

Larger bucket weighed 5.172 lbs. with displaced water.  Empty it was 1.000 lb.  Therefore 4.172 lbs. of water was displaced.  3.754/4.172 = 0.900, which is the density relative to water.  Though there is a modest variance, I expected (or at least hoped) this tomato to be closer to the average density of large ripe tomatoes which is 0.95, based on similar calculations from > 800 tomatoes over the years.  If the density had been 0.95, this one would have weighed 3.962 lbs. with this volume of water displaced.

This tomato was at the peak of ripeness.  But all the rough handling compromised the integrity so I cut it up and 5 of us gorged ourselves on delicious tomato sandwiches.  Flavor score = 8.5 of 10 – a very nice, sweet and lively flavor – much better than one might expect from such a monster!

Michael's Portuguese Monster (3.754 DT 2014)(2.610 DT 2012) ZUrev

Seeds are now fermenting and should be available within two weeks from:

DT SEEDS

Michael's Portuguese Monster (3.754 DT 2014)(2.610 DT 2012) ZVrev

Here are charts showing a fairly stable growth rate after about 12 days.  Note that growth slowed minimally during the last week of ripening.  Many growers pick at first blush, but in my experience, the slight contraction in size only lasts for a day or two, then growth continues while ripening occurs, and ripe tomatoes are simply more dense than green ones.

Michael's Portuguese Monster (3.754 DT 2014)(2.610 DT 2012) ZZB Michael's Portuguese Monster (3.754 DT 2014)(2.610 DT 2012) ZZA

Stay tuned – this vine is not finished yet – let’s see how it’s younger sibling grows now that this BIG one is out of the way!

A bit of media coverage in the local paper

Salt Lake Tribune – Utah’s Record Tomato

And on the Local NPR radio station

KUER – Record Tomato

 

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

I finally got up the nerve to cull the growing 8X on the next truss down – the one with 30 sepals and profiled as the most promising megabloom on June 30th.  This one was growing at a modest pace and looked like it had HUGE potential, but I don’t see how it could ever catch up to the one above it and, in theory, it is taking resources away from the larger tomato.  So here it is, the hardest tomato I’ve ever had to cull:

Michael's Portuguese Monster (0.112 DT 2014)(2.610 DT 2012) E Michael's Portuguese Monster (0.112 DT 2014)(2.610 DT 2012) L Michael's Portuguese Monster (0.112 DT 2014)(2.610 DT 2012) C Michael's Portuguese Monster (0.112 DT 2014)(2.610 DT 2012) B

Note the very flattened pedicle. The scale’s platform is 5″ across.  Fully stretched, sepals span 6-1/4″.  Weight was only 0.112 lb. after growing for about three weeks.

There are at least two other tomatoes that have started to grow from those megablooms profiled on June 30th, but they are growing even more slowly.

One other tomato growing at a very good pace is a 6X on a Big Zac (2.602 DT 2012) vine.  It weighs only about 0.2 lbs. and is just a few days along – we’ll see if it can keep up it’s rapid growth.

Glass Gem corn stalks are doing very well this year!  Planted on April 30th in the best soil in a raised bed in the backyard garden, first tassels were observed on July 3rd and stalks are in full pollination mode now.  Though perhaps planted too close together, tallest stalk now measures 10′ 3″ tall!

Glass Gem Corn Stalks 10'3in 7-25-2014 E rev

Parsnip tops also got very tall this year – 7’1″ :

Parsnip Seed Heads 7'1in 7-21-2014

As for the 516 tomato plants originally transplanted in Kanab, only 96 were alive and healthy as of July 18th.  More are dying every day, including hundreds of replacement plants.  Beet Leafhoppers are still ubiquitous.  It is very likely that 100% of the 516 original plants will be dead within a week, though there is a chance that a few varieties may show some resistance.  That would be useful information, but does not come close to compensating for the utter devastation of this year.  I don’t even want to think about the monetary losses…

Curly Top Virus is as deadly as any blight, but should be much easier to control, now  that I know what to expect:

Curly Top Virus Tulle Bag 7-15-2014 A

Those with mesh (tulle fabric) bags are doing fine, but unfortunately they outgrow these very fast.  Without bags:

Curly Top Virus Dead Tomato Plant 7-15-2014 D

Next year, If I can scrounge up the $, I plan to put shade cloth over the entire patch.  In theory, the beet leafhoppers only feed when it’s hot, sunny and dry.

Melons, squash and peppers, on the other hand are, for the most part, growing and producing very well:

Tomato and Melon Patch Kanab 7-17-2014 B

Here is an Ananasnaya melon on July 15th:

Melon, Ananasnaya 7-15-2014 A

And an Ultra Skorospelyi watermelon:

Watermelon, Ultra Skorospelyi 7-15-2014 C

I’ve been trying for weeks to make crosses among some of the large-fruited tomato varieties.  Every morning I go out to the tomato patch and attempt cross-pollination as best as I can.  My biggest challenge has been finding enough pollen to pollinate emasculated flowers.  So far, only 1 of about 40 attempted crosses has been successful.  I’ve considered various reasons for this difficulty.  I think I’ve settled on the major factor:

TEMPERATURE

We get some fairly hot weather around here this time of year.  On July 23rd the high was 103°F while the low that night was 73. The next morning pollen was very scarce – I just about wore out the electric toothbrush!  Then we got a break from the heat.  Yesterday the high was only 92 and the low was 64.  I collected plenty of pollen this morning – more than I’ve seen yet!

Maybe cross-pollination should wait until September when the weather is more favorable, but that is the busiest time of year with harvesting and seed saving!

 

Promising Tomatoes – a 14X?

With 60 tomato plants now being monitored and tended for big tomato production, it’s about time some promising young tomatoes showed up!  I’ve put significant energy into pollinating megablooms, so it’s encouraging to see some early fruits.

First, the Big Rainbow megabud profiled on July 7th dried up and fell off.  But this evening, I found, under leaves, lower down on the plant, this bizarre conglomeration – possibly a 10X but obviously hard to say:

Big Rainbow (1.888 DT 2011) 001 7-20-2014 E rev Big Rainbow (1.888 DT 2011) 001 7-20-2014 D rev

Then the first noteworthy Big Zac (OP) of the season, a 6X Big Zac (2.602 DT 2012)(5.35 Lyons 2010):

Big Zac (2.602 DT 2012) HT 001 7-20-2014 A rev

Next a progress report on one of the 3X Epstein’s Potato Leaf fruits, now estimated at 0.642 lb.:

Epstein's PL 3X blossom NH 7-20-2014 D rev

The Sumo (1.782 DT 2012) plant in the high tunnel is sporting 2 5X’s and this very young 8x:

Sumo (1.782 DT 2012) HT002 7-19-2014 C rev

A fresh photo of the 6X (or more?) fruit on the Michael’s Portuguese Monster (2.610 DT 2012) plant in the giant tomato bed – growing very fast, 0.432 lb. est.:

Michael's Portuguese Monster (2.610 DT 2012) 6X TB-001 7-20-2014 D rev

The biggest megabloom profiled on June 30, 2014 – the one with 38 sepals – actually survived and a small tomato is starting to grow, albeit slowly – in the high tunnel on the Michael’s Portuguese Monster (2.610 DT 2012) vine:

Michael's Portuguese Monster (2.610 DT 2012) HT001 7-19-2014 D rev

But, on the same vine, much more impressive and growing very fast is a, well, a 14X !?

Michael's Portuguese Monster (2.610 DT 2012) HT002 7-20-2014 K rev Michael's Portuguese Monster (2.610 DT 2012) HT002 7-19-2014 B rev2

It’s from a minimum of 8 fused ovaries, but who can really say?  It certainly has all the appearance of a tomato that could get HUGE!

At the moment the biggest threat is:

Blossom End Rot 7-20-2014

Blossom End Rot has reared its ugly head again.  Soil has plenty of calcium.  I’ve learned, the hard way, that around here, BER comes on fast and is very destructive in hot (103° F this week), dry weather, especially if the top 1-2″ of soil dries out.  So in the high tunnel, two soaker hoses are spaced about 4′ apart.  It’s the space between them that dried out.  So I sprinkled heavily and applied bonemeal around the affected plants.

I’ve lost about 15 tomatoes to BER so far, including some promising ones; hopefully those will be the last victims of the season!  Varieties hit hardest were Omar’s Lebanese and Bezrazmernyi.

 

First Tomato of 2014

I can’t even call it a “Big” tomato. This MegaMarv tomato is from a 3X megabloom – see First Megabloom of 2014 .

It has never shown impressive growth.  First blush noticed this morning – right on schedule, 40 days from fruit set, despite this June being 7° cooler than June 2013.

MegaMarv (0.828 DT 2014)(2.678 DT 2012) A

Three diameters measured with precision calipers are, in mm:

112.4 X 93.9 X 63.2

Using formula developed a couple of years ago (see Predicting Tomato Weights), estimated weight is 0.770 lb.  It has enough curvature that I think even 0.7 lb. might be on the high side.

Headed out now to pick it, then will take taped diameter measurements to see how accurate the two methods are.

To be continued…

Later…

Taped cc measurements are:  333 X 261 X 296, yielding an estimated weight of 0.862 lb.

Actual weight:

MegaMarv (0.828 DT 2014)(2.678 DT 2012) C

0.828 is slightly closer to the taped estimate than to the caliper estimate, which seems to be the general trend and not unexpected, since the measuring tape takes into account more shape variance than do calipers.

Normally I prefer to leave tomatoes on the vine until they are about 80% ripe, but this one was growing slowly and a small 3X tomato is just starting to assert itself about 18″ higher up the vine:

MegaMarv (2.678 DT 2012) 3X 7-11-2014

At the moment, the most interesting and promising tomato might be a 6X Michael’s Portuguese Monster which has set fruit in the giant tomato bed and appears to be growing at a decent rate:

Michael's Portuguese Monster (2.610 DT 2012) 6X TB-001 7-11-2014 B rev

 

Actually now that I look at the picture up close, this could have as many as 8 fused ovaries!  Unfortunately, the plant and this tomato are just inches away from a busy sidewalk, and passerby’s snack the occasional tomato every year.  Perhaps if I set out a basket of fresh ripe tomatoes on a table by the sidewalk with a sign:

“Please take one of these ripe tomatoes and enjoy it, and please let the big tomatoes get as big as they possibly can ON the vine”

= = =

Another anecdote comparing vines in the giant tomato bed to those in the high tunnel -

Omar’s Lebanese (1.724 DT 2010) – one plant from seed of this fruit in each location; comparison of flowers and flower trusses; all measurements are in millimeters (mm)

Parameter                                             GTB                HT

Height of largest flower truss                418                 184

Width of largest flower truss                  614                  72

No. blossoms                                          24                    9

No. sepals, single                                    8                      8

Diameter, single                                     43                    27

No. fused ovaries, largest                        5                      2

No. sepals, largest                                  17                    12

Diameter, largest                                   113                    53

The flower trusses on Omar’s Lebanese in the high tunnel are truly impressive – perhaps the largest I’ve ever seen.  614 mm is a full 24″ across!! And this is 8.5 times as wide as the largest truss in the giant tomato bed.

One of these days I’ll get a complete analysis done on soil from each bed. Soil differences might prove to be the biggest difference affect plant growth and megabloom formation.  I’m guessing the giant tomato bed has a much higher pH and way too much potash (why would I put ANY wood ashes in this alkaline soil anyway?).