A suggestion for sustainability - storage tomato landrace

I was just looking through a tomato list on one of the good seed shops in the UK (maybe the only one here that actually encourages you to save your own seeds!) I am not actually interested in this tomato but I will provide the description here for discussion:

De Colgar (Storage Tomato)
A traditional class of tomato from Spain that is pretty much extinct now, these are nice round orange-pink tomatoes bred for winter storage.

They ripen a bit later than the others. The idea is that you pick them at the end of them summer and put them carefully aside in your cool larder (much as you would store apples); with a bit of care they keep until January! We have tried this several times and it really does work.

(Just as with apples, you need a slightly humid but well-ventilated store, with a steady temperature ideally about 8-10 C. But if you don’t get it quite right they still store better than other tomatoes.)

They are very similar to the old french variety ‘Jaune de Flamee’; we think that there probably were versions of this in every country so that there were tomatoes available for winter salads. But with the advent first of bottling, then freezing, and now supermarket-shipped tomatoes from Spain, these are all extinct.

Less juicy than normal tomatoes, with a thick skin, which is why they keep. Vine to 5 feet tall, best grown in a greenhouse or polytunnel.

I thought this was worth pointing out, because most of us probably dislike thicker or tougher skins on tomatoes. I know I personally do. However, many of us are also urban supermarket-frequenting creatures. And so it strikes me that for the sake of sustainability, for those who want to preserve their tomatoes over winter, rather than consuming electricity with freezing or demanding time and resources (and entailing higher vitamin loss?) through … what’s that called… bottling/jarring? Rather than all that, why not go the old way and just store them similar to how one would potatoes or apples?

And so, if we find tomatoes which are less juicy and with thicker skins in our landraces, perhaps there is an opportunity there to split them off into a new storage tomato landrace!

Now as for late harvest - I wonder, would it be better to have them take more time to ripen, like the heirloom listed above? Or, would it be better if they are mid-season or whatever, but maybe you just plant them a bit later? I mean, if you had the choice? I am guessing the quicker the better and though you’d want them to be ready late, since the purpose is winter storage, maybe if they’re quicker to do their cycle, you could plant them later than the main crop and have something else in that bed until you need to plant them!

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I am excited about this topic. My interest is partly because a feral tomato I adopted a few years ago seems to have some colgar traits.

I recall reading that some of Joseph Lofthouse’s populations have exhibited colgar traits.

I have read a research paper or two which have documented traditional Italian colgar landraces, I believe one of them was Metabolite Profiling of Italian Tomato Landraces with Different Fruit Types but I think the other paper was more useful with regard to colgar varities. I’ll try to find it again.

I jotted down the names of a few that I thought sounded interesting and might be available commercially:

  • Principe Borghese
  • Corbarino

I wish I had slightly more detailed notes, but I didn’t consider I might be sharing them later on.

Edit: Dark Galaxy F1 stored even longer than my feral “School Hill” tomatoes, for a couple of months into the late fall. I’m going to grow some F2 seed from it this year.

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I’m glad it excites you!

An interesting idea. I know the Italians have a number of ‘storage’ tomatoes, often with either inverno or piennolo in the name.
I’m interested in thicker skinned tomatoes for a different reason. We have a fruit pest here call the Queensland Fruit Fly (QFF) which lays its eggs in fruit. The maggots hatch and munch away and can completely ruin the fruit. Anyway, they seem less attracted to thick skinned and/or quite small tomatoes. If they store well too what a bonus!
We used to grow under mesh but we are moving away from plastic in the garden so QFF resistance is something we’d love in a landrace.

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I wonder if there’s scope for the people who don’t want these traits in their landraces, to give the seed from those tomatoes (if they appear) over to those who do, instead of trashing them? As individuals I guess we all have different selection criteria but maybe as a group there’s more power, like the friend who doesn’t like the crusts (edge parts of bread/toast) giving them over to the friend who loves them :slight_smile:

What I do often is save a lot of seed that I don’t end up moving forward with myself. Then hopefully someone else will want something that I haven’t done anything with or maybe at some point I’ll grow it again in a different frame of mind.

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We always did this, regardless of variety. Pick all the tomatoes before the first frost and they ripen on the windowsill or in a box. We often had tomatoes for a month or two into the winter.

Something to select for, perhaps.

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I have found the article that I couldn’t put my hands on before: Insights Into the Adaptation to Greenhouse Cultivation of the Traditional Mediterranean Long Shelf-Life Tomato Carrying the alc Mutation: A Multi-Trait Comparison of Landraces, Selections, and Hybrids in Open Field and Greenhouse

Their project involved evaluating for greenhouse use, but there is a considerable amount of interesting information about colgar tomatoes.

Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) landraces with extremely extended long shelf-life, of several months at room temperature, have been traditionally cultivated in Mediterranean regions. These landraces are commonly known as “de colgar” in Spanish, “de penjar” or “de ramellet” in Catalan, or “da serbo” in Italian. These local names make reference to its conservation by hanging in strings (“de colgar” and “de penjar”), to the fact that they normally set in clusters (“de ramellet”), or that have a long storage period (“da serbo”). Before the generalized advent of refrigerators and greenhouse cultivation Mediterranean long shelf-life tomatoes, when stored in ventilated rooms typically hanging in strings with the fruits threaded through the pedicel, allowed the availability of fresh tomatoes throughout the winter time.

We have evaluated 12 varieties (seven landraces, three selections and two hybrids) carrying the alc mutation under open field (OF) and greenhouse (GH) cultivation, and evaluated them for 52 morphological, agronomic, chemical properties, and chemical composition descriptors.

The alc mutation confers a specific phenotype associated to a delayed ripening and reduced lycopene/β-carotene ratio in the fruits (Mutschler et al., 1992; Figàs et al., 2015b), and is found in many different genetic backgrounds (Cebolla-Cornejo et al., 2013). This indicates that throughout the years traditional farmers made an efficient selection of a diverse set of tomato landraces carrying this mutation. As a result, there are many local varieties in the Mediterranean region with the alc mutation, with a wide morphological diversity.

The traditional cultivation of the long shelf-life local tomato varieties from the Mediterranean region has been done in the open field with no or reduced irrigation

Varieties used include: (a) three landraces used for the production of the Valencian Community Quality Mark “Tomata de Penjar” in the Alcalà de Xivert municipality (province of Castellò, mainland Spain) and locally known as “Estrella,” “Moradeta,” and “Punteta”; (b) the type landrace (UIB-2-70) of the conservation variety “Tomátiga de Ramellet” from Majorca Island (Spain); (c) three landraces from the germplasm bank of Universitat de les Illes Balears collected in Majorca Island (BGIB-018, BGIB-107, BGIB-198), corresponding to the “Tomàtiga de Ramellet” highly variable landrace (Bota et al., 2014); (d) a selection of long shelf-life (alc) tomato used for greenhouse cultivation in the Almería province (Spain) called “SEL1”; (e) two commercial varieties corresponding to selections of the long shelf-life (alc) tomato type (“Domingo” and “Mallorquín”) from Semillas Batlle (Molins de Rei, Barcelona, Spain); and (f) two commercial long shelf-life hybrids (“Palamós F1” and “Manacor F1”) both of which are resistant to Tomato mosaic virus (ToMV) and to Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV), and also to Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. lycopersici in the case of “Manacor F1,” from Semillas Fitó (Barcelona, Spain).

Interesting article Mark, thanks for the quote!

With that in mind I find it rather ironic that these landraces so well suited to not needing special conditions, and so suited to keeping well to be eaten long after tomato season has ended, are being studied for growing in greenhouses. I had thought that greenhouses are for making expensive high-input tomatoes for people who want to buy them at times they can’t be grown outside. It almost seems as if they missed the point :laughing:

But it’s interesting info, about the different landraces etc. Thanks!

Last week I was talking to the owner of a seed company here in Catalonia, where colgar tomatoes are very much a thing and definitely not extinct. He told me that you should plant colgar tomatoes as late as possible. And that you should eat them in reverse order, that is, you eat last the ones you picked first. His explanation was that the first tomatoes are set when the plant is healthier, and therefore keep much longer.
Just thought I’d share this in case you guys find it useful.

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