cloning tomato plant

Asked January 26, 2013, 10:21 PM EST

I have 3 determinate tomato plans started from seed and 3 roma plants from seed and my intention is to grow these as mother plants to clone from but was womdering how to determine the best mother to clone from. Without knowing how they will perform at maturity, is there any way to tell which one will be the best mother for cloning?

Columbia County Oregon fruits and vegetables horticulture

1 Response

This is an interesting question. If the tomato plant you have was not the result of a hybrid (i.e. controlled) cross, the seeds from the tomato fruit will be generally the same genetics as the original plant (tomatoes largely self-pollinate). If, however, you wanted to clone a hybrid plant, you can do that from cuttings. Here is one link that might be worthwhile: http://www.diyseattle.com/backyard/gardening/rooting-tomato-cuttings/

Back to your original question, I would select for vigor as a proxy for cutting choice but this is still a bit of a guess as to how any individual plant will perform come time to fruit. We had some grafted plants last year at a test garden that grew more vigorous than the non-grafted version but started fruiting later and ended up producing the same amount of fruit as the un-grafted one. Vegetative propagated plants can accumulate viruses so cutting propagation might not be worth doing more than one cycle. At a minimum, cull any plants exhibiting off-type appearance during the pre-fruiting stage. Hope this helps. Feel free to call or email me directly if you still have questions. Chip
Chip Bubl Agricultural Extension Agent and County Leader Oregon State University Extension Service Columbia County 505 N. Columbia River Highway St. Helens, OR 97051 Phone: 503-397-3462 Fax: 503-397-3467 chip.bubl@oregonstate.edu