Alfred Reed Bishop and Doris William Butler
The picture above is the very tap root of Bishop's Homegrown/Face Of The Earth Seed. My grandparents shortly after moving to Pekin Indiana from Greensburg KY in 1947 where they purchased the farm that is now Bishop's Homegrown. This picture was taken in Pekin in front of the old co-op next to the old railroad depot, neither of which exist today.
Monday, January 28, 2008
Mozark Tomato: Bringing the dead back to life.
My good friend Bill Jeffers (known as Papa Vic on the internet) is big into tomatoes, as a mater of fact he is more into growing tomatoes than anyone else that I know and his passion for doing so is great and convincing. When I first started looking for greater amounts of genetic diversity in tomato crops Bill was kind enough to send me several huge packages of Tomato Seed to grow out and evaluate. As I have been working to fill in the gaps in my seed bank I have come close to finishing up my work with tomatoes and so my interest has moved elswhere, I have little time for working with a crop that is alredy so diverse and being kept safe and sound by tomato obsessed people worldwide so my interest has switched to crops with a bit less popularity as far as breeding and genetic diversity goes, such as tobacco, sweet corn, dent corn, brassica crops, lettuce, peppers, and in particular winter and summer squash.
One thing that I have been searching for is a great fresh market, roun, red tomato suitable for slicing and canning, available in bulk or in small basketts, with great disease and sun scald resistance/tolerance. Of course, out of self- sustainable interests and lack of desire to breed such a tomato, I prefer an open pollinated option (if I went with hybrids there would be no need to search, there are just so many). The closest I have come to that is either Campbells 1327 or a little known gem of a tomato that was though to be extinct until recently that my friend Bill sent my way. A tomato called Mozark. Here is Bills discription:
Obtained very old seed from University of Missouri and got 70% germination in 2007, with healthy growth of 4-foot determinate plants yielding concentrated set of about 40 fruit per plant, medium sized, firm, blemish free, red canners also suited for eating fresh with a slightly tart zing. Very dense, regular leaf foliage tends to be a lighter green with smoother serrations and broader leaves than some other RL types and provides ample shade for fruit. Did not succumb to some of the diseases that downed its neighbors and stayed green top to bottom throughout its bearing season.
From the history I have been able to track down this tomato was released around 1960 by the Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station, Columbia. Bill sent me some of his old seed which I was suprised to see sprout, but which indeed did and led to some nice looking healthy plants that produced prolifically and which held up niceley as determinate plants and were barely bothered by the record setting drought of 2007 and never knew what the word "disease" meant.
This is a tomato which I think deserves a place in everyones garden and this year I plan on increasing seed to send out through the Hip-Gnosis seed development project and our messageboard http://alanbishop.proboards60.com . It's also a tomato that my customers can expect to see at our farm stand for years to come, I think they will really be pleased with the flavor and future plant customers will really love the determinate, disease tolerant, heavy bearing plants.
The picture at the top is of a sliced Mozark preparing to have seed "extracted".
I would like to thank Bill for saving this rare gem of a tomato and providing us with our foundation seed stock. Bill is also responsibe for making a number of new tomato crosses you just might find at you local farmers market, in your CSA basket, or growing in your garden one day and was also responsible for the selection of the "Red Bullet" tomato available through the Long Island Seed Project located at www.liseed.org