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hamiltongardener

Is Big Boy really a hybrid?

16 years ago

I've seen different messages on the internet on Big Boy tomatoes. Some call it a hybrid, but as I understand it, hybrids won't have seeds true to the parent. Others say that Big Boys will have seeds true to the parent.

Can any experts here enlighten me?

Comments (13)

  • 16 years ago

    I've seen different messages on the internet on Big Boy tomatoes. Some call it a hybrid, but as I understand it, hybrids won't have seeds true to the parent. Others say that Big Boys will have seeds true to the parent.
    Can any experts here enlighten me?

    *****

    Yes, Big Boy is definitely an F1 hybrid that was bred by Dr. Oved Schifriss back in the 40's when he was still with Burpee. One parent is Teddy Jones, a large pink heirloom from the midwest and while Dr. Schifriss told me the other parent he asked me not to name it, so I haven't.

    If you grow out saved seeds from the F1 plant fruits you'll get mainly reds but also some pinks, as I've done when I started to dehybridize it. That shows it's a hybrid.

    But there are some OP versions of Big Boy kicking around, meaning that someone kept making selections from seed saved from F1 fruits until all seeds gave rise to plants with red fruits.

    I've not grown any OP version of Big boy so can't speak to either taste or performance.

    Better Boy F1 also has Teddy Jones as one parent.

    Carolyn

  • 16 years ago

    Thanks Carolyn. I was hoping it would be you who answered.

    I've seen several sites with "heirloom" Big Boy seeds for sale, so I was wondering if they were legit.

  • 16 years ago

    I've seen several sites with "heirloom" Big Boy seeds for sale, so I was wondering if they were legit.

    ****

    Different folks may have different definitions for how long a variety has to be around before it can be called an heirloom, but I think everyone agrees that all heirlooms are OP, not hybrid as is Big Boy, and not all OP's are heirlooms either.

    Carolyn

  • 16 years ago

    I heard once that Marglobe is the other parent of Big Boy.

    I have just two Big Boy plants in my garden this summer. Both are nice big healthy vines, but very few fruits set on yet.......lots of blooms tho I set these two out end of April.

    Early Girl still sets fruit and is the "reliability" winner for me though. If you can plant only ONE tomato vine.....I recommend Early Girl

  • 16 years ago

    Is "big boy" the same variety as "burpee big boy", asking becase I have seen them labelled with each of those names, and someone who gave me some fruits several years ago suggested that the "burpee big boy" strain of hybrids had been discontinued...but I see "big boy" all the time (though I cannot get seeds in Canada...I did grow "burpee big boy" from purchased seedlings 4 years ago and they were excellent, not sure whether these were just "big boy" or whether they were something different).

  • 16 years ago

    Is "big boy" the same variety as "burpee big boy", asking becase I have seen them labelled with each of those names, and someone who gave me some fruits several years ago suggested that the "burpee big boy" strain of hybrids had been discontinued...but I see "big boy" all the time (though I cannot get seeds in Canada...I did grow "burpee big boy" from purchased seedlings 4 years ago and they were excellent, not sure whether these were just "big boy" or whether they were something different).

    *****

    Anthony, I've never seen Big Boy referred to as Burpee Big Boy although I suppose a few seed sites might do that, but they should be referring to the F1 hybrid.

    Big Boy is not a strain of hybrids at all as you worte above, it's a distinct F1 variety and no doubt one of the best varieties ever bred by Burpee via Dr. Schifriss.

    And seed production for the F1 hybrid has not been discontinued, actually far from it.

    Burpee for many years has not bred any new ones and last I knew did no seed production. So why do they say a Burpee this or that on recent intorductions? B/c there are large scale breeders that will sell rights to certain retailers, unnamed varieties, let them name it and claim it as their own. Actually as far as I know Burpee is about the only retailer I know that has done this from what I can gather.

    At any seed source, such as TGS and others, Big Boy is correctly listed as an F1 hybrid. But as I said above, there have been listings for an OP dervative in the SSE Yearbooks, but I doubt highly that someone is selling plants from that OP seed unless they are clearly indicating what they're selling.

    TGS does send to Canada so if you wanted the F1 Big Boy seeds for a small extra charge you could order from them. And while you were there perhaps find some other varieties of tomatoes, peppers or eggplant that you might want to make that worthwhile.

    Carolyn

  • 16 years ago

    Carolyn,

    Thanks for the information (non-info. too) concerning the parents of Big Boy. The breeder would be proud of you for keeping the name of the other parent a secret.

    I am wondering how the true Big Boy is being propagated ... someone must know the identity of both parents. lol

    I remember seeing my first Big Boy vine about 50 yrs. ago. It was growing in my uncle's garden, and had several nice sized round ripe tomatoes hanging on it near the ground. It impressed me so much with it's appearance that I have never forgotten it!

    Am anxious to see how my 2 Big Boy vines turn out this year, since we have had such weird weather in May and June.
    It's starting to be hot (in 80's) and rainy again now. Soil is already too wet. Must be from all the ice packs melting. Some say the oceans will be 250 ft. higher by the middle of this century.......glad I won't be around then!

    Hope your maters are doing well, Carolyn.

    Owen

  • 16 years ago

    I am wondering how the true Big Boy is being propagated ... someone must know the identity of both parents. lol

    *****

    Sure they do.

    Big Boy is Teddy Jones X ?

    And Better Boy is Teddy Jones X ?

    And both of those "X's" are known to those doing seed production.

    John Peto was originally at Burpee as well and when he left he took seeds of Teddy Jones with him. When he formed Petoseed in CA, now a part of Seminis Seeds, he crossed TJ with X to form F1 Better Boy.

    No, seeds of Teddy Jones are not available anywhere, for obvious reasons.

    But the story is an interesting one.

    In the late 30's Burpee folks were lookiong in the midwest for some OP varieties to use in breeding. They found this one, TJ, and offered the owner $24 for exclusive rights to the variety. He was happy b'c at that time that $24 allowed him to build a small greenhouse.

    So for a $24 outlay for germplasm just think how much money has been made from sales of F1 Big Boy.

    Carolyn

  • 16 years ago

    You might want to plant some seeds of a Big Boy tomato, and see what you get. I can remember when an Elberta Peach had fuzz an eighth of an inch long. Now not much at all. With the fame of the peach they are not going to change the name when itÂs improved.

    I planted four Better Boy Hybrid tomato seeds this year. The plants F2 have done great. I think some produce bigger tomatoes than the other, and the plant is bigger. I also have some Better Boy F1 plants.

    So far from my Better Boy and Delicious Tomatoes I have picked 37 pounds of tomatoes from my 13 plants. Some Roma tomatoes are just starting to produce.

    I also saw a seed company that didnÂt list Better Boy as a Hybrid.

    IÂm sure that Big Boy tomatoes planted from the hybrid plant will produce delicious eating tomatoes.

    Karyl

  • 16 years ago

    I also saw a seed company that didnÂt list Better Boy as a Hybrid.

    ****

    Well they should have. ( smile) With every passing year I see more and more info about tomato varieties at various sites, especially the OP heirlooms, giving out wrong information. Sigh,

    (IÂm sure that Big Boy tomatoes planted from the hybrid plant will produce delicious eating tomatoes)

    Sorry, but I can'agree with that. I started to dehybridize Big Boy and put out I think 12 plants from saved seed from the F1 and 10 of those were red and two were pink.

    And the taste of many of the red F2's was not that great.
    Had I picked the best tasting red F2 and selected from that perhaps I would have come up with something worthwhile, but at the time I had other obligations and didn't go forward with the selections ti further F generations.

    Carolyn

  • 16 years ago

    Anthony, I've never seen Big Boy referred to as Burpee Big Boy although I suppose a few seed sites might do that, but they should be referring to the F1 hybrid.

    Big Boy is not a strain of hybrids at all as you worte above, it's a distinct F1 variety and no doubt one of the best varieties ever bred by Burpee via Dr. Schifriss.

    And seed production for the F1 hybrid has not been discontinued, actually far from it.

    All good to know, so if I spot some Big Boy plants I know they will be the ones that I tried before. As for the labelling of the plants as Burpee Big Boy, the tags were the standard plastic plant tags that are inserted into the soil of the seedling. They were printed tags that said "Burpee Big Boy" with a photo of the tomato, as well as a description. Maybe the nursery had these created, I assume they were not supplied by Burpee, but these tags (combined with having received some "Burpee Big Boy" fruits from someone in the prior year), led me to believe that this was somehow different than "Big Boy". Have not seen "Burpee Big Boy" since that time. Burpee will not ship seeds to Canada for some unknown reason so I could not order from them, but I think I need a few more years to narrow down my permanent heirloom garden varieties before I go back to adding one or two big boys.

  • 4 months ago

    One criteria for HEIRLOOM tomatoes, is that they have to have been grown for over 50 years. And while Big Boy does meet this criteria, they are a true hybrid. So as I have aged, I see more and more seed comanies, and nursery stores refer to them as an heirloom