Belfield, ND(Zone 4a)

Does anyone know anything about the Sheyenne tomato? I've done a little research on it, but haven't found anything definite as to whether it's OP, Heirloom or a hybrid. I really don't think it's a hybrid.

I am really interested in this tomato because it does so well in this area, plus, my Grandma grew it, my ex MIL grew it, my 90+ year old garden friend says it's the only tomato to grow, and I grew it for a long while before we could not get the plants at the greenhouse anymore. At the time I was growing them, I didn't know enough about all this to even think of checking into their background, much less think of saving seeds. (Kicking myself all over the place here). I hope it's not an extinct variety already.

Does anyone know anything at all about these tomatoes? Any info would be most welcome. I'm working on talking to all the old-timers here in a quest to find seeds if there are any available. So far, no luck.

Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

It's OP and available through SSE. I'll get you some seeds next season if you want.

Bakersfield, CA


Not to worry. Sheyenne is still out there. It is an OP. I did a cut and paste for you and others to read. There is some interesting history on this variety and I included pedigree info and one source.


Sheyenne - Breeder and vendor: North Dakota Agr. Expt. Sta., Fargo. Parentage: (Stokesdale x Bounty) x (Firesteel x small-fruited determinant selection from Morden Expt. Farm). Characteristics: vigorous, heavy foliage type, early maturity, large fruit. Similar: Cavalier. Adaptation: Great Plains Area. N.D. Bimonthly Bul. vol. 21 Nov. 1959.


Tanager Song Farm Cyber Catalog
Sheyenne D-90 Globe, red flesh, above average yield. 2.5" x 2.5" (Limited Supply)
----------------------------------------- vol11/v11p36.html

Sheyenne: Holland, Neal J. and E. P. Lana. Horticulture Department, State College Station, Fargo, North Dakota (15).

Bounty_______ Stokesdale Bison________ Pritchard
sp u | sp | sp
| |
| Firesteel______ Morden Manitoba
| S. Dakota | Selection
| 1935 sp | sp
1959 sp u
Blemish resistant.
Foliage retention.

Belfield, ND(Zone 4a)

Thank you Mel and Tom!

Tom, I wrote to Tanager Song Farm about this seed, but I didn't get a reply. I wonder if they are still in business.

Mel, I'll remind you next season, 'kay? When do you want me to do that? Thank you!

Belfield, ND(Zone 4a)

Been studying this Tom, and does this mean that the first year it was grown was 1959? If that's the case, does it become an heirloom in 2009?

I'm still learning all this stuff.

Bakersfield, CA


I thought it would be convenient to mention one definition of an heirloom for the sake of commenting further.

Heirloom Vegetables What is an heirloom? Lawrence Davis-Hollander, director of the Eastern Native Seed Conservancy (3), explains:

[Heirloom] is a loosely based word, probably first coined (in relation to plants) by the eastern Massachusetts bean collector John Withee and expanded by the seed movement. And becoming greatly misunderstood and bastardized. Basically it refers to plants (seeds) handed down from generation to generation through families and friends and neighbors—creating an heirloom AND seeds of a particular age, probably about 50 years or more (like the American definition of antique) dating to W.W.II and before. Therefore Heirloom seeds tend to be fifty years old or more and may or may not have been handed down.

One should go to these sites for further elaboration on the concept of "heirloom" and browse some of these passages:

Epicurean Tomato Fete, Eastern Native Seed Conservancy

Here are some excerpts from the latter site relating to a particular "Heirloom" so to speak.

"I come for the tomatoes," exulted chef Chris Prosperi from Metro Bis, in Simsbury, Conn. "Otherwise there's no way to keep up with what's become available." He was passing out Green Zebra tomatoes stuffed with wakame (a type of seaweed) salad, tuna tartare and wasabi crème fraîche.

Since Green Zebra is one of my varieties that is considered to be an heirloom many call me an heirloom breeder. It is a composite of four heirloom lines but I only released the first seed in 1983, therefore, is it a true "Heirloom"??????? Since there is "no controlling legal authority" determining what is, and what is not an goes to show the confusion of identifying heirlooms.

Many have used the 50 years or more jingle to say what is an heirloom. But now that pre-WWII is now 60 years ago, what are we going to do? Have a Tomato Hall of Heirloom Fame in which a tomato is inducted by popular vote into this organization once it qualifies to being 50 years old? I think not!

Davis-Hollander gets it right. Heirloom is a loosely based word. It may, or may not be, 50 years old or older. It may, or may not be, handed down one to another. Surely "Heirloom" means what you want it to mean. Some people think that "Heirloom" means that the original holder of the variety is long gone and dead. Indeed, I feel that some folks upon learning that I created the Green Zebra, are disappointed that I am not dead, hah hah.

Does anyone really want my own definition of the word "Heirloom"....I really don't think I would undo what has already been wrought.

Tom Wagner

Belfield, ND(Zone 4a)

Thanks Tom, I'm off to look at the hyperlinks now.

Richmond, KY(Zone 6b)

More and more we're seeing "heirloom" defined as pre-1940.

I kind of like that, as it automatically excludes all the modern hybrids.

The problem with Green Zebra, and many of the others that Tom has introduced, is that somehow or other his name becomes unassociated with them. Sometimes this happens by accident, and sometimes it is done by intent.

Either way, many people use "heirloom" and "open pollinated" interchangeably. So what we have is a relatively new variety that, in the popular imagination, has been around so long that it is an heirloom.

This is of some concern to me for a couple of reasons. One: I'm one of those people who feel that time is a definate factor in defining heirlooms. 50 years is the generaly accepted time frame by most heirloom enthusiasts, and sometimes the definition is drawn even tighter. Mike Dunton, at Victory Seeds, for instance, does not include any variety that started life as a commercial strain.

Two:Credit should be given where it's due. Tom, for instance, has created quite a few really great new varieties, and it bothers me that his name gets dropped from them.

If his name was Tom Monsanto rather than Tom Wagner they would all be patented, and he'd be suing the pants off anyone who grew them without his permission (and a royalty). Tom has not patented his varieties, and isn't looking for a royalty payment. But the least we can do is recognize him as their creator.

Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

Hi glad to see you back! Please stop in more often and let us glean a little knowlege. I love checking the links that you so graciously give us.It expands our world here greatly.

I'm of the school that a heirloom should be a non commercial variety and am heavilly into 'direct collecting',but I'm also concerned about some of the old OP commercials that are no longer available. I'm growing one called Ferris Wheel this year that is a wonderful tomato and should be preserved.(Saltzer Seed Co. 1909)There has to be a place in the world for both kinds of treasures.And while people are passionate about their special niche.I think preserving genetic diversity in this day and time is paramount.

And thanks so much for all of the wonderful tomatoes that you have given us too. Folks,if you're not aware...Tom is responsible for more than just Green Zebra.

Bakersfield, CA

Many of the arguments revolving around the word heirloom seem to venture into intolerance when it comes to tomatoes. As long as the public doesn't know about the actual and true source of a variety, or if the myth of the origin of a variety is connected to an interesting story of old familial history, then it must be an heirloom. Why would one absolutely rule out "recent", "new", "created", or "modern" heirloom tomatoes as unworthy? There often seems to be a derision directed toward purposely bred tomatoes. Do "purists" avoid me after learning that I am the creator of some of their favorite "heirlooms"? Mostly, yes. I could give you hundreds of stories of such circumstances, but I am afraid the stories would be terribly embarrassing to the parties involved.

As I went into definitions, as you will see in latter part of my discourse here, words like heirlooms, classics, vintage, old-fashioned, endurables, authentic, traditional, worthies, notables, and many others in adjective and noun formations are useful to augment the term "Heirloom" and how restricting the usage has become.

No affront to anyone on this forum intended, just some ramblings.

Tom Wagner

Main Entry: heir·loom
Pronunciation: 'ar-"lüm, 'er-
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English heirlome, from heir + lome implement —more at LOOM
Date: 15th century
1 : a piece of property that descends to the heir as an inseparable part of an inheritance of real property
2 : something of special value handed on from one generation to another
Main Entry: [2]vintage
Function: adjective
Date: 1601
1 : of wine : of, relating to, or produced in a particular vintage
2 : of old, recognized, and enduring interest, importance, or quality : CLASSIC
3 a : dating from the past : OLD b : OUTMODED, OLD-FASHIONED
4 : of the best and most characteristic — used with a proper noun

a collection of contemporaneous and similar persons or things : CROP
2 : the act or time of harvesting grapes or making wine
3 a : a period of origin or manufacture b : length of existence : AGE
Main Entry: [2]classic
Function: noun
Date: 1711
1 : a literary work of ancient Greece or Rome
2 a : a work of enduring excellence; also : its author b : an authoritative source
3 : a typical or perfect example
4 : a traditional event

PMain Entry: [1]clas·sic
Pronunciation: 'kla-sik
Function: adjective
Etymology: French or Latin; French classique, from Latin classicus of the highest class of Roman citizens, of the first rank, from classis
Date: circa 1604
1 a : serving as a standard of excellence : of recognized value b : TRADITIONAL, ENDURING c : characterized by simple tailored lines in fashion year after year

2 : of or relating to the ancient Greeks and Romans or their culture : CLASSICAL
3 a : historically memorable b : noted because of special literary or historical associations

5 : capitalized : of or relating to the period of highest development of Mesoamerican and especially Mayan culture about A.D. 300-900

© 2001 by Merriam-Webster, Incorporated
Merriam-Webster Privacy Policy

(Zone 6a)

I personally don't care if it is a recently created delicious tomato or one that was created 1,000 yrs. ago:)
By the way, most "heirloom" tomatoes that I have personally raised are not worth the seeds they came from. I would not be in favor of preserving seeds from such varieties, no matter what; some 'maters just are plainly so inferior that they don't deserve to be perpetuated!! Just my humble opinion:) I like my 'maters to be smooth, good size, excellent flavor, and at least a smatter of disease resistance:) It's history is interesting but not very important to this fellow:) I can't eat history. LOL


Richmond, KY(Zone 6b)

>Why would one absolutely rule out "recent", "new", "created", or "modern" heirloom tomatoes as unworthy? <

Personally, I think anyone who does so is an idiot.

Tom, you and I both know that goes on, and it's a real shame. But we're not going to be able to stop it, either. There are snobs in every field of endeaver.

Let me add, though, that our discussion hasn't been about worth varieites. Rather, we've been attempting to define what is meant by "heirloom" when applied to plants.

There is a certain cachet attached to the word "heirloom", nowadays. And a group of people who believe, in a knee-jerk reaction, that it it's an heirloom it is automatically good. As Owen points out, such is not the case. There are many old varieties that taste like [deleted], just as there are many modern varieites that are full of flavor. But, again, this goes beyond formulating a definition.

I like the pre-1940 concept because it leaves no doubt that we are excluding hybrids. But the same can be said from a definition that's phrased along the lines, "any open pollinated variety at least X years old...."

But I stand firm in my belief that any definition must include the factor of time.

Moorhead, MN(Zone 4a)


I realize I'm coming to this party very late (probably past closing time), however, the Sheyenne tomato seed is usually readily available at Baker's Nursery in Fargo, ND.

Belfield, ND(Zone 4a)

Thanks Jefe! I'm sending you and email.

Moorhead, MN(Zone 4a)

Joan and all,

I want to be sure and give Neal J. Holland his "props" too. Although "props" now would likely be defined as the urban-speak slang for respect or recognition, in this case I'm going to use it to mean propagation.

Mr. Holland operates a nursery called Sheyenne Gardens at Harwood, North Dakota. He most likely would have the Sheyenne tomato seeds also. Call first to confirm it though. Regardless of whether the tomato seed is in stock or not, his nursery is a really cool place to visit. I've never met him personally, but most of the staff really know their stuff, and have obviously been under the tutelage of an extremely experienced horticulturist.

So in my opinion it is worth the drive to his nursery just to buy the seeds from "the man" who worked on the development of the tomato originally.

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