Encouraged by the success of his Juliet of last year, Bill McNeese applied to be in the run to set a new Guinness World Record for 'Most tomatoes from a single plant'. He planted a new Juliet in his garden in March of this year. Bill will try to achieve even better results which will have a great chance of being the new Guinness World Record holder. Below you can read his journey so far. Do you think he can do it?
Update 14th of May 14 - first report
I planted the 9 inch tall Juliet on March 8, 2018. The main vine is now 58 inches. The Waterboxx® plant cocoon has 4 wicks, and is using just under one gallon of water a week (0.94 gallons/3,55 liter). With almost no rain, I think that is excellent.
The plant seems to be about a third of the way to tying the existing record. That is, going by the number of flower & fruit clusters already on the plant. It already has some ripe fruit. That could be good or bad, depending on how long the plant can hold on to them. I suspect we will lose quite a few of the early ones, but replaced by more than we lose.
Growth has now entered the explosive stage, and that is not an overstatement. It's hard holding the plant back. I think I will soon need to prune to increase air circulation inside the plant. Once a week I record growth specs. The rosy colored strings on the plant are there to mark the clusters, that is, how many flower/fruit clusters have set. As of today there are 72. Fruit clusters can have between 5 and 12 fruits.
I can't allow the plant get much wider (no more side branches) as people will need room to walk around the plant during the counting verification. Hopefully some of the strongest branches will grow into the canopy, the mesh wire, and then spread out (see photo, overhead view).
Update 22nd of May - second report
I'm happy to say that Juliet in the Waterboxx® plant cocoon made great strides again this week. The plant grew 7 in. (18 cm) and is now 63 in. (160 cm) tall. Plant health remains good. Tomato fruit set is excellent.Of course I am letting the plant grow almost all the side branches (suckers) it can. These branches will (hopefully) produce the great number of fruit clusters needed to beat the existing record of 1,355 tomatoes.
To show that this is not easy, just to tie the record, Juliet needs 194 tomato fruit clusters that produce an average of seven fruits each - and all on the plant at the same time.
Can Juliet do it? In a couple of months we'll know, but I think we are on track.
Update 29th of may - third report
Wow, another great week for our Juliet tomato in Waterboxx® plant cocoon. Seven inches of new growth, plant is now 69 in. (175 cm) in length. But most important, more than 50 new flower clusters (trusses) appeared in just 7 days. That many clusters can produce 350 to 400 new fruits.
Will most of these flowers wither and drop, producing hardly any new fruit? It's been my experience that Juliet turn practically every flower into a tomato, especially this time of year.
The abundant fruit production I'm seeing now is a good sign, as we get closer to challenging the 1,355 tomato record.
The month of June will tell the story.
Update 5th of June - fourth report
Add another good week for our Juliet tomato plant in Waterboxx®. Steady growth and fruit set continues. By next week the main stem should reach the top of the 82" (2.1 m) trellis pole, and from there can spread out horizontally.
I did a rough calculation (based on the average spacing between fruit clusters) and was amazed to find that the main stem, with its 50+ sucker branches, is supporting over 200 ft. (61 m.) of vines. It will add greatly to that before this trial is over.
Looks like almost every flower of the 240 trusses (so far) will result in a tomato.
For this early in June the weather has suddenly turned very hot -- almost two weeks earlier than last year. I am working on providing the plant with some needed protection from the afternoon sun, and will have pictures of the setup next week.
Update 13th of June - fifth report
Several new things this week. First, the super hot days of summer are upon us, and last until the first or second week of September. To do its best Juliet needs some relief from the intense afternoon sun. I therefore built three sun shade panels to fit over the top of the trellis frame. My wife was worried about me working up there (see photo). Told her I'd be careful. No broken bones to report.
Next, in our area tomato plants got hit pretty hard by leaf blight this year ... and Juliet didn't escape. In five years of growing tomatoes here, this is the first time it happened. I'm treating the plant for blight symptoms, doing everything I can, and I think we will be OK.
The biggest problem is usually lack of rain, and Waterboxx® takes care of that nicely. Overall our plant is growing well. Total combined flower and tomato clusters stand at 348, a potential harvest of over 2,000 fruits.
Update 19th of June - sixth report
Our Juliet is still growing vigorously, the main stem now 88 in. (2.24 m.). Many other stems are beginning to catch up and grow into the upper canopy. The plant also produced another 50+ fruit blossoms in just 7 days.
The shade cloth, which blocks 40% of the sun's rays, seems to be doing a great job protecting the plant from the intense sun. The heat in the growing area is also reduced, but our two hottest months are yet to come.
Last week I reported that I was treating Juliet for leaf blight, something that also affected my other tomato plants this season. The symptoms seem to have slowed, but we're not out of the woods yet. I'm keeping a close eye on developments and continue treating the plant with a fungicide certified for organic gardening.
Update 26th of June - seventh report
Well here we are, another week behind us. Our Juliet has grown an additional 7 inches, and is now just short of 8 ft. (2.4 m.) tall. But as you can see in this week's photos, I had to remove a lot of foliage due to the blight problem. Hopefully it will slow and stop pretty soon.
Fruit production remains very good. It's hard to see in the pictures, but hundreds of new, tiny fruit have set.
We should have our official counting in July if I can get my two specialist witnesses on board. If it takes longer, and the plant remains healthy enough, September is not too late to have it.
A Juliet tomato plant I grew last year in Waterboxx® provided us with 1,315 fruits in the month of September, alone.
Update 3rd of July - eighth report
A few new happenings to report this week, besides to say our plant is doing pretty good. Temperatures have been in the 90's°F (+30°C). However, the weather report says that by July 5th, we may get record breaking temperatures. That can only mean way above 100°F (+37°C).
Some of the Juliet stems now exceed 8 feet (2,40 m) in length and were hitting the underside of the shade cloth. To get more room I added an additional 12 inches (30 cm) of space above the wire mesh canopy. The plant can now grow to 9 feet (2,70 m) before I have to start training stems to grow horizontally. We'll see how that works out.
For about the last 4 or 5 weeks a pesky ground squirrel was knocking tomatoes off the plant, taking a few bites out of each, and going on his merry way. This went on 2 to 3 times a day. I tried several kinds of deterrents, none of which worked for very long. More than 150 fruits were lost. I finally managed to corral him in a cage (baited with an apple) and relocated him far from the garden. I'm glad that's over. I was beginning to think the squirrel was smarter than me!
The ground squirrel that has been eating from Bill's tomatoes this year