What’s In a Tomato?
Tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetables to grow and one of the trickiest in Oklahoma. Understanding them a little better may be the key to the best harvest yet.
Tomato varieties are roughly divided into several categories, based on shape and size.
- Slicing or globes are the most commonly grown, used for a wide variety of processing and fresh eating.
- Beefsteaks are large tomatoes often used for sandwiches and similar applications.
- Plum or pear or pastes are bred with higher solids content for use in tomato sauce, usually oblong.
- Cherry are small and round, often sweet, generally eaten whole in salads.
- Grape are smaller and oblong, a variation on plum tomatoes, used in salads.
- Campari are sweet, noted for their juiciness and low acidity, bigger than cherry but smaller than plum.
- Early tomatoes bear fruit even where nights are cool.
Determinate or bush types bear a full crop all at once and top off at a specific height. They are often good choices for container growing. Determinate types are preferred by commercial growers who wish to harvest a whole field at one time, or home growers interested in canning. Determinate varieties require little or no staking of the plant.
Indeterminate varieties develop into vines that never top off and continue producing until killed by frost. They are preferred by home growers and local-market farmers who want ripe fruit throughout the season. Many, if not all, heirloom tomatoes are indeterminate.
Days to Harvest
The average number of days from the time transplants are set out until the first ripe fruit may be picked.
A tomato is considered to be an heirloom when the seed has been saved and grown at least 50 years or more and has been passed down from generation to generation. An heirloom is also open-pollinated, which simply means the plant is capable of producing seeds that will grow a new plant identical to the parent plant the seed came from. Heirloom tomatoes are often grown for their taste, which is widely perceived to be better than modern tomatoes. They do, however, have a shorter shelf life and are less disease resistant than most hybrid tomatoes.
Heirloom Varieties Classification Type Days to Harvest
Brandywine Pink Large Beefsteak Indeterminate 80 days
Black Krim Medium/large slicing Indeterminate 70 days
Amish Paste Small slicing Indeterminate 80 days
Rutgers Medium slicing Indeterminate 74 days
Arkansas Traveler Small yellow Indeterminate 75 day
Hybrid tomato plants remain common, since they tend to be heavier producers, and sometimes combine unusual characteristics of heirloom tomatoes with the ruggedness of conventional commercial tomatoes. Hybrid tomato varieties are generally produced by plant breeders, which select two compatible tomato varieties and cross-breed them to create a new tomato variety that features traits from the two parent plants. Unlike heirlooms, seeds collected from a hybrid will not grow identical to the parent. It will grow with the traits of one of the parent plants, but not both.
Designations for common disease resistance or tolerant hybrid tomato varieties:
V = Verticillium Wilt T = Tobacco Mosaic Virus
F = Fusarium Race 1 B = Bacterial Speck
F2 = Fusarium Race 1 A = Alternaria Stem Canker
N = Root Knot Nematodes St = Stemphyllium Leaf Spot
Hybrid Varieties Classification Type Resistance Days to Harvest
Better Boy Large slicing variety Indeterminate VFNASt 70 days
Better Bush Medium-sized slicing Determinate VFN 68 days
Big Beef Large beefsteak Indeterminate VFFNTASt 73 days
Big Boy Large slicing Indeterminate 78 days
Celebrity Medium sized slicing Semi-determinate VFFNTASt 70 days
Champion II Medium sized slicing Indeterminate VFNT 62 days
Early Girl Medium sized slicing Determinate VFF 62 days
4th of July Small slicing Indeterminate VFT 49 days
Health Kick Plum type tomato Determinate 72 days
Jetstar Medium slicing Indeterminate VF 72 days
La Roma III Small tomato Determinate VF1&2N 69 days
Lemon Boy Medium-sized yellow Indeterminate VFNASt 72 days
Patio Medium slicing Determinate VASt 70 days
Super Fantastic Medium slicing Indeterminate VFN 70 days
Tomatillo Produces 2-3 oz fruit Indeterminate 65 days
Cherry Varieties Classification Type Resistance Days to Harvest
Cherry Falls Large cherry Indeterminate 72 days
Gardener’s Delight Cherry Indeterminate 65 days
Juliet Cherry plum Indeterminate 60 days
Red Grape Red grape Indeterminate 75 days
Sun Sugar Yellow cherry Indeterminate FT 62 days
Supersweet 100 Cherry Indeterminate VFN 65 days
Sweet Chelsea Large cherry Indeterminate VFFNT 65 days
Tumbler Cherry Determinate 49 days
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