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Tomatoes--Something Old...Something New


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Kansas Community Garden Conference
July 7, 2014
Dr. Chuck Marr

Many changes have been developed in tomato varieties over the years. This presentation will trace why these changes have occurred, what characteristics are available in tomatoes today, and advantages and disadvantages of choosing certain varieties to grow in Kansas gardens.

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Tomatoes--Something Old...Something New

  1. 1. Dr Chuck Marr Professor (Emeritus) of Vegetable Crops Kansas State University
  2. 2. Vine type Fruit color and shape Internal characteristics Disease resistance Set fruit in heat Flavor Vitamin A content Redness
  3. 3. Northern Europe Southern Europe Andes Mountains
  4. 4.  Only since 1880s that tomatoes were commonly eaten (in the US)  Canned tomatoes and soup in early 1900s  Commercial tomato seed companies in 1920s  First commercial tomato harvester in 1950s  Disease resistance in 1950s and 1960s  ‘Supermarket’ in 1960s  Farmers Markets in 1970s  Nutrition and health emphasis 2000s
  5. 5. Unusual shapes and colors Varied texture and flavors Unique stories
  6. 6. Large, branched vine Irregular shaped fruit Fruit develops through the season Develops ‘suckers’ Plant uses water & fertilizer
  7. 7. More consistent fruit size Round or oblate shape More uniform color
  8. 8. Fruits have high solids Deep red color ‘Meaty’ Many varieties with elongated shape Makes a thick, rich, deep-red colored product for canning, sauces, and salsa
  9. 9. Plants grow, bloom and set fruit at one time Harvest all the fruit at one time Minimal vine- lots of fruit Early development by Campbell and Heinz with later emphasis in determinate vine (one-time harvest)
  10. 10. Fusarium wilt No known control Plants wilt and die in several weeks Persists for 10-15 years in soil There are 2 ‘races’ or strains (3rd in the South) F1,2 or FF Another ‘wilt’ called Verticillium is not in Kansas
  11. 11. Resistant root system as rootstock Soil-borne fungal diseases Grafting is expensive 1. Grow 2 plants 2. Labor of grafting 3. Place in ‘healing chamber’ 4. 1 Week longer
  12. 12. Leaf Blight (Early Blight and Septoria Leaf Spot) Young leaves immune Older leaves on plant. Usually after fruit load has developed Warm, humid conditions make it worse Is grafting useful?
  13. 13. Avoid excess fertilizer Keep foliage dry Dense, tight foliage Remove blight leaves Heavy yields=blight Spray upper/lower surfaces Dense Foliage Loose Foliage Heavy Set
  14. 14. Iron Lady (Cornell & NC State) Small (5 oz) Questionable flavor Not much enthusiasm The ‘good news’ is that the genetics are now identified and gradually working them into larger, more flavorful, more productive tomatoes should progress…. Stay tuned……
  15. 15. Nematode Damage to Tomato Roots Nearly impossible to treat Resistant varieties (followed by an N or Mi) Only portions of Kansas Healthy Swollen roots and knots caused by nematodes
  16. 16. Misshapen, deformed, or mottled leaves Stunting Plants at random No control Transmitted by insects Resistance available in several new varieties Tobacco mosaic Tomato mosaic Tomato spotted wilt Tomato ‘yellows’ Tomato leaf curl virus
  17. 17. Standard vine Determinate/Compact vine
  18. 18. Little/no pruning Short cages or ‘stake- weave’ More stable in wind Use less water and fertilizer Closer spacing-more plants per row Yields equal/more than large vined types
  19. 19. More efficient in ‘partitioning carbohydrates’- leaf area supporting plant and fruit development Slower to ‘re-grow’ following damage (hail insects etc) ‘Peak’ in yield Leaf area to support fruit development (and new vine growth) Semi- Determinate Indeterminate
  20. 20. 0 5 10 15 20 25 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 LB/6Plants Harvest Week Tomato Yield 2013 Mortgage Lifter BHN 871 102 Lb 143 Lb (for 6 plants) Kansas-Missouri Tomato Trial 2013 Comparing an indeterminate ‘heirloom’ to a semi-determinate hybrid JULY AUGUST SEPTEMBER
  21. 21. Fruit ripens at the same time- all over. Called ‘Uniform Green’ gene
  22. 22. Modern supermarket Fruit are 100% useable. Don’t have to pack with the bottom side down Many modern tomato hybrids have this genetic trait
  23. 23. Temperature Daytime 95 F Nighttime 75F Hot, dry winds Excessive N
  24. 24. Sugars (glucose, fructose) Acids (citric, malic) Aromatic compounds cis-3-hexenal cis-3-hexenol hexanal 1-pentene-3-one 3-methyl butenal trans-2-hexanal 6 methyl-5- heptene-2-one 2-isobutyl thiazole B-ionone About 10 compounds – in a delicate balance- that control the subtle flavor in tomatoes
  25. 25. Tomato ground, extracted, filtered, and injected into chromatograph. Volatile compounds come off at different times and amounts Gas chromatograph
  26. 26. Once, thought to be present in very low concentrations- about the same in all varieties In 1998, found it had been underestimated- higher in ‘tastier’ tomatoes Genetic trait to increase just the right amount- bred and tested for 8-9 years Many now commercially available with higher ‘furaneol’ concentration. Usually described as ‘good flavor’ or ‘improved taste’. Now re-evaluating up to 400 volatile compounds in tomatoes 4-Hydroxy 2,5-dimethyl -3(2H)-furanone
  27. 27. BHN 871 (Yellow) BHN 876 (Tangerine Excellent yields BHN 871BHN 876 Scarlet Red BHN 871 BHN 876 Later and not quite as productive as BHN 871 ‘High Beta’ Tomatoes Not all yellow tomatoes are ‘high beta’. Some have slightly more than standard tomato
  28. 28. Increased lycopene (40%) Deeper red color External and internal color Blotchy Ripening OR Yellow Shoulder
  29. 29. Many seed companies and local suppliers have gone the corporate marketing route Wide national distribution Pre-printed tags Don’t change year-to-year Use the seed companies catering to Market Gardeners Harris Seeds Rupp Seeds (no on-line catalog) Stokes Seed Seedway (larger quantities) You need to work with local plant suppliers well in advance of the season (December to January) to let them know what you want.
  30. 30. Observational trials ‘Show and Tell’ Master Gardener trials Seed catalogs University research trials Local plant growers Garden events, socials, or newsletters
  31. 31. Salads Frozen Soup/sauces Fast, Easy, Preserve
  32. 32. K-State-Research & Extension “Knowledge for Life”