University of Illinois Extension
Bruce Spangeberg

These articles are written to apply to the northeastern corner of Illinois. Problems and timing may not apply outside of this area.

Stateline Yard & Garden

All Tomato Varieties Certainly Not the Same

May 15, 1997

Many gardeners will be going to local garden center outlets to purchase tomato plants to put in the garden. Some will purchase whatever plant looks good, while others have a specific cultivar or two in mind. Are there differences? Definitely!

Tomato varieties differ in fruit characteristics, maturity date, plant size and growth habits, and disease resistance. Consider your needs before purchasing the plants.

Disease resistance is an important factor in the decision, as disease-resistant varieties are likely to produce a crop even under disease stress. Look for resistance to vertillium and fusarium wilt diseases, designated by V and F or FF(races 1 and 2), respectively, after the variety name. Resistance to Root-knot nematode(N), Tobacco Mosaic virus(T) and Alternaria(A) may also be found.

Fruit may vary in size, color, best use, and relative time for harvest. The first-early red varieties will be ready in a short period of time but fruit size is on the small side. Some first-early varieties include Sub Arctic Plenty, Early Cascade(VF), Early Girl (V), and Quick Pick (VFFNTA). Medium-early varieties include Champion(VFNT) and Mountain Spring(VF).

Main crop varieties tend to have larger fruit and tend to make up the majority of the main crop harvest. Suggested varieties include Celebrity (VFFNT), Mountain Delight(VF), Fantastic, Better Boy(VFN), Mountain Pride(VF), Floramerica(VF), Burpee's Big Girl(VF), and Supersonic(VF).

Small fruited salad type tomatoes tend to be vigorous growers and produce lots of small fruit. Varieties include Super Sweet 100(VF), Sweet Million(FNT), Yellow Pear, Large Red Cherry, and Mountain Belle(VF). Paste tomatoes, including Veeroma(VF), Roma(VF), San Marzano, and Viva Italia(VFN), are often used for pastes and canning whole.

Finally, there are the popular dwarf container or patio tomatoes, ideal for planters, hanging baskets, etc. Varieties include Tiny Tim, Cherry Gold, Red Robin, Yellow Canary, Pixie Hybrid II, Patio Hybrid, Small Fry, and Husky Red, Yellow, or Pink Hybrids(VF).

These are just some of the more popular varieties and types of tomatoes. Stop by your local garden center and check out the ones best for your use this season!


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