Selecting Tomato Varieties
Yavapai County Cooperative Extension
Tomato Variety Selection
If you don’t grow your own tomato plants from seed you are often limited to the varieties available at commercial nurseries. There are hundreds if not thousands of tomato varieties. If possible, buy them at a Farmer’s Market or from small local growers. The tomato transplant should not be root bound; you should see some white roots on the outside of the root ball. Plants having three or four true leaves are ideal for planting and the biggest plant is not always the best when looking at tomato transplants.
Most of the commonly available, nursery grown varieties have capital letters on the label. These may look something like "VFFNTA". The letters refer to their resistance to common tomato diseases. V stands for verticillium wilt, F for fusarium (multiple F's stand for variety a and b). N for nematodes, T for tobacco mosaic virus, and A for Alternaria stem rot canker.
If you plan to grow obscure or heirloom varieties, you will need to plan ahead and grow them from seed.
Determinate vs Indeterminate / Heirloom vs Hybrid
Tomato varieties are either determinate or indeterminate. Determinate varieties reach a certain size, then stop growing foliage and start producing fruit. Indeterminate varieties grow a bit, set some fruit, grow some more, set more fruit, etc. until the plant dies. Heirloom/open pollinated varieties are those that have been passed down for generations with an excellent taste and more open spaces in the fruit. Hybrid tomato varieties are those with disease resistance, uniform growth and fruiting characteristics, and may have less intense tomato flavor than the heirloom types.
Yavapai County Master Gardener Tomato Survey Results
Yavapai County Master Gardeners have been reporting the results of the different tomato varieties they have grown since 2012.
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