Field trials conducted by regional scientists and universities generally determine which varieties of tomatoes will perform best for the commercial market, which produces over 400,000 acres of tomatoes every year, according to the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. Most commercial varieties are determinate, meaning they are bushier and have a defined period of flower and fruit development. Greenhouse producers, however, rely on indeterminate varieties, which produce over a longer harvest season. Variables such as soil type and time of planting will effect the quality and yield of a commercial tomato crop.
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Standard Commercial Varieties
Growers prefer disease-resistant varieties that are adaptable to their region and produce a competitive yield, although they must also have enough foliage to protect the fruit on the vine. Varieties that have performed well in field trials include Sunstart, which has an early yield and a short production season; Mountain Spring, which has heavy fruit loads but is susceptible to leaf diseases; Florida 91, which produces uniform fruit in midseason, and Mountain Fresh Plus, which is resistant to leaf diseases.
Commercial heirlooms are generally open-pollinated varieties introduced prior to 1940. They are prized for their range of flavours, but can be difficult to produce commercially because they are often fragile and susceptible to disease. Varieties that have performed will in field tests include Lemon Boy, a yellow hybrid with strong plants; Persimmon, which yields large, golden-orange fruit; Mortgage lifter, which produces large, pink to red fruit with a strong tomato flavour and Box Car Willie, a heavy producer that is resistant to foliar disease.
Most field varieties do not perform well in greenhouses. But growers must still consider light intensity, fertility and disease resistance when selecting varieties. Performance will vary by region. The Louisiana State University Agricultural Center recommends Trust, the most productive and disease-resistant in its tests, Grace and--for cluster production--Tradiro. Oregon State University recommends Capello, Cobra, Laura, Trust, Trend, Caruso, Dombito and Jumbo.
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