New Jersey Cherry and Grape Tomato Variety Trials
By Dorothy Noble
The Tomato Magazine
The market for cherry and grape tomatoes keeps growing.
The popularity of grape tomatoes especially has surged in many regions.
However, limited seed availability for ‘Santa,’ the first
tomato marketed as a grape tomato, persists. Consequently, tomato breeders
have introduced other varieties of grape tomatoes. New varieties of cherry
tomatoes continue to be developed as well.
Growers in the sandy soil, tomato-producing areas of New Jersey are renowned
for their tasty Jersey tomatoes. These Garden State producers also enjoy
certain climate and location advantages for access to the sizeable Northeast
New Jersey growers would like cherry and grape varieties similar to ‘Santa,’ but
with a more determinate plant type.
Dr. Wesley Kline, agricultural agent for Rutgers Cooperative Extension
in Cumberland County, N.J., shared the results of his fresh market cherry
and grape tomato variety trials at the recent 2006 Mid-Atlantic Fruit
and Vegetable Convention in Hershey, Pa.
In 2003, Kline studied 23 promising lines at Bald Eagle Farms, Harrisonville,
N.J. The varieties ranged from open pollinated heirlooms and heirloom
sports to hybrids recently developed specifically for the commercial
market. A follow-up trial in 2005 repeated three of the varieties and
Plant habit, earliness and fruit characteristics were evaluated to determine
the feasibility of producing small-fruited tomato varieties for the wholesale
and roadside markets.
The seeds were sown in 72-cell trays with tomato-formulated peat-vermiculite
media drenched in Admire. In 2003, the seeds were started on April 7.
After a 10-day delay because of wet conditions, on May 19 the transplants
were set 18 inches apart on raised beds with five-foot centers. In 2005,
the varieties were transplanted in the field on May 10 and spaced 24
inches in the row. According to soil tests recommendations, four applications
of NPK at 40 lbs./A were used through the drip irrigation system. In
the last application,
2 lbs./A boron was added. Prior to bedding, nitrogen at 65 lbs./A was
Black plastic mulch was used both years. Depending on the variety, 4-
to 6-foot stakes were placed. Plants were pruned to three shoots below
the main fork.
Fruits were hand harvested on July 30 in the 2003 trial and July 18 in
2005 to determine early yield. After separating into usable and culls,
any major defects were recorded. Cracking accounted for the most culls,
with some varieties exhibiting yellow eye, small fruit, and green shoulders.
Fruits were harvested three additional times in August and finally on
Sept. 9, 2003. At the August 7 harvest, a sample of 20 representative
fruit from each plot was used to evaluate fruit size and external and
internal characteristics. In the 2005 trial, the tomatoes were first
harvested July 18, and the last of seven total harvests was made on Aug.
30. Some fruit remained on the plants after these final harvests; most
of these varieties could continue producing until frost.
Plant height and vigor; fruit firmness, internal color and white tissue
were ranked. The percent marketable yield plus the total marketable yield
were calculated in 2003.
Although many varieties possessed desirable attributes, Kline pointed
to those that showed the most overall promise for New Jersey production.
Growers should note that variations in different seasons as well as growing
conditions could alter results.
Of the red cherry varieties, ‘Favorita’ rated very good for
color, appearance and packout characteristics. The flavorful, 0.45 oz.
medium firm fruit explodes in the mouth. Its vigorous plant reached 7.5
feet. The medium large plant yielded 490 lbs./A early, with almost 33,992
lbs./A for the season. Marketable yield was 96 percent.
Seminis’ unnamed, red cherry variety, ‘S 151496,’ showed
excellent color, appearance and packout. Medium firm, its 0.49 oz. fruit
had excellent sweet flavor. The early yields were 443 lbs./A, while the
season yield was 28,327 lbs./A from the 7.7 feet plant. Its marketable
yield measured 97 percent in the 2003 trial and 93 percent in the 2005
Snow White,’ a medium soft, excellently colored yellow cherry produced
fruit weighing 0.46 oz. The large vine stretched over 9 feet. The early
yield count was 166 lbs./A, while the season yielded 18,667 lbs./A. ‘Snow
White’ had a marketable yield of 92 percent.
Cupid’ had good color and appearance, excellent firmness and packout.
The flavor of the 0.56 oz. red fruits was very good. Its vine topped
8 feet. Early yields numbered 469 lbs./A with season yields of 28,139
lbs./A. The marketable yield was calculated at 97 percent.
St. Nick’ exhibited very good red color and appearance, excellent
firmness and packout. Its vine went to 8.7 feet. The 0.40 oz. fruit had
good flavor. The early yield amounted to 380 lbs./A, and the season yield
reached 22,444 lbs./A. This grape tomato had a marketable yield of 90
Tami G’ demonstrated very good red color, appearance and firmness.
Packout quality was excellent. The flavor rated good. It showed some
size variability in the 0.31 oz. fruit. The very large vines, 8.8 feet
high, produced 362 lbs./A early with 22,398 lbs./A for the season. The
marketable yield for ‘Tami G’ measured 92 percent.
Jolly Elf’ had good color and appearance and excellent firmness.
The 0.32 oz. red fruits had some yellow eye and cracking. Flavor was
good, and the determinate vine was medium in size. The early yield count
was 399 lbs./A, and the season yield numbered 20,075 lbs./A. Marketable
yield was 79 percent in the first trial and appeared to be 83 percent
Sweet Olive’ has a determinate vine. It produced 0.30 oz. fruits
with very good flavor, red color, appearance and firmness. Some yellow
eye and cracking were present. The early yields reached 902 lbs./A with
a season yield of 27,874 lbs./A. The marketable yield was 85 percent.
Smarty’ showed good color, excellent appearance and very good firmness.
The compact indeterminate vine produced sweet flavored 0.25 oz. fruits.
Some were small. (Because this variety was not available in 2003, yield
comparisons cannot be made. However, in the 2005 trial its percentage
of marketable yield was observed as 85 percent.)
Large Grape and Saladette
The large red grape, ‘Juliet’ at 0.88 oz. exhibited very
good color and appearance with excellent packout quality. Its large vines
yielded medium firm fruits with good flavor early. The early yield amounted
to 489 lbs./A, and the yield for the season was 36,197 lbs./A. ‘Juliet’ had
a marketable yield of 90 percent.
The saladette, ‘Cherry Blossom,’ weighed close to 1 oz. Its
round, red, medium firm fruit had very good color, appearance and packout.
The 4.5 feet determinate plants yielded 473 lbs./A early and 41,590 lbs./A
for the season. Its marketable yield was calculated at 80 percent.
The varieties used in 2003 were BHN 268, BHN YC1, Camelia, Cherry Blossom,
Cherry Brandywine, Cupid F, Dr. Carolyn, Favorita, Garden Peach, Isis
Candy, Jolly Elf, Juane Flamme, Juliet, Morning Light, Red Light, S 151496,
St. Nick, Sweet Million, Sweet Olive, Sweet 100, Sun Cherry, Snow White,
and Tami G. Cupid, Jolly Elf and S 151496 were again studied in 2005,
along with Green Grape, NC 042, NC 0463, S-9137, S-9149, Smarty, Sunsugar
and Sweet Baby Girl. The tomato shapes included round, deep round, elongated,
pear, cherry, large cherry, oblate and grape. Red, yellow, orange and
golden colors were represented. The fruit weight ranged from 0.25 oz.
to 1 oz.
The seeds were obtained from a number of sources, including BHN Seeds,
Harris Moran, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Marianna’s, North
Carolina State, Rupp Seeds, Sakata, Seedway, Seed Savers Exchange, Seeds
of Change, Seminis, Siegers Seeds, Stokes and Tomato Growers Supply Co.
These sources all have websites.
© 2006 Columbia Publishing
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