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Paste Tomato High Tunnel Variety Trials

The overall objective of this program is to identify tomato cultivars that have promise as successful fresh market varieties for Pennsylvania.

Consumers today increasingly demand high quality, full flavored produce. In addition, the single most important trend in produce is the demand for locally produced fruits and vegetables. While consumers vary in their definition of “locally produced” there is no doubt that good flavor is one important characteristic that comes in their package of expectations. Pennsylvania is ideally located to grow and market high quality tomatoes to meet the demands of Mid-Atlantic consumers. Tomatoes are the number one vegetable in value to PA growers.

The overall objective of this program is to identify tomato cultivars that have promise as successful fresh market varieties for Pennsylvania. One of the great challenges of this selection process is sorting through the many varieties of tomatoes available every year both on the market and making their way through the breeding process for inclusion in the trial. Another challenge is balancing the needs of larger commercial growers with the somewhat different demands of the direct market grower. Specifically, 1) Evaluate cultivars based on their ability to produce under typical grower conditions. 2) Identify cultivars that are considered superior in flavor and appearance. And, 3) Consider packable yield based on fresh market tomato standards. Our hope is that any producer of tomatoes can examine the annual report from this program and gain some assistance in selecting cultivars for their next seasons’ production. Funding for this program has been provided by the Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association (PVGA) through their Marketing Research Program.

Since this program began in 2000, many of the tomatoes that have been reviewed are now local and Mid-Atlantic grower standards. Every year, we compare the varieties that are considered local standards to the newest coming out of the plant breeders. One of the biggest changes in the twelve years of the program has been the increase in flavor from the newest releases. Breeders have listened to consumer and grower demands for more flavorful tomatoes that still produce marketable yields. This years’ trial is focused on paste / Roma types due to their increasing market demand.

A tasting is planned for August 6, 2013 at the PSU SE Research and Extension Center during the PA Vegetable Growers Association Annual Field Day. Remarks from this tasting will be included with more objective measurements in the annual report.

About the Researcher:
Steve Bogash is currently a Horticulture Educator serving Pennsylvania out of the Franklin County office in Chambersburg. He covers vegetables, small fruit, cut flowers, greenhouse vegetables, and specialty marketing as his primary areas of responsibility. Tomatoes, bell peppers, container vegetable, cucumbers, and other specialty crops are regular items in the trial gardens under Steve’s management.   Since 2008, Steve has been doing extensive trials on container-grown vegetables in addition to his high tunnel and field tomato evaluation program started in 2000. Evaluating more than 300 varieties of tomatoes for flavor, appearance, disease resistance and general usability has made Steve very opinionated when it comes to tomato varieties. Steve lives with his wife, Roberta and son, Joe in Newville, PA and is looking to create a vineyard and greenhouse business as a post-retirement form of entertainment.

Contact Information:
Phone:  717-263-9226
Email:  smb13@psu.edu