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Growing Tomatoes. Advanced Master Gardner Training-2005. Chuck Marr Horticulture Kansas State University. Commercial Varieties Translate well Not controversial. ‘University’ Varieties Represent the state Not time consuming. Tomato Names and Numbers. Amelia Crista Quincy

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growing tomatoes

Growing Tomatoes

Advanced Master Gardner Training-2005

Chuck Marr


Kansas State University

tomato names and numbers
Commercial Varieties

Translate well

Not controversial

‘University’ Varieties

Represent the state

Not time consuming

Tomato Names and Numbers




BHN 555, 543, 444 etc

Mountain Fresh, “ Crest, “ Spring

Florida 47, Florida 91, Florida 7514

characteristics of tomato plant
Characteristics of tomato plant
  • Consistent, even watering
  • Consistent, even temperature
  • Harvest for 5-7 weeks
  • Hard to shift from vegetative to fruit development
  • Plant covered with glandular hairs filled with an alkaloid substance (greenish white)
tomato roots and fertilization
Tomato roots and fertilization
  • Fibrous, dense root system
  • Effective in finding fertilizer
  • Easy to ‘overfertilize’

Tomato fruit develop from flowers that are open for about 3 days. Flowers almost always self-pollenized. It takes 30 days for a fruit to develop to a full sized, green- ready to ripen (another 5-7 days to ripen)


Blossom End Rot (BER)

Brown leathery patch on bottom of tomato fruit.

Deficiency of calcium in fruit from calcium moving in water stream bypassing the fruit. Underdeveloped root system, watering fluctuations, or lush, succulent growth are all potential causes.

Avoid sidedressing with ammonium forms of N fertilizer. (common one is urea).


Calcium nitrate

Liquid N

Organic sources

  • Some varieties are prone
  • Cold nights in early in fruit development

Don’t start too early in the season.

Soil temperature should be a consistent 55 F. Check soil temperature at late morning at a 2 inch depth.

Below critical soil temperature, plant roots don’t develop and plants don’t absorb nutrients properly.

Plants may survive but don’t ‘thrive’

Average freeze date April 18
    • 50 % April 18
    • 40 % April 21
    • 30 % April 24
    • 20% April 28
    • 10% May 3
    • 5% May 7

Date that soil temperatures reach 55 F is usually when average freeze date is from 10-20% chance of a freeze or 10-14 days after average freeze date.

vine productive only 6 7 weeks
Vine productive only 6-7 weeks
  • Early spring planting (early May)
  • Summer planting (mid-late June)

June July August Sept Oct

modern tomato varieties
‘Modern’ tomato varieties
  • Semi-determinate (‘determinate’) vine
  • Uniform ripening genetic trait
  • Multiple disease resistance
  • Meaty, firm fruit
  • Heat tolerant genetic trait (Hot Set)
semi determinate or determinate compact vine habit
Semi-Determinate or “Determinate”-”Compact” Vine Habit

Standard vine Determinate/Compact vine

advantages of compact vine
Advantages of Compact Vine
  • Adapted to raised bed culture
  • Short cages or ‘stake-weave’
  • More stable in wind
  • Use less water and fertilizer
  • Closer spacing-more plants per row
  • Yields comparable to large vined types
semi determinate vine habit
Semi-determinate vine habit
  • More efficient in ‘partitioning carbohydrates’- leaf area supporting plant and fruit development
  • Slower to ‘re-grow’ following damage (hail insects etc)



Leaf area to support fruit development (and new vine growth)

uniform ripening ug gene
Uniform Ripening (UG Gene)

Fruit ripens uniformly- top to bottom and inside-outside. Uniformly ripe. No ‘green shoulder’ or waste when using.

meaty firm fruit
Meaty Firm Fruit
  • Fruit holds into slices
  • Can be chopped or diced
  • Does not soften easily when stacked
  • Modern consumers prefer
  • Not irregular or rough like a ‘beefsteak’ type

Fusarium wilt (2 Races or Strains F1 and F2)

Fusarium wilt is a soil borne fungus that will persist from 8-12 years


Race 3-some varieties


Leaf blight diseases (Early Blight and Septoria Leaf Spot)

Older leaves on plant. Usually after fruit load has developed


Tomato Spotted Wilt (TSW) Virus

  • Stunted plants, purplish color. Mottled, marbled fruit
  • Spread by western flower thrips-primarily in greenhouse or transplants.

Some varieties are resistant.

Treatment is very difficult

Nematode Damage to Tomato Roots

South of I-70 where problem is most significant (over-wintering)

‘Upgraded’ varieties with nematode resistance

Celebrity= Celebrity Supreme

Mt Fresh= Mt Fresh Plus


Blossom drop from excessive summer heat.

Daytime 95 F, Night 75 F

Excessive N; Hot, dry winds make problem worse

A genetic trait- usually referred to as the Hot Set or Heat Set gene allows tomatoes to set under heat conditions.

Many new varieties now are being developed with the Hot Set gene incorporated.


Sun Leaper and Sunmaster have done well. Several newer varieties coming along with this characteristic.

Florida 91


Some internal characteristics of tomato fruit where flavor differences are noted

Seed cavity

Locular jelly

Placental tissues

firm vs juicy fruits
Firm vs ‘juicy’ fruits

Tomatoes that have more flesh and less seed cavity, locular jelly are less flavorful.

Internal flesh contains fewer flavor compounds

Have to bite into cells to release contents.

Many newer tomato varieties are firmer by consumer preference.

tomato ripening
Tomato Ripening
  • Tomatoes produce an internal gas- ethylene- that ‘drives’ the ripening process….

“Mature-green’ stage

tomato ripening stages
Immature green

Mature green



Orange Red

Red ripe

Significant loss of flavor

Some loss of flavor, sugar

Less loss of flavor

Very little flavor differences

Tomato Ripening Stages
turning to ripe stage
Turning to Ripe Stage
  • Significant losses of flavor if harvested before ‘mature green stage’
  • Slight loss of flavor if harvested before ‘turning stage’
  • Practically no loss of flavor after ‘turning’ stage
  • About 40-50% of commercial US tomatoes are harvested before they reach the mature green stage (estimated)
cold injury to tomatoes influences flavor
Cold injury to tomatoes influences flavor.
  • Mature Green-Turning tomatoes >55o F
  • Ripe tomatoes >50o F

Tomatoes stored between 40 and 50 degrees can have significant losses of flavor. Aroma compounds decline- sourness increases

Tomatoes stored at 65 F or above had little significant changes in flavor due to any cold storage treatment.

Length and temperature combine to injure fruit

“Preconditioning” is a current area of study

over fertilization can reduce tomato flavor
Over-fertilization can reduce tomato flavor…
  • Very high levels of nitrogen and potassium have been associated with poor flavor in tomatoes
  • Certain volatile compounds increase with increasing fertilizer levels
    • Higher volatile levels (of 12 measured compounds)
    • pH unchanged
    • Soluble solids (sugars) slight increase
    • % citric acid slight increase
differences among us
Differences Among Us
  • Age
    • Youth- sweet
    • Older- bitter
  • Age dulls the senses
  • Illness or physical limitations (colds, etc)
  • Male vs female
    • Musk aromas sensed differently
  • Ethnicity or background
    • What we like established by what we’re exposed to
  • “Life Altering Experiences”
some varieties to consider
Celebrity (Supreme)

Florida 47

Mt. Spring

Mt. Fresh

Mt. Crest



Florida 91 (Hot Set)

Sunmaster (Hot Set)

Sun Leaper (Hot Set)





Florida 7514

Some varieties to consider

K-State-Research & Extension

“Knowledge for Life”