There are over 10,000 known varieties of tomatoes. All those choices make selecting the ideal tomato interesting and fun. As you try to decide on the type or types of tomatoes you wish to grow, there are several considerations you will want to keep in mind. Some of the major considerations are:
- Tendency for fruit splitting
- Disease resistance
Here are some terms that you will come across as you learn about tomatoes.
- Hybrids: produced when one type of tomato is crossed with another type to produce a new type with mixed characteristics. Hybrid seeds must be purchased every year because seeds from a hybrid plant will produce varied offspring with different characteristics from the parent.
- Heirloom tomatoes: are self-pollinators that have bred true for 40 years or more. That is, an heirloom tomato will continue to produce tomatoes of identical characteristics from generation to generation. Heirloom is analogous to “pure-bred.”
- Cultivar: Cultivated variety of plant that has been selected for desirable characteristics such as color, form of flower, yield of crop, disease resistance, etc. When propagated correctly the plants retain the special characteristics.
- Determinate: or bush type bear full crop all at once and top off at a specific height. Good for container growing. Good for home growers who are interested in canning.
- Indeterminate: or vines continue to grow in length and continue to produce tomatoes until killed by frost. Good for gardeners who want ripe fruit throughout the season.
- Semi-determinate: top off like determinates but produce a second crop after the first crop.
Tomatoes are classified in a number of ways according to different characteristics and ideal climates. Here are the classifications and a few of the many examples of the varieties of tomatoes that fit that particular classification.
Shape and size
- Globe or slicing tomatoes are the commercial tomatoes.
- Cherry tomatoes are the size of cherries or smaller.
- Plum tomatoes are also known as paste tomatoes and have high solid content for use in tomato sauce and paste.
- Grape tomatoes are smaller variation of plum tomatoes.
- Campari tomatoes are in between cherry and plum tomatoes in size and are sweet and juicy and low in acidity.
- Beefsteak are large and symmetrical.
- Oxhearts are heart shaped.
- Paste suitable for sauces and chutneys
- Drying have minimum of moisture and dry quickly.
- Stuffing have hollow cavities that make them easy to stuff with fillings.
Time to Fruit
- Cherry 75 days
- Full size 85 days
- Medium 100 days
- Late 110 days
- Cool climate varieties: suitable for climates with a short growing season. For example:
- Ailsa Craig
- Black Russian
- San Marzano
- Hot Climate varieties: as the name implies, these are suitable for growing in hot climates. For example:
- Georgia Streak