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Larimer County Tomato Trials   arrow

Tomato Trials

Members of the Colorado State University Extension Master Gardener program in Larimer County completed two tomato trials.

One trial consisted of 12 early-maturing, in-ground varieties that was conducted in 2019 & 2021. The second trial conducted in 2020 & 2021 featured 3 small-fruited varieties for containers.

Top-performing Varieties:

After evaluating two years of data, Hybrid New Girl was the earliest maturing and had the highest fruit yield in the field trials.  Blind taste tests were utilized to determine what varieties had the best flavor. Hybrid New Girl was rated as having the best flavor for 2019 and 2021.  

For the container varieties tested, Hybrid Patio Choice Yellow stood out as an early, high-yielding, large cherry size variety whose compact plant habit cascaded over the container.  

In-Ground Varieties Trial Details

Jon Weiss, CSU Extension Master Gardener in Larimer County
Alison O’Connor, PhD, Horticulture Agent, CSU Extension

View a PDF of these results here (link opens in a new tab)

Materials & Methods:

Hybrid and open-pollinated tomato varieties were included, along with determinate (bush) and indeterminate growth habits. The trial design for both years were replicated and randomized. Tomatoes were grown in the greenhouse and transplanted on June 5, 2019, and June 10, 2021 at the CSU ARDEC-South research farm. Tomatoes in 2019 were planted into ground beds covered with black plastic and irrigated with drip irrigation. Tomatoes in 2021 were planted into ground beds without black plastic and irrigated via furrow irrigation. Harvesting was done as needed as individual varieties ripened.

Results:

By comparing the tables, some varieties were consistent year to year, despite differing temperatures, growing season length, and weather events (hail). Overall, the trial results offer the home gardener valuable information to help determine what varieties to grow in northern Colorado.

Table 1. Maturity, Yield, and Fruit Size

VarietyMaturity* 2019Maturity* 2021Yield – lbs. 2019Yield – lbs. 2021Average Fruit
Size – oz. 2019
Average Fruit
Size – oz. 2021
Polbig245.152.23.73.1
Valley Girl240.8967.12.52.9
Celebrity35369.14.64
Early Girl252.864.92.32.9
New Girl1182.992.82.32.3
Moskvich317.355.31.62.6
Carbon361.471.3**5.95.9
Chef’s Choice Black342914.45.2
Big Beef276.884.44.63.9
Mtn. Fresh Plus37.204.90
Mtn. Merrit22.704.70
Mtn. Rogue18.703.40
Galahad204902.7
Defiant2068.602.4
Damsel3054.903.4
*Maturity for 2019: 1 = first variety harvested
*Maturity for 2021: 1 = first variety harvested while 3 = later maturing varieties

Table 2. Flavor

VarietyTexture 2019Texture 2021Sweetness 2019Sweetness 2021Overall Flavor
2019
Overall Flavor
2021
Polbig3.52.92.61.62.92.3
Valley Girl22.52.11.722.4
Celebrity3.42.62.31.83.12.6
Early Girl32.92.232.53.2
New Girl3.63.12.83.13.23.4
Moskvich2.82.42.72.72.83.1
Carbon2.62.72.922.72.7
Chef’s Choice Black2.72.53.22.43.22.8
Big Beef2.82.82.222.72.9
Mtn. Fresh Plus000
Mtn. Merit2.92.22.2
Mtn. Rouge3.22.82.7
Galahad32.42.8
Defiant2.21.52.3
Damsel2.833.2
Table 2:
New Girl had the best overall flavor for 2019 and 2021. Others to consider are Early Girl, Chef’s Choice Black, and Moskvich, which had higher overall flavor ratings.

The Larimer County CMGs wish to acknowledge the support of the following: Mark Uchanski, PhD, CSU Specialty Crops Program, Jane Davey, CSU Specialty Crops Program, and Karen Collins, Larimer County Master Gardener, photo credits.

Container Varieties Trial Details

View a PDF of these results here (opens in a new tab)

Jon Weiss, CSU Extension Master Gardener in Larimer County
Alison O’Connor, PhD, Horticulture Agent, CSU Extension

Purpose

There has been an explosion of interest in the growing of fresh vegetables by homeowners around the country. Many of these homeowners have extremely limited space and are looking for varieties to fill that confined space.

Small-fruited tomato (i.e., cherry, pear, grape)varieties are popular, but the vast majority have alarger, sprawling plant habit that may not work for small spaces. To address this issue, the LarimerCounty Master Gardeners conducted a three-variety evaluation trial. The varieties in the trial have a more compact habit and are commercially available.

Varieties

  • Patio Choice Yellow (round yellow fruit)
  • Cherry Falls (round cherry fruit)
  • Totem (round cherry fruit)

Methodology

Tomatoes were seeded and grown in the greenhouse, until transplanting on June 6, 2021into large containers as part of the CSU AnnualFlower Trials. Each container had a single plant and were irrigated and fertilized via drip irrigation. Five containers per variety were utilized (with the exception of Totem that only had four replications). The plants were randomized within the allotted area and grown by trial staff.
Maturity, yield, and average fruit size were collected for each variety.

Results

Cherry Falls was an early maturing variety with a compact, somewhat open growth habit. Totem had a dense growth habit and was the latest maturing of the three. Patio ChoiceYellow was as early as Cherry Falls, with larger fruit, and higher yield. Overall, the results offer the home gardener valuable information to help determine what varieties to grow in northern Colorado.

Variety Yield Results (ounces)

Harvest DateCherry FallsPatio Choice YellowTotem*
8/1016.925.62.2
8/1790.095.218.8
8/2449.0175.162.6
8/3149.0195.060.0
9/715.0108.488.4
9/1411.039.360.4
9/212.411.939.4
Average Fruit
Size (ounces)
0.30.60.2
*Yield based on four plants

Variety Harves Totals (pounds)

Cherry FallsPatio Choice YellowTotem*
Total harvested
fruit (pounds)
15.740.720.7
Average harvest per
plant (pounds)
3.18.15.1
*Yield based on four plants

No endorsement of products mentioned is intended, nor is criticism implied of products not mentioned.

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