2017 Tomato Review

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

So, what tomatoes did well and which ones didn't for you?
Stupice: Heirloom Pumped out tomatoes early and all summer long. Small 1 1/2" tomato, not very tasty, not real juicy, makes for good roasting tomato.
Kellog's Breakfast: Heirloom Slow to get going as most heirlooms are.
Once it started producing tomatoes, it has been quite satisfactory. Very large tomatoes: 5" inches in diameter. Tasty, juicy, gets a little watery, doesn't last too long, once off of the vine. This makes a good sandwich tomato except it is very juicy.
Gold Medal: Has produced only one tomato to date. Delicious! Mostly gold with some red mixed in. Tomato is about 5" in diameter.
Meaty. Has not produced well but will grow it next year perhaps, in a more favorable location.
Cherokee Purple: Very tasty. Has started producing well just this week. About 4" in diameter. Meaty.
I will probably grow all of the above named tomatoes for the reasons mentioned. I am also going to grow a Better Boy or Big Boy along with the Heirlooms as I think it will produce earlier than the last of July at the earliest. What experience have you had with Better Boy or Big Boy? This is zone 6b.
Stupice produced relatively early. It wasn't the tastiest, but it was nice to get tomatoes early and enough to eat.
The small red ones are Stupice. The large red ones are Cherokee Purple, the gold ones are Kellog's Breakfast. (And the peppers are Jalapenos.)

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Cascade, VA(Zone 7a)

-Sweet Million (in photo #1): Lived up to its name, pretty much, nice and tasty!

-Black Vernissage (the pile of dark tomatoes on the right in photo #2): Good fruit production, it made an awesome pizza / spaghetti sauce!

-Green Berkley's Tie Dye: Grew up big and healthy, then pooped out from some kind of disease just as it was starting to attempt to set fruit :(

-Blue berries (the photo of an unripe developing fruit cluster): a variety sold by Bakers creek. As with most cherry tomatoes there was an explosion of fruit. The flavor was rather "blah!" though.

-Better Boy (in photo #4): The best producer of medium / large tomatoes out of my bunch that i grew this year.

We did have a pretty wet and humid summer, for the record. A bit more rainy than normal (i had mushrooms popping up in the garden) so that probably affected the tom's quite a bit.

This message was edited Aug 30, 2017 12:20 AM

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Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

Thanks for your response.
I've grown Green Tye Dye before. It's a little lemony to me. It was a fairly good producer.

Madison, IL(Zone 6b)

Even when the larger tomatoes are still green and long after the vines have died, I can still fill up on Sungold cherry tomatoes. They completely cover the trellis in no time.

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

We had a yellow currant tomato this year. Hubby pulled it out because he didn't want to pick all of the tiny tomatoes but man, it was very tasty.
Side Note: He's always pulling something out that I don't want pulled out. I told him to talk to me first!

Hornell, NY(Zone 5a)

I grew some of the more common O/Ps this year such as "Delicious", "Bush Beefsteak", "Costoluto Genovese" and "Large Red Cherry". We had a very good season here, and they all did quite well considering a somewhat rainy Spring and cool start.

Photo shows the Large Red Cherry in back and Costoluto (ribbed) in front. The third and fourth photos are from a miniature plant called "Sweet & Neat" grown in a two gallon container. Little girl is my garden helper Sydney who is my granddaughter.


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Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

I am done trying to raise tomatoes outdoors.
First picture is my Heirlooms outside. Second picture is in hoophouse.
Both pictures taken today.
Outside ones were sprayed with a fungicide. No treatment of any kind inside.
Inside are Arbason. Outside, Stupice, Mortgage Lifter, Brandywine, Giant Belgium.

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Cascade, VA(Zone 7a)

i have also noticed that growing tomatoes seems to be more of a challenge every year. Fungal infection and disease seem to be becoming more prevalent, despite having resistant tomato varieties.

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

This year has been better for me than the last 3 or 4. Go figure.
lycodad: nice tomatoes.
Country gardens: Don't know anything about Arbason. I guess it's an heirloom variety? Was it suggested that it would grow well inside? Looks very healthy.
We put hay bale straw around our tomatoes as soon as we get them planted. I think that helped ours this year. We put mulch down but, usually wait a week or two before we mulch them.

Westbrook, CT(Zone 6a)

Not a great year for tomatoes here. Lots of rain, blight and too many hungry critters.
Worth mentioning:
Best tasting: Polish
Best yield: Husky Red Cherry (very late maturing for some reason)
Best dwarf varieties: Summertime Gold, Bundaberg Rumball (grew it because the name appealed to me). Bundaberg (see pix) are small to medium tan fruits with a mild ok-not great-flavor, 4ft high plants that produced a lot of fruit fairly early, then died off.
Wierdest: Michael Pollan, an odd shaped small green variety that refused to ripen. Here it is Sept. and they are still hard as a rock. Only virtue is that the critters don't bother them as much.

I experimented with some mini varieties hoping to find one that would do well in a windowsill in winter. Wasn't impressed with Fantastico, House, Hahms Gelbe, Red Robin or Whippersnapper. Utyonok shows promise but is late ripening.

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Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

Arbason is a hybrid. It' bred for hoophouse growing. Indeterminate. Short internodes,
(space between tomato clusters.) We started picking ripe tomatoes June 20th. They will go until they freeze.

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Picking favorite tomatoes is like picking a favorite child. I love them all.

Despite heavier than normal amounts of rain the garden has stayed relatively disease free. The most notable observation is, though tomatoes are self-fertile, the past three years have yielded several natural hybrids; mostly saladette size. Golden Willie (Boxcar Willie x Sungold), now in it's third year, seems to be a stable saladette. Like Sungold, it is early. I've saved seed from those natural hybrids with potential but will need to go back to older seed next year for reliable varieties.

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Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

Nice tomatoes. Salad tomatoes produce early and continue late and are tasty!

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

Beautiful pics, everyone!

We're in the minor leagues of tomato growers compared to you all. We grew nineteen plants including:

Brandywine: very nice big tomato but a light producer for us.

Cherokee Purple: Love these. Complex flavor. Decent production.

Black Krim: Nice but I'd rather use the space for Cherokee Purples.

Cherry tomatoes: Sweet 100s? Not sure, but next year I'm going to be more choosey. Lots of little tomatoes but not as tasty as they should be.

Pear Tomatoes: OK but not great.

Beefsteak: Planted for my husband but he agrees he really like Cherokee Purples better.

Better Boy: Will skip the hybrids altogether next year. There are too many interesting heirlooms to plant in our limited space.

We had a pretty good growing season except for a family of opossums who raided the Cherokee Purples every night. Not sure what to do about them.

I have about 20 new packets of heirloom tomato seed for next year. I bought the books "Epic Tomatoes" by Craig LeHoullier and also "Tomatomania" by Scott Daigre to try to refine my tomato growing skills and I got a little carried away.

I think I'm going to have to lease a farm.... And I wish I had a hoop house!

Pls keep posting the pics!


Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

Nice eval, Tobasco.
I just put up one recipe of Salsa today. We had sooo many tomatoes. Hey, I'm not complaining. Too many tomatoes is a great problem to have!
We also have gobs of jalapenos.
We mostly have Kellog's Breakfast. It's a nice large tomato. It's a little watery and doesn't last real well. Our favorite this year is the Gold Medal. Gold Medal puts out a large tomato and has just started producing heavily. They are quite tasty, firm, meaty and a pretty color.
We grew Cherokee Purple but have liked Gold Medal best this year. Cherokee Purple has been stingy.
One tomato that I am considering growing next year is the Stupice. It's not very tasty but produced early and is still pumping them out. It's a small tomato but relative meaty, perhaps good for sauces. We used all we had in the Salsa and also some of the other three mentioned.
I know what you mean about space. For me, It's been much more productive to grow a few good ones instead of so many. Space is limited.
Hey, did the Better Boy and the Beefsteak produce considerably earlier than the Heirlooms? It takes so long for Heirlooms to start producing well. We are having a very late summer this year: 95* when it should be 77*. So, our heirlooms are putting out the nice big tomatoes. Other years, not so much. It starts getting cooler before the Heirlooms put out too many tomatoes. I'm considering growing a Beefsteak for earlier production.

Westbrook, CT(Zone 6a)

Three weeks later and I can come to some conclusions:
1.      Best performance this year: Husky Cherry Red. Excellent yield, good taste, disease resistant.
 2.     Best tasting: Lucky Cross. Mine were lumpier than the catalog pix, and only average yield, but excellent taste.
 3.     Best miniature: Utyonok. Plants only 18-24" high. Yield nothing to fill a basket with but better than the other 4 miniatures I tried this summer.
4.      Wierdest: Michael Pollan (alias Mint Julep). My green tomato experiment this season. I mentioned above how hard they were, but almost a month after they were picked my wife noticed they were a little softer (but still very firm). Slicing them into a salad, they had a pleasant mild taste, but still a little crunchy. Only pluses I can see is that they keep exceptionally long off the vine and the critters don't bother them as much as my other varieties. The M.P. fruits still on the plant are a little bigger and more pear shaped now, but still show no signs of the yellow tint that is supposed to indicate ripening. I probably won't grow these again. Anybody want seeds?

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Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Lycodad, the prettiest tomato is the cute yellow one behind the bowls. The Sydney. What do you think of Costoluto? Looks beautiful.

Don, you get extra points for creativity. I am not willing to do more than a couple of science experiments per year. A Michael Pollan tomato? Gotta be kidding. A big green would work well down South for fried green tomatoes but a small one...not so much. A number of DG years ago I participated in a Campari grow-out experiment. Good for two years and by three they were the right shape and color but no taste. By F4 and all four plants produced tomatoes that stayed green and never ripened. Three months later I had tomatoes on a tray and they were green rocks. Apparently a parent in this hybrid was geared to maintain firmness and stabilize ripening.

Tobasco, I grow Krims and Purples and think they are interchangeable in terms of flavor though one does better some years than the other. Yellow pear, though small, is favored by canners. I entered and won a yellow pear tomato jam recipe several years ago in the DG fair. It's an excellent roaster. Not every tomato should be destined for a career in salad or sandwiches. Finding the best culinary range of a tomato variety helps objectively determine its quality. If we are limiting ourselves to the best slice and eat tomatoes, well that's not necessarily the "best" tomato. Canning tomatoes have few seeds and are dense and dry. Some are okay as slicers but really don't stand up to the flavor profile of slicers. But their flavor as canned tomatoes are nonpareil. I grow Sherrill's Watermelon, a Tennessee heirloom gifted to me years ago here.

Birder, heirlooms (not capitalized) produce early and late. Many heirlooms are beefsteak-types and produce mid to late season.

We lost at least twenty pounds of tomatoes to Irma. Still having trouble keeping up with the harvest. The quantity at any picking is big but not big enough to set up canning. The freezers are packed. Best I can do is cook something tomato-centric almost every night. Tired of the singular funky odor that comes from the one that has headed north (IMO).

My favorite cherry remains Black Cherry. I grow Sugar Sweetie (great for salads and replaced slightly smaller Sweet 100 years ago), Sungold and Sun Sugar (his favorite). Bakers Creek sent free heirloom Riesentraub and I saw it mentioned by at least one other person. Does anyone have an opinion? My plants produced unevenly sized tomatoes. Some were saladette and some were cherry. They look good; don't split and have a long life. The flavor jury is still out. I'm holding back on judging anything new since rain amounts here were excessive. I'll try it them again next year. And I always grow yellow pear for roasting, marinating (because they hold their shape so well), chopped salads, chutneys and relishes.

Germans are late, as are beefsteaks in general. I have saved seed from a number of Germans but only grew German Johnson this year to restock old seed. I also grow German Pink, Red Brandywine, Pink Brandywine and German Queen. They all have large seeds, are watery and don't last but if you plan to reduce and sauce, can, or slice and eat (and you are very patient), they are amazing. They are not highly productive though so if space is an issue reconsider.

Last year I needed to restock slicers seed other than Cherokee Purple and Black Krim. I can't remember all the varieties I've got in storage but grow Arkansas Traveler, Hazelfield Farm, Mortgage Lifter, Eva Purple Ball and Box Car Willie. I'm leaning towards maintaining a bank of seed that relates to what is heirloom in America and especially the South.

For yellow beefs, I've got a good yellow, equal to but not necessarily better than Kelloggs. It's a pass along from a Maryland gardener called "Alfred Orange".

I've been growing tomatoes in the same general garden space, but with rotation, for over twenty five years. My tomatoes are definitely doing their own thing. Every few years there seems to be a new tomato I didn't plant. Maybe a natural hybrid better suited to the bugs and weather of Maypop Garden space. I have always been open to sharing.

Hornell, NY(Zone 5a)

I've had fairly good luck with growing the Costoluto heritage tomatoes, though the ribbed shoulders and sometimes odd shapes are to be expected. A few may have a solid core that must be "chunked up"(rather than sliced) before eating.They taste reasonably good in salads, and sauce up pretty well. The different colors are accounted by the early ripeness, eventually they will turn bright red. The tomatoes shown are from saved seeds I grew a couple of years ago, I still have a few left.


Westbrook, CT(Zone 6a)

      I grew Riesentraube a couple of years ago. Mine were all cherries, 1" diameter. Other growers have mixed reviews on taste and yield, mostly good or better. My yield was just ok.
      I never heard of Hazelfield Farm. Can you give us some details on the plant and its fruit?
      Will your Maryland friend make "Alfred Orange" available commercially or through Seed Savers? Is it better than "Amana Orange"?

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Don, Hazelfield Farm was passed around by Gary Millwood about ten years ago. Tatiana has a good history and review of this tomato. It is certainly prolific and comparable in taste to Arkansas Traveler or Mortgage Lifter. Does well in our heat and humidity. What never seems to be included in the descripions are the copious amounts of rather large seeds for a 6-8oz. tomato.

Alfred Orange seed was passed along to me from a former colleague of DD. Her grandparents grew it. I don't know its provenance beyond a Maryland country garden. Doubt it will ever be listed or available. I am always open to sharing seed. DM me.

Another interesting tomato is torpedo-shape, Sherrill's Watermelon (see photo). I think the name was suggested by Carolyn. Maria made this seed available more than a decade ago. Its provenance is Sherrill's Ford, N.C. and the garden of a friend's grandparents. It is now available. A good tomato if you like them on the dry side. Like a huge Roma in texture but with flavor. Very few seeds make collecting precious. Some fruits ripen with no mature seeds. The fruit stems are proportionately slim and the fruits large resulting in a propensity towards fruit drop. I've learned not to touch them while ripening. I've had good years recently and wonder if this is due to adaptation of the seed.

The third year of growing the natural hybrid, Golden Willie, has been very successful. Vigorous, productive and tasty like its Sungold parent at twice the size. Some plants are longer lived than others. One plant produced reds.

This message was edited Oct 9, 2017 4:20 PM

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Westbrook, CT(Zone 6a)

     Thanks for the info. I did find many references to Hazelfield Farm, plus one long discussion about the Sherrill tomato (Carolyn was concerned that the name could be confused with Watermelon Beefsteak, a more well-known variety) at

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

Maypop, thanks for all of the good information. I always learn something when you post.
I would be interested in some seed from Sherrill's Watermelon tomato for canning IF you have any seed to share. If not, I think I will go with a Roma. Any suggestions? I would be willing to try the Yellow Pear but hubby isn't interested in it. We've grown it in the past but did not use as a canner. However, I can't get hubby to consider this one at this time.
Here's a couple of pictures of my tomatoes this year. We are having lots of tomatoes due to the extended warm season we are having. Yea!
Picture 1: is Gold Medal, beefy, dry, stingy with seeds. (maybe this would make a good canner?)
2. Gold Medal sliced up. Yum!
3. Kellog's Breakfast: 1# 9 oz.

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Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Thanks for refreshing my memory with that old link, Don. I see Sherril's came from N.C., not Tenn., and corrected my post above. Did you happen to pursue the link further into that post? https://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/736560/ Maria discusses growing out Sherril's in '08 and I've included pics from that same year.

Have plenty of seed and am happy to share, Birder. I'll DM you. And thank you.

Westbrook, CT(Zone 6a)

For the latest revision of TODD, The TomatO Description Datasheet, with searchable and filterable details on over 1000 varieties, many of them provided by DG posters, see


This message was edited Oct 21, 2017 3:40 PM

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