[Market-farming] Indterminate vs determinate tomatoes

Jay Atkerson jatkerso at bowlinggreen.net
Tue May 13 21:20:09 EDT 2003

Thanks for the responses to my question: Research on the comparison of indeterminate vs. the determinate tomatoes.

I am especially interested in Rob's response since I had never heard that the more leaves and more photosynthesis probably increases flavor.  It has been my experience with our subscription gardening business that the indeterminates were more desired by our subscribers.  After several years of trying varieties such as the determinate Celebrity, customers favored the indeterminate Big Beef variety.  Tomatoes seem to grow well and taste great in our soil and climate.  (Clay-mix of soil in a Southern Kentucky [6B] climate where limestone is prevalent.  My personal choice is an old indterminate variety Rutgers, but it is more disease prone and has a shorter harvest season.

Does the Johnny's experience indicate leave pruning is counter-productive?


Jay Atkerson-- Original Message ----- 
  From: Rob Johnston 
  To: Market Farming 
  Sent: Tuesday, May 13, 2003 5:50 PM
  Subject: RE: [Market-farming] Indterminate vs determinate tomatoes

      I've been reading the responses to Jay's question, and I think some might find it useful if I share our experience at Johnny's.          

      Each year we have an extensive tomato trial of many dozens of varieties, both plant types.  Invariably the indeterminates taste better.  Chalk it up to a higher leaf to fruit ratio, so that there are more photosynthates partitioned to each fruit than with determinates, which, generalizing, have less leaves relative to the fruits.  

      You can notice this same determinate : indeterminate taste difference in pole beans and vining squash, both of which generally have better taste than "bush" versions.  You can only ask so much of photosynthesis!  Taste does not come out of thin air.

      I read Bill Shoemaker's comment with interest:  "That's one question you'll never get agreement on. People just don't agree on taste in tomatoes."  It reminds me of research published in Hort Science a few years ago where consumers preferred the taste of tomatoes that had been picked green and then allowed to ripen to tomatoes picked ripe.  It goes to show you how the mass market produce industry trains people, inadvertently of course, about "normal" taste in produce.  Of course, since many of you have the opportunity to look your customer in the eye, you can train them properly.

   Rob Johnston
   Johnny's Selected Seeds

    Has anyone done market research comparing taste of indeterminate and determinate tomatoes?

    Jay Atkerson


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