[Market-farming] Indterminate vs determinate tomatoes

Bill Shoemaker wshoemak at inil.com
Wed May 14 08:37:50 EDT 2003

Those are interesting comments. They make sense to me. Regarding training people for taste, we've found the same thing on the edge of the metro area. People are surprised at what truly fresh, ripe produce is like. And if they've never had it, they don't always like it. I remember taking ripe tomatoes to the Manager of a Subway franchise because their tomatoes were zombies. He didn't want them. They were soft and messy. Besides, they wouldn't go through the slicing machine.

It raises serious questions about the younger generation and their food preferences. Most are growing up with no exposure to truly fresh fruits and vegetables. Their palates are being trained for over-processed foods. Their health and the health of future markets for market farmers is in question.

Bill Shoemaker
Sr Research Specialist, Food Crops
Univ of Illinois - St Charles Hort Research Center

.  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
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