[Market-farming] heirloom tomatoes
wiediger at msn.com
wiediger at msn.com
Sat Feb 12 10:16:07 EST 2005
We have also found that, for us, the hybrids we use are WAY more productive - on the order of 3-4 times for tomatoes. On average, in our very humid summers, the heirlooms "melt down", crack, rot on the vine (unless we pick them almost green - and then they don't have the sugars for good taste). Unless we can get 3 times the price for them, we just can't afford to grow them. Admittedly, we have a limited growing area - about 2 acres - and can only grow a limited number of plants. If we had the area to grow 3 times the number of tomatoes, heirlooms could be a larger part of our mix. As it is, we'd have to triple the price for them to get the same dollars per sqft of growing space. Last year we asked .50 more per pound, and sold some, but sold a lot more of our hybrids. The price of the seed is such a small percentage of the cost of growing - space, fertility, trellising supplies and labor, picking labor are much larger costs. And, there are very good tasting hybrids - IF they are allowed to fully ripen on the vine (there are also awful ones, hard as rocks and bitter). We grow a lot of hybrids - where they are the best fit, and OPs where they are. Every situation - climate, growing space, market - is different. In a dry climate, where diseases are less of an issue, on a farm with a lot of available cropping space, in a market that will pay a necessary price differential, heirlooms may fit nicely. Just don't lose sight of the fact that hybrid tomatoes can be fabulous. We regularly have people tell us (old timers!) that our tomatoes are the best they have ever eaten.
Paul and Alison Wiediger
Au Naturel Farm
> The hybrid seeds are - on the whole - WAY more expensive
> than the heirlooms. WAY more. WAY WAY more.
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