Friday, November 22, 2013

Beefsteak Cultivar Trials- Part 1 (The Pictures)

Beefsteak Cultivar Trials- Part 1 (The Pictures)
By Dr. Natalie Bumgarner


Greenhouse tomato production in the United States now encompasses a wide spectrum of fruit types and cultivars. Producers desire both attractive and distinctive crop cultivars to meet consumer demand, but consistency in both productivity and quality is still a key. Even with the increasing desire for specialty cultivars, many small to mid-scale growers still often establish and maintain their a large portion of their sales with beefsteak tomatoes. For many US consumers, high visual and taste quality in beefsteak tomatoes is the basis for greenhouse tomato price premiums. Because many greenhouse vegetable producers rely on a few specific cultivars, the production and reliability of those cultivars is essential.  Additionally, over time their customers become accustomed to the taste and appearance of a certain cultivar and change must be carefully weighed. However, cultivars are sometimes discontinued or unavailable due to seed shortages, so being familiar with other options is quite important for growers. We generally encourage tomato growers to trial small sections of different cultivars on a consistent basis to remain up to date on new offerings and to be prepared if they are forced to switch cultivars.  It is obviously important for us at CropKing to be familiar with cultivar options for growers. So, this evaluation was carried out both to increase our knowledge of several available beefsteaks and to provide information for growers who may be considering these tomatoes as options for their current crops.  Cultivars were obtained from a variety of seed suppliers to represent a broad selection of cultivars available to greenhouse tomato producers. 

Crop Overview

• Ten cultivars were trialed in a small block, two replicate evaluation
• Seeded 12/18
• Transplanted 1/14
• First harvest 4/8
• Growing point removal 11/11
• Last harvest likely will occur between 12/15 and 12/25

Plant Management

•All ungrafted seedlings transplanted from 1.5” rockwool cubes into perlite filled Bato buckets
•Plant density was 4 ft2 per plant or 2.7 plants/m2
•Began feeding seedlings  at 1.5 mS/cm EC and increased feed to 2.2-2.4 mS/cm as mature plants
•Target leach ECs were 0.3-0.6 above feed ECs (2.5 to 2.8 mS/cm)

Data Collection and Calculations

Cluster number and harvestable fruit count at each cluster
Plot weight and fruit counts at each harvest
Cumulative fruit yield as well as a breakdown across the season
Average fruit weight across the season

The images and fruit weights presented here represent an April harvest with fruit from the 1st and 2n
clusters. The November pictures were taken near the end of the crop and were generally fruit
produced on the 25th through 28th clusters.  

In an upcoming blog after harvest is complete for the year, there will be a post that describes
comparative yield and fruit size throughout the season. This blog is designed to introduce the cultivars
and provide some initial visuals and fruit weights at an early and late harvest to provide a general
overview of the cultivars with more analysis and summary data planned for a later blog. 

The Cultivars

Average fruit wt. these two harvest dates

BigDena-April 0.581 lb
BigDena-November 0.502 lb

Foronti-November 0.601 lb
Foronti-April 0.837 

Guyana-November 0.438 lb
Guyana-April 0.525 lb

Heritage-November 0.516 lb
Heritage-April 0.566 lb

Ladoga-November 0.562 lb
Ladoga-April 0.601 lb

Lola-November 0.484 lb
Lola-April  0.513 lb

Rapsodie-November 0.417 lb
Rapsodie-April 0.653 lb

BeOrange-November 0.511 lb
BeOrange-April 0.598 lb 

Brandymaster-November 0.903 lb
Brandymaster-April 0.910 lb

Montenegro-November 0.431 lb
Montenegro-April 0.535 lb

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