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Kristin C. Goodin Horticulture Extension Agent For Barren County

Main Points 




Growing Requirements: 

Site Selection & Soil Requirements

Tomato Varieties









Physiological Problems

Introduction 

Member of the Nightshade Family, Solanaceae, and also includes other crops such as eggplant, pepper, potato, and tobacco.

Classified as a warm-season plant which prefers temperatures of 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit

Most widely grown vegetable by the home gardener because of its food value, many uses, and relative ease of culture

History 

The tomato was first introduced to the United States in the 1700s.

It was thought by early American colonists to be poisonous.

Thomas Jefferson was one of the first to grow tomatoes, which were called “Love Apples”.

The tomato was not recognized as a useful vegetable until the 1800s.

Nutrition 

A medium-sized tomato has only 35 calories. The tomato is rich in vitamins C and A, and contains small amounts of the B vitamins and potassium.

Tomatoes are also well known for their high carotenoid content 



Site Selection & Soil Requirements 

Grows best in full sunshine

Prefers loose, well drained soil

pH range between 6.5 to 7.0

Like soil full of rich nutrients like water, organic compost, and fertilizer

Variety Selection 



Bush-like plant

Vine-like plant

Yield produce all at once

Yield produce regularly throughout the growing season

Best for small gardens or container gardens

Range in height from 3 feet on up to 6 feet tall

Variety Selection 

Hybrid Tomatoes

Genetically modified to obtain desirable characteristics such as disease & insect resistance, increase yield, improve quality

Can not save seed

Abbreviations: A= Alternaria F= Fusarium N= Nematode T= Tobacco Mosaic Virus V= Verticillium EB= Early Blight

Variety Selection 

Heirloom 

Also referred to as open pollinated (OP) varieties that have been grown for several generations

50 + years

Can save the seed

Variety Selection 

First Early Red (60 or fewer days to harvest) and have small to medium sized fruit 

Early Girl (58 days to harvest; 5 ounces; earliest full size; indeterminate; resistant to V)

Medium-Early Red (60 to 69 days) The real tomato harvest season begins with this variety. 

Mountain Spring (65 days to harvest; 9 ounces; globe, very smooth; determinate; resistant to VF)

Variety Selection 

Main-Crop Red- Bears medium to large sized fruit and are relatively free from fruit cracking and other deformities. 

Celebrity (70 days to harvest; determinate; resistant to VFFNT)

Better Boy (72 days; indeterminate; resistant to VFN)

Mountain Fresh (77 days; resistant to VI, F12, EB-tolerant)

Extra-Large Red- These varieties are late

maturing. The fruits may be extremely large, but also can be misshapen. 

Supersteak (80 days to harvest; extra meaty; indeterminate; resistant to VFN)

Beefmaster (81 days; large Beefsteak type; indeterminate; resistant to VFN)

Variety Selection 

Yellow or Orange- Tastes sweeter than red varieties because they have a higher sugar content. 

Lemon Boy (72 days to harvest; mild flavor; indeterminate; resistant to VFN)

Jubilee (OP) (72 days; deep orangeyellow; indeterminate)

Carolina Gold (72 days; determinate; resistant to V, F1)

Pink- Traditionally have been similar to yellows with regard to plant type and maturity. 

Pink Girl (76 days to harvest; crack resistant; indeterminate; resistant to VF)

Brandywine (OP) (80 days; heirloom; juicy, great taste; indeterminate)

Variety Selection 

Red Paste Tomatoes- used from making catsup, paste and sauces, and whole canning. 

 

Plum Dandy (76 days to harvest; resistant to V and EB) Roma (76 days; resistant to VN) Plum Crimson (80 days; resistant to VI, F123, and EB.)

Small-Fruited/Salad- described as especially sweet and tasty. 

Super Sweet 100 (70 days to harvest; cherry sized fruit; resistant to VF.)

Mountain Belle (65 days; red, crack resistant; resistant to VF)

Jolly (70 days; pink pear shaped)

Planting 

Plant transplants after the fear of frost has passed. For central Kentucky, this date is May 5th.

Select stocky transplants about 6 to 10 inches tall. Set tomato transplants in the garden a little deeper than when growing in the pot.

Starter fertilizer should be used around transplants.

Planting 

Space plants according to the type of tomato being grown. 

Determinate type- 24 to 36 inches between plants and 3 feet apart in rows

Indeterminate type- 36 inches apart with rows spaced 4 to 5 feet apart

Staking 

Staking makes the job of caring for tomatoes easier and aids in reducing fruit rots. 

Drive stakes in soil about 4 to 6 inches from plant, 1 foot deep soon after transplants are set.

Use wooden stakes 6 feet long and 1 ½ to 2 inches wide.

Attach heavy twine at 10-inch intervals to stakes. As tomatoes grow, pull them up alongside stakes and tie loosely.

Pruning Techniques ďƒ˜

Remove the fruits that are most distant from the stems. (You will get bigger size from the fruits closest to the stems.)


Remove the suckers for indeterminate type tomatoes. (Refer to picture on the next slide.)

Caging 

Benefits of caging tomato fruit: 

Show fewer cracks and sunburn

Ripen more uniformly

Show fewer green shoulders

Produce fewer cull fruits

Erect cages soon after plants have been set out.

Suggested materials: 

Concrete reinforcing wire (6-inch mesh)

Galvanized fence wire (4 to 6 inch mesh)

Watering/Mulching 

A tomato fruit is 95% water, so tomatoes need lots of water to grow and develop healthy fruit.

Should receive about 1 to 2 inches of water a week.

Best to water in the morning, to cut down on disease issues.

Mulch with straw, clean hay, compost, grass clippings, plastic, and newspaper. 

Keeps weeds down.

Prevents blossom end rot.

Fertilization ďƒ˜

Tomato plants benefit from additional fertilizer after fruit is set.


When first fruits reach golf ball size, scatter 1 Tbs ammonium nitrate in a 6 to 10 inch circle around each plant. Water thoroughly and repeat about every 2 weeks.

Harvesting 

Tomatoes should be firm and fully colored.

Highest quality: Ripen on the vine, with daily summer temperatures average about 75°F.

High temperatures (90°F or more) accelerates softening process in fruit and color development is retarded.

Pick tomatoes every day or two when color has started to develop and ripen them indoors (at 70 to 75°F).

Insects (Left to right): Aphids, Colorado potato beetle, tobacco hornworm, and tomato fruitworm.

Diseases (Left to right): Anthracnose, Early Blight, Powdery Mildew, Septoria Leaf Spot, Southern Blight, and Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus (TSWV).

Physiological Problems Blossom

End Rot Fruit Fruit Cracking Leaf Roll Sunscald White Core, etc. Catfaced

Blossom End Rot ďƒ˜

Blossom end rot is caused by inadequate translocation of calcium through the plant during fruit development. Generally the problem is not insufficient soil calcium levels but rather inadequate soil moisture to deliver the calcium to the plant. Once the condition has developed it cannot be corrected on affected fruit; better water management and application of calcium containing fertilizers, if necessary, can prevent further loss.

Catfaced Fruit


Catfacing can be the result of poor pollination generally due to extremely hot or cold temperatures or severe drought conditions. Herbicide drift of some herbicides that contain growth regulators may also be linked to catfacing. The best management strategy is to select varieties that have shown little tendency to catface in the past.

Fruit Cracking ďƒ˜

Cracking generally appears near the stem scar and is the result of rapid fruit growth usually brought on by periods of drought followed by heavy rains or irrigation events. Concentric cracking can often occur when standing water sits on the shoulders of fruit. There are large varietal differences in susceptibility to cracking. Cracking can be greatly reduced by choosing resistant varieties and managing irrigation.

Leaf Roll

Physiological leaf roll occurs when the edges of the leaves roll upward and inward. Leaf roll does not reduce plant growth, yield, or fruit quality. It is believed to result from irregular water supply, and may be intensified following pruning. The symptoms are sometimes temporary, disappearing after a few days, but can persist throughout the growing season. ďƒ˜

Sunscald ďƒ˜

Sunscald typically occurs on the shoulders of tomato fruit, though can occur anywhere the fruit are unprotected from full sunlight. Some varieties are more susceptible than others. Avoid varieties that provide little foliar coverage while producing unprotected fruit. Nitrogen fertility and irrigation can also reduce/increase the amount of foliage that a plant produces, affecting the chances for sunscald injury.

White Core White core is generally characterized by the presence of a thick, tough, large white core in tomatoes. In general it is believed to be caused by stressful conditions, in particular excessively high temperatures and in some cases, excessive fertility. Some varieties, including those that are not specifically bred for heat tolerance, are more susceptible than others. White core can occur in high tunnel tomatoes when spring temperatures are excessive (> 100° F) due to inadequate ventilation. ďƒ˜

Yellow Shoulder Yellow shoulder is a ripening disorder. Varieties that lack the uniform ripening gene are more susceptible, as are varieties that produce less foliage to shade fruit. ďƒ˜

Zippering ďƒ˜

Zippering is characterized by the presence of brown tissue (resembling a zipper) running down the sides of tomatoes, often from the stem to blossom end. Zippering is the result of an anther remaining attached to newly forming fruit. Some believe it is also associated with incomplete shedding of flower petals when fruit is forming. There is little that can be done to prevent zippering, except selecting varieties that do not seem prone to zipper.

Works Cited 

University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, Home Vegetable Gardening in Kentucky, ID-128. http://

University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, Vegetable Cultivars for Kentucky Gardens—2013, ID-133.

University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, An IPM Scouting Guide for Common Pests of Solanaceous Crops in Kentucky, ID-172. http://

Works Cited 

Ohio State University Extension, Growing Tomatoes in the Home Garden, HYG-1624-10. http://

University of Missouri Extension: Growing Home Garden Tomatoes.


Kristin C. Goodin Horticulture Extension Agent For Barren County 1463 West Main Street Glasgow, KY 42141 Phone: (270) 651-3818 Email:

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