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okiedawn1

The Tomato Report

Okiedawn OK Zone 7
16 years ago

How is everybody's tomatoes doing now that the weather has warmed up a little bit?

Our spring-planted tomatoes are slower to produce this year, but I am thinking that this could be a 'bonus' because they will probably produce later into the summer than they usually do. I am actually feeling pretty positive about them, which is odd considering it has rained every day for a week now so you KNOW that there are problems in tomatoland.

How has the excessive rain affected the tomato plants?

Our plants have been slower growing, slower to flower, slower to pollinate and slower to produce ripe fruit. In addition, there have been serious issues with bacterial speck, bacterial spot, and early blight. The plants have needed one booster feeding to make up for the leaching of nutrition from the soil by heavy rains. There have been a few tomato hornworms, but not many, and the deer have eaten a few plants, while the turtles, deer and racoons have had a few fruit. So, it hasn't been too bad really.

On the plus side, the early blight has not progressed too much and hasn't affected production very much, even if the plants look unsightly to me. Also, we are getting slower, later ripe tomatoes but they are larger than usual and the taste is pretty good--not great--but not as watered down as I had feared.

I tried many, many new varieties this year and it is fun tasting them as many heirlooms have quite distinctive, special flavors.

Here's a report on how some of them have done.

Arkansas Traveler: Struggled with wet roots, slow to grow, Now covered in green fruit.

Lucky Cross: Struggled with wet roots and foliar issues early on. After almost drowning, now has one almost ripe very large fruit and many small ones. I can't wait for this one to ripen.

Livingston Gold Ball: Producing like a champ in spite of heavy rainfall. One of the earliest to ripen. Has several dozen greenies and I've already harvested about a dozen. Yummy.

Pierce's Pride: Very large fruit. I've harvested several and there are more green ones coming along. This is the largest I've grown in the group of 'black tomatoes'. Typical black tomato taste, and is good, but not as good as Black Krim. I'll definitely grow this one again though.

Snow White Cherry: One of earliest to produce ripe fruits as always. Terrific flavor. Less foliage disease this year--usually it is one of the worst for foliage diseases, so why it is doing better in heavier rainfall is anyone's guess. These are a staple in our garden, but they are yellowish-ivory, not white.

Tiffen Mennonnite: Struggling in the heavy rain, no blooms, no fruit on one plant; other plant has produced some yummy looking fruit, but flavor only so-so. Hoping later ones will taste better.

Black Pear: Only OK, not as good in flavor as most years.

Wisconsin 55 -- Plant is disease-free, lots of green fruit, only 1 ripe so far, and it was good.

Earl's Faux--struggling in the heavy rainfall, almost died a couple of times, not doing much but I have hope things will improve

Zogola--Has 2 or 3 huge fruit, almost ripe,6 or 8 green ones. Eager to taste this one.

Cherokee Purple--Oh my! One of our perennial favorites and its flavor is just as good this year as in other years, and the tomatoes are twice as large!!!! Guess the rainfall is good for something.

Martino's Roma: So covered in fruit you can hardly see the foliage. This plant is only about knee-high but has produced several dozen tomatoes so far. They are great for salsa or sauce.

Black Prince: One of first to ripen, good as always. Looks of cracking, but rain does that.

Super Fantastic wasn't super or fantastic this year. Drowned and died.

Dr. Carolyn: A yummy cherry, better tasting and more disease resistant than Galina's. This one's a keeper.

Bisignano #2: Struggled early on with wet roots, has recovered and has large fruit that aren't ripe yet.

Eva Purple Ball: The plant itself has remained small but is producing well. Haven't eaten one yet, but picked some ripe ones today.

Caspian Pink: One of our favorites but it has really stuggled in this weather. I don't know if it will produce ripe fruit before it dies or not.

Beefmaster: One of our favorite hybrids. Plants are huge and have lots of fruit. They are delicious. The rain hasn't adversely affected this variety much.

Black Krim: Has grown exceptionally well considering the conditions. Several ripe ones picked and devoured. Delicious as always. My favorite black tomato. The most productive and healthiest looking plant in the garden, and I have 10 or 12 plants of this variety because all my neighbors have become addicted to its flavor.

Black Zebra: Struggled early on with wet roots but looks great now. Has several almost ripe ones. Fruit are beautiful to look at. Can't wait to see how they taste.

Brandy Boy: Plants have struggled with wet roots and foliar disease, but are rising above it and producing green fruit. No ripe ones yet.

Celebrity: Loads of red ripe tomatoes and plenty of greens. Plants don't look as good as they usually do, but they are producing well.

Champion: Struggled with wet roots. Small but lots of fruit and the fruit is very good.

Beam's Yellow Pear: Foliar disease got it before it produced much fruit, which happens here about every other year or so.

Black Cherry: In excess of 7' tall, fairly heavy foliage, lots of fruit. Fantastic flavor as always. These are so good you can't believe it.

Bi-Colored Cherry, Brown Cherry, Purple Brandy, Momotaro, Purple Calabash, Pruden's Purple, Purple Russian and second Dr. Carolyn plant: After struggling with wet roots, these are growing, blooming and setting fruit. No ripe ones yet.

Jaune Flamme': Has several almost-ripe fruit on average sized plants.

Ildi: My favorite yellow cherry. This one was stripped completely bare right down to the main stalk by the biggest tomato hornworm I have ever seen. (Of course he was big by the time I saw him--he'd eaten an entire 4' tall plant by then!) Hoping it will regrow.

SunGold: Planted in late May as replacements for some earlier plants that were waterlogged and died. Growing well and blooming and setting fruit.

Orange Santa: One of the largest plants in the garden at about 7' to 8' tall. Lots of fruit and they are yummy, although they are bigger than red Santa.

Rosalita: This one has fruit, but it is not shaped like Rosalita from past years, so I either have crossed seed, mislabeled seed or a mislabeled plant. Looks more like Orange Banana.

Galina's Yellow: Produced ripe fruit fairly early but has struggled with foliar disease.

A lot of plants in the lower part of the garden where the drainage is the worst look simply terrible and are near death from waterlogged roots--my fault, not theirs. These include: JetStar, Better Boy, Little Lucky, Blue Fruit, and Bulgarian #7. Of these, Bulgarian #7 seems to have the best hope of survival.

Aunt Gertie's Gold: Lost first planting to waterlogged roots. Second planting about 18" tall, flowering and fruiting.

Kellog's Breakfast: same situation as Aunt Gertie's Gold.

Carbon: Tall, healthy productive plants with good fruit.

Amish Gold: These have been slow to grow. Some have fruit, some don't, none have produced ripe ones yet.

Lillian's Yellow: Dead

Persimmon: Is 4' tall after being eaten down to the ground by a deer. Flowering and fruiting. No ripe ones yet.

Mule Team: Recovering from waterlogged roots. Blooming and setting fruit. Looking pretty good at this point.

Box Car Willie: Does not like the rain. Not dying but not growing either. Just sits there.

Neve's Azorean Red: Something must like this plant because it has been eaten clear down to the ground twice. Regrowing. Flowering. Hoping to get fruit sooner or later.

Black From Tula: Flowering, fruiting, a few ripe ones, lots more green. Taste is very good.

Oregon Spring: Wasn't as early as expected, but we have had awful weather. Lots of fruit. Flavor is average.

Oleana Ukrainian: ABout 4' tall, lots of flowers, a few fruit. Still waiting for this one to ripen.

New Big Dwarf: Wow! Really great flavor, really large fruit, on compact plants. This one is a keeper.

Early Girl: Lots of fruit and they are good. Not the earliest in our garden, not even close.

Ultimate Opener: Less fruit than Early Girl and slower to produce them. Nothing special.

Red Star: These tomatoes have been green forever. They just won't ripen. Waiting and waiting and waiting.

Orange Banana: Fairly prolific producer and fairly good tasting fruit. Nothing to get real excited about so far. Maybe hotter, drier weather (if we have any) will produce better fruit.

Little Lucky: Started out as one of the fastest growing and healthiest looking plants before the rain got to it. Still looks moderately good, but has been slow to set flower and fruit.

Principle Borghese: Produced a few dozen sweet little tomatoes and then the plant died.

Livingston's Gold Queen: Wow! Big old golden tomatoes on a big, fast-growing, lush plant. Taste is pretty good considering the weather.

The following were planted over the last 3 to 6 weeks as replacements for plants which died because of waterlogged roots or disease. They are looking good, growing well, flowering, and some are already setting fruit. They are: Roughwood Golden Plum, Rose Quartz, Hess, Matina, Cherokee Chocolate, Black, Sweet Million, Ildi, Coyote, Brandy Boy, Jaune Flammee', Aunt Gertie's Gold, and Green Sausage.

So, the results are a really mixed bag. Some dead plants. Many struggling ones. Many are producing very late ripening fruit. Fruit is being produced though, and some of the new ones have already earned their way onto next year's grow list. Many of the best tasting fruit are from the black tomato group, or Cherokee Purple or some of the red hybrids.

In view of the fact that my vegetable garden has a couple of inches of standing water in it, especially in the pathways and in the lower half of it which does not have raised beds, I am just happy to be picking ripe tomatoes at all.

Usually by this time of year, I have harvested hundreds and hundreds of tomatoes and have given away bags and bags of them to everyone we know. This year I have only harvested maybe 60 or 70 full-sized tomatoes and a couple of hundred cherries, and I haven't given any away. The people to whom we usually give our excess tomatoes are starting to get antsy, but I haven't 'caught' anyone in the garden picking their own tomatoes yet. When they ask how the garden is doing, I tell them it is 'pitiful'. Everyone else's tomato plants around here are in pretty bad shape too.

I have a lot of fall tomatoes ready to go into the ground in the next 2 or 3 weeks, and many of them are ones I've never grown before, so I am looking forward to trying their fruit if they survive long enough to produce any.

By the way, it is raining hard here this afternoon and I understand they are closing down flooded roads in the Gainesville/Cooke County, Texas, area again, just a few miles south of us. It is going to be a long weekend.

Dawn

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