UNH Conducts Three-Year Tomato Cultivar Experiment
Scientists at the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station conducted a three-year experiment to test how well new tomato cultivars performed after being grown in a high tunnel at the Woodman Horticultural Research Farm. “High tunnels are increasingly being used on farms. They offer a lot of benefits to vegetable production, especially tomatoes, said Nick Warren, the agroecology lab manager at UNH, who conducted the tomato trial as part of his graduate research. “Our experiment looked at how different cultivars of tomatoes perform in a high-tunnel environment. There are always lots of new cultivars coming out, and high tunnels are a relatively new growing environment for tomatoes compared to in the field.” Researchers chose different cultivars to test, paying specific attention to disease resistance, market yield and taste. “Our results suggest that several of the tomato cultivars examined in the study may be well suited for high-tunnel production in the northeastern United States,” Warren said. In particular, researchers found that when it comes to diseases like powdery mildew and leaf mold, the cultivars Geronimo, Massada and Rebelski performed well all three years. Geronimo also performed well regarding marketable yield every year, with Arbason, Big Beef, Imperial 643 and Rebelski posting solid stats for two of the three years. The taste tests were inconclusive due to variability in weather, growing conditions and individual taste preferences.” Tasha Dunning with Spring Ledge Farm in New London, said the high tunnel tomato trial was “a great benefit to many of us growers in New Hampshire whose biggest vegetable crop is tomatoes. Choosing varieties is difficult in that we cannot afford to use our tunnel space for trials of varieties that may not work out well. We were able to taste test the tomatoes as well as get the yield and disease resistance information that will help us choose varieties that are right for us.” For more information, visit www.colsa.unh.edu/aes.