The most important decision farmers can make when growing tomatoes in Alabama is variety selection.
Joe Kemble, Alabama Extension vegetable specialist, insists that growers understand what varieties grow well in Alabama before they plant this spring.
“Easily the most important decision you can make is picking which varieties to grow. You can buy local transplants. It’s always great when you can do that. But what I’ve typically found is, often, the selection tends to be pretty narrow,” Kemble said. “There are literally thousands of tomato varieties out there. Many of them are adapted very well to growth in Alabama but unfortunately, some of them are not.
“Sometimes you may be growing varieties and you’ll say to yourself, I really don’t know why these are doing so poorly. The problem is, it may be the fact that it’s just not a very good variety to grow.”
Kemble said it is important to choose variety that will spread your season. Some are better for early in the season. Others are more tolerant of the high summer temperatures and can be grown in mid-to-late season.
“Try to pick varieties that are actually suited to the time of year you wish to grow them,” Kemble said.
Disease resistance is also an important factor to consider. Try to select varieties with resistance to tomato spotted wilt virus, nematodes, fusarium, late blight and early blight. Resistant varieties mean growers don’t have to apply fungicides to control the disease.
Kemble recommends the following tomato varieties: Bella Rosa, Carolina Gold, Crista, Mountain Gem, Mountain Magic, Mountain Merit, Red Bounty, Red Defender, Red Mountain, Rocky Top and Tribute.