Heat tolerant tomato plants

Heat-Tolerant Tomato Varieties

Gardeners in the south or in hot regions may want to consider planting heat-tolerant tomato varieties.

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“I grow mostly heirloom varieties for my first crop here in AZ, and hybrid tomatoes (or common tomatoes) for my second crop because the season is shorter. What are some of the best varieties I can choose for my second crop?”
Harlan D., Oro Valley, AZ

Good question!

Choosing an appropriate variety for your growing conditions is a key to successful tomato gardening. It’s possible to have excellent crop in a hot climate when you select heat-tolerant tomato varieties.

Heat-Tolerant Tomato Varieties: Hybrids

Bella Rosa
Hybrid, determinate, 75 days, red, large
Bred for the southeast USA

Big Beef
Hybrid, indeterminate, 73 days, red, medium/large (10 ounces)

Florida 91
Hybrid, determinate, 72 days, red, medium/large (10 ounces)

Fourth Of July
Hybrid, indeterminate, 49 days, red/pink, small (4 ounces)

Grape
Hybrid, indeterminate, 60 days, red, grape

Heat Wave II
Hybrid, determinate, 68 days, red, medium (7 ounces)

Homestead 24
Hybrid, determinate, 80 days, red, medium (8 ounces)

Manalucie
Hybrid, indeterminate, 82 days, red, large globe

Mountain Crest
Hybrid, indeterminate, 74 days, red, medium (10 ounces)

Porter or Porter Pink
Hybrid, indeterminate; 78 days; pink, plum, small (4 ounces)

Sanibel
Hybrid, determinate, 75 days, red, medium/large (12 ounces)

Solar Fire
Hybrid, determinate, 72 days, red, medium (10 ounces)

Spitfire
Hybrid, determinate, 75 days, crimson, small/medium (5-6 ounces)

Sunbeam
Hybrid, determinate, 70 days, red, medium (6 ounces)

Sun Leaper
Hybrid, determinate, 82 days, red, medium (9 ounces)

Sun Chaser
Hybrid, indeterminate, 72 days, red, medium (7 ounces)

Sunmaster
Hybrid, determinate, 72 days, red, medium (7 ounces)

Super Fantastic
Hybrid; indeterminate; 70 days, red, large

Sweet 100
Hybrid, indeterminate, 70 days, red, cherry

Heat-Tolerant Tomato Varieties: Heirlooms

Arkansas Traveler originated in the Ozark Mountains
Heirloom, indeterminate, 90 days, pink, medium (6 ounces)

Costoluto Genovese originated in Italy
Heirloom, indeterminate, 85 days, red, large

Green Zebra originated in USA
Heirloom, determinate, 78 days, green, small (3 ounces)

Quarter Century dates to 1901
Heirloom, indeterminate, 85 days, red, large (12 ounces)

Sioux originated in Nebraska
Heirloom; semi-determinate, 78 days, red, medium (6 ounces)

Super Sioux descended from the Sioux tomato
Heirloom; indeterminate; 70 days, red, globe

Tomato varieties lists
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Best tomatoes for hot, dry climates …
Most popular tomato varieties for the home garden …
All-America selections: most respected tomato varieties …
Cool tolerant tomato varieties …
Best tomatoes for cold climates …
Most blight-resistant tomato varieties …
Best tomato varieties for drying …
Fall tomato varieties …
Indoor tomato varieties …
Tomato varieties for large containers …
Tomato varieties for small containers …
Tomato varieties for hanging pots …
Understanding tomato varieties
How to understand the way tomato varieties are classified …
Heirloom tomatoes vs. hybrids – what is the difference?
Best tomato varieties to grow: readers share favorites …

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Hot Weather Tips For Tomatoes

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When the heat is on, tomato plants take a break: they don’t care for excessive heat any more than the rest of us. When daytime temperatures are up in the 90s and nights are in the 70s or warmer, tomato plants may keep on blooming, but the flowers often fall off and fruit does not set. Growing tomato plants in hot weather is not necessarily difficult, but may not yield any edibles until it cools off.

Even heat-tolerant tomato plant varieties slow down when the temperature soars. Below, are a few tips that can help you prepare your plants to endure the stressful heat and humidity of steamy summer weather.

Mulch Helps

A layer of straw, compost, or grass-clipping mulch helps moderate soil temperature, so it doesn’t fluctuate so much. It keeps the surface of the soil just a little cooler than the air temperature, which is better for roots. Mulch also helps prevent moisture in the soil from evaporating quickly, and is great for stemming weed growth.

Do Not Fertilize Tomatoes in a Heat Wave

Fertilization encourages plants to grow, but too much fertilizer will produce leafy plants without much fruit. When the temperature is high, you’ll have more plant than the roots can support. Excessive growth makes tomato plants weak and more vulnerable to damage from insects and diseases.

Avoid Overwatering Tomatoes in Summer Weather

Tomato plants need an inch or two of water a week, and a deep soaking is better than a little water every day. Regular watering helps prevent tomatoes from developing cracks. Too much water will suffocate plants’ roots. The best way to tell if your plants need water is to poke your finger into the soil.

Weeding Makes a Huge Difference

Weed compete with tomato plants for moisture and nutrients. Pull weeds around plants and mulch after you weed to discourage them from growing back. Avoid hoeing; it can damage the roots of tomato plants which can cause the leathery brown patches on fruit known as blossom-end rot. Garden lime may also be used to help gardeners avoid blossom-end rot by raising the soil PH.

Pick Orange Tomatoes

When daytime temperatures are in the mid 90s, tomatoes will not turn red. Go ahead and pick orange tomatoes and let them ripen in the shade on the porch or on the kitchen table.

Once the temperature cools off slightly, tomato plants — and gardeners — will be revived. Tomato flowers will set fruit, and within a few weeks, you’ll be picking tomatoes with both hands.

Browse our tomato plants and seeds for sale.

“Heat-tolerant” and “drought-tolerant” are phrases to look for when selecting the best varieties to grow where summers are very hot. Humidity, especially warm, humid nights, leads to fungal diseases, so it’s also good to look for fungal disease resistance.

Some plants continue producing even during periods of extreme heat and humidity or heat and drought. Here are some of our recommendations:

Beans: If you want green beans and shelling beans throughout the summer, it’s best to expand your repertoire to a few different species. The common green bean, Phaseola vulgaris, doesn’t handle drought or high temperatures. But lots of classic Southern beans love our high-heat summers! Try growing Southern Peas (Cowpeas) like Whippoorwill, White Acre, and Pink Eye Purple Hull. Asparagus Beans (Yard Long Beans) also love heat and humidity – they’re slightly firmer than green beans and quite a bit longer. They’re commonly used in Thai curries. Green Pod Red Seed is the classic, reliable heirloom. If you’re in the Deep South, Chinese Red Noodle takes advantage of the long season and is more heat tolerant. Lima Beans (Butterbeans) are generally very reliable in heat, humidity, and drought.

Tomatoes: Look for tomatoes that come from the Deep South, especially those bred by the universities. The large red slicer Tropic VFN (from the University of Florida) produces through very hot summers. Ozark Pink VF (from the University of Arkansas) is highly recommended for very hot climates. These blemish-free medium-sized tomatoes have very bright, crisp flavor. For market growers looking for reliability in heat and humidity, Neptune (also from the University of Florida) is a great choice. This medium-large red slicer recently did very well in trials conducted at the University of Georgia.

Eggplant: Take advantage of your summer heat by growing an eggplant that requires it: the flavorful French/Italian heirloom Listada de Gandia thrives in hot weather. The better known heirloom Black Beauty is also dependable in the South. The long, narrow Asian eggplants like Ping Tung Long also produce well through intense heat.

Peppers: Nematode resistant bell peppers are the best choices for Southern gardeners. Carolina Wonder and Charleston Belle are both excellent. Hot peppers generally thrive in heat and humidity. (Lots of hot places use hot peppers in their cuisines – perhaps because these plants grow so well in hot climates!) Sweet, spicy Aji Dulce peppers have an unusual, complex flavor, with just a hint of heat. They’re generally unaffected by pests and diseases, but they take a little longer to mature than most peppers.

Cucumbers: Find out which diseases are problems in your area and use the resistance codes to help you choose what to grow. Little Leaf H-19 (from the University of Arkansas) has excellent disease resistance and is well adapted to very hot summers. It’s classified as a pickler, but it’s also very tasty sliced and in salads. Ashley is a slicer particularly recommended where disease is a problem, but my favorite choice for a heat-loving slicer is Suyo Long (the long, slender fruits are best grown on trellises).

Summer Squash and Zucchini: We recommend growing Moschata type summer squash if you have trouble growing summer squash and zucchini in your hot climate. The Moschata types have better pest and disease tolerance and produce well straight through very hot summers. Tromboncino summer squash has the extra advantage of also making excellent squash blossoms for stuffing. Waltham Butternut winter squash can be harvested small (3-5”) for eating like summer squash. (Moschata types need nights above 60 degrees F to grow well.) You might also try edible Luffa gourds. When harvested small, they’re a great summer squash alternative.

Winter Squash and Pumpkins: As with summer squash, we recommend choosing moschata types when growing winter squash and pumpkins in the South. (Avoid pepo and maxima types.) Pretty much any moschata will thrive through hot summers, but particularly productive varieties are Seminole Pumpkin, Waltham Butternut, and Tan Cheese. Green-Striped Cushaw is from another type of squash altogether (argyrosperma or mixta). We know Southern gardeners who won’t grow anything but Cushaws: they’re super productive through our summers and their seeds are very large and tasty. The flesh tastes a little different than most winter squash and not as sweet, but it can be used in pies if you add extra sweetener.

Melons: Top Mark, Sweet Passion, and Kansas all have extra disease and/or pest tolerances. Edisto 47 is particularly recommended for hot, humid summers where fungal disease is an issue. Missouri Gold produces well through droughty conditions.

Watermelon: Crimson Sweet and Strawberry watermelon are good choices where heat and humidity make fungal diseases a problem.

Okra: Choose older and heirloom varieties of okra with deeper root systems. The deep roots give these plants resistance to nematodes and improved drought and heat tolerance, but these varieties also usually take longer to mature. Gold Coast is a variety particularly noted for its deep roots, but Stewart Zeebest and Beck’s Big Buck also are excellent heirlooms for the Deep South.

Greens: Lettuce is very difficult to grow outside when it’s hot, and spinach is pretty much impossible, but don’t give up on summer salads and cooked greens.

For cooked greens, Swiss chard and turnip greens are the best choices in the South. These plants are biennials, which means they usually won’t bolt (go to seed) until they’ve gone through their first winter. So they stay tender and mild all summer. Sweet potato greens, New Zealand summer spinach, and the young leaves and shoot tips of squash can all be used for cooking greens.

For salads, buckwheat leaves add an unusual nutty flavor. Grain amaranths like Mayo Indian are very productive in high heat and humidity. Many heat-loving herbs add flavor to salads, including roselle, anise-hyssop, dill, & basil.

We strongly recommend Red Malabar summer spinach to anyone who hasn’t tried growing it yet. The crisp, slightly succulent leaves stay mild in high heat and maintain healthy growth all summer. The gorgeous red vines need to be trellised or caged, but this keeps the leaves clean. They’re excellent as cooking greens and in salad mixes.

Heat-Tolerant Tomato Varieties

Can you recommend some tomato varieties that will continue to produce fruit when temperatures are high?

Faced with long bouts of daytime temperatures higher than 85 degrees Fahrenheit and nights above 72 degrees, tomatoes may fail to set fruit. The plants may look dark green and vigorous — evidence that all other growing conditions are favorable — but have blossoms that dry up and fall off.

If the heat spell lasts no more than a week, the tomato plants will quickly recover. During long stretches of warm nighttime temperatures, however, the plants will stop setting, causing a subsequent gap in tomato production.

In recent years, a flood of new varieties has been bred for greater heat tolerance. Known as “heat-set” tomatoes, or “hot-set” tomatoes, some commonly grown hybrids are ‘BHN 216,’ ‘Florasette,’ ‘Florida 91,’ ‘Heatwave II,’ ‘Solar Fire,’ ‘Summer Set,’ ‘Sunchaser,’ ‘Sun Leaper,’ ‘Sunmaster,’ ‘Sun Pride’ and ‘Talladega.’ According to the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, many heat-set varieties also perform well in cool, rainy weather.

Some heirloom tomato varieties are heat-tolerant as well, and these include ‘Arkansas Traveler,’ ‘Eva Purple Ball,’ ‘Hazelfield Farm,’ ‘Homestead 24,’ ‘Illinois Beauty,’ ‘Neptune,’ ‘Ozark Pink’ and ‘Tropic.’ Additionally, some “cold-set” varieties, such as ‘Stupice,’ are all-weather standouts because they’re able to function in hot weather, too. A handful of cherry tomato varieties, such as ‘Lollipop’ and ‘Yellow Pear,’ also do well in prolonged stints of heat.

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Tomato growers in the South often choose heat-tolerant tomato varieties for summer and fall production — a strategy growers farther north may want to emulate now that climate change is causing hotter summers in most regions. When growing tomatoes in hot temperatures, you can boost your success rate by planting deeper (where the soil temperatures are lower), providing afternoon shade, watering in the morning and using thick organic mulch to keep soil cool.

Learn more about heat-tolerant tomato varieties in the Alabama extension publication Blossom Drop in Tomatoes and the Louisiana extension publication Performance of Hot-Set Tomato Varieties in Louisiana. To find sources for some of the heat-set tomato varieties mentioned here, use our Seed and Plant Finder.

Photo by Tomato Growers Supply Company: ‘Stupice’ tomatoes thrive in cold weather and can also handle heat.

Tomatoes For Arid Climates – Types Of Drought And Heat Tolerant Tomatoes

Tomatoes like plenty of warmth and sunlight, but the extremely hot, dry conditions of the American Southwest and similar climates can present certain challenges for gardeners. The key is planting the best tomatoes for arid climates and then providing them with a little extra TLC. Read on to learn more about heat- and drought-tolerant tomatoes.

Choosing Tomatoes for Hot, Dry Climates

Tomatoes for hot, arid climates are sturdy enough to withstand wind, and they are disease resistant, as certain diseases spread quickly in hot climates. Desert tomatoes flower early so they can be harvested before summer temperatures reach their peak.

Small tomatoes, which ripen sooner, are generally better tomatoes for arid climates. When choosing desert tomatoes, look for hints in the name of the plant, such as with Heat Master or Solar Fire. Not all have heat-related names, but many will let you know they are suitable for hot climates.

Referred to as “heat-set” or “hot-set” tomatoes, many common hybrids are available for hot regions, such as:

BHN 216
Florasette
Florida 91
Heatwave II
Solar Fire
Summer Set
Sunchaser
Sun Leaper
Sunmaster
Sun Pride
Talladega

Other heat tolerant tomatoes include Equinox, Heat Master, Mariachi, and Rapsodie.

If you prefer heirloom varieties, there are many well suited to warmer climates. Among these are:

Arkansas Traveler
Eva Purple Ball
Hazelfield Farm
Homestead 24
Illinois Beauty
Neptune
Ozark Pink
Tropic

Even some of the heirlooms that are typically known to thrive in cooler temps can handle warmer temperatures, such as Stupice. A few of the cherry tomato varieties will also thrive in warmer temps. These include Lollipop and Yellow Pear.

In super-heated climates such as the Desert Southwest, look for tomato varieties that mature at 60-70 days. Start thinking about which varieties you want to grow in January since transplants can be set out as early as February 15. Good choices to grow in these ultra-warm climates are:

Champion
Cherry Sweet 100
Earlygirl
Earliana
Earlypak
Patio
Small Fry
Sunripe

Finding success when growing tomatoes in hot climates simply means finding varieties that are best suited to these extremes. And, of course, providing them with adequate care doesn’t hurt either.

10 Heat-Tolerant Tomato Varieties

Tomato growers in warmer areas, like the Southeastern part of the United States, often choose heat-tolerant tomato varieties for summer and fall production. Growers farther north may want to emulate this strategy too, now that climate change is causing hotter summers in most regions. When growing tomatoes in hot temperatures, you can boost your success rate by planting deeper, where the soil temperatures are cooler, providing afternoon shade, watering in the morning and using thick organic mulch to keep soil cool. Try a few different varieties to find out which tomato performs best in your garden conditions. Save your seeds for next season.

Here is a list of heat-tolerant tomato seeds offered by Sandia Seed Company.

Arkansas Traveler – Prized for its ability to produce flavorful tomatoes under conditions of high heat, humidity or drought. It’s very flavorful, medium-sized tomatoes resist cracking.

Big Beef – A delicious and juicy beefsteak-type tomato, early to bear, and highly disease resistant. Produces reliably in cool and wet weather and also tolerates heat.

Black Krim – Medium 10 oz. maroon fruits with green shoulders have delicious flavor. A great prolific all-around tomato, because it produces early and continues to produce until frost, is heat tolerant and very disease resistant.

Bush Early Girl – Produces good early yields of slicer tomatoes tomatoes with excellent flavor. Good disease resistance, heat tolerant and easy to grow.

Cherokee Purple – Excellent flavor that is extremely sweet and complex. A large 12 oz. heirloom tomato the color of dusky rose and purple. Early tomato and heat tolerant.

Isis Candy – This variety produces little 1-1/2″ red and gold tomatoes. They have a starburst pattern on the blossom end when ripe. This small early producing tomato is heat and drought tolerant.

Super Sioux – Round red 4-6 oz. fruit have an excellent balance of sweet and acid flavor. Notable for its ability to thrive in hot dry climates.

Super Sweet 100 – Cherry-sized fruits are produced in long pendulous clusters right up until frost. It has improved disease fighting ability and is easily to grown on stakes or tall cages. Grows well in all climates including hot and dry areas.

Sweet Million – Produces long chains of smooth, dark red, 1-1/2” crack resistant fruits. Has excellent disease resistance and grows well in hot and dry climates.

Virginia Sweets – A dependable heat tolerant producer of delicious 1 lb yellow-red tomatoes that are resistant to cracking.

There are Some great choices listed above, but don’t limit yourself to just these. A large number of early tomatoes or smaller tomatoes perform well in adverse conditions like high heat. Several tomatoes just take a break from producing in the mid-summer heat and then begin again with a second flush of tomatoes in late summer as the temperatures become cooler. Make sure to plant your tomatoes now to ensure you’ll be eating garden fresh tomatoes this summer!

Which tomatoes grow the best in high temperatures?

Let me preface this answer by saying that due to my experience in 2016 contrasted with my 2015 experience, I personally think soil conditions and composition, kinds of light and light levels, and how you water your tomatoes may have a profound affect on heat-tolerance.

Since the temperature in your area fluctuates so much between day and night, the rules are a little bit different. I know the daytime highs in your area might get well into the hundreds, even for extended periods, but it’s also important to know that the lows can sometimes be so low that it’s actually too cold for many tomatoes to set fruit. For instance, if the temperature drops 35 degrees at night and the daytime high was 89° F., then the low would be 54° F., which may be too cold for many tomatoes (ideal night-time temperatures are supposed to be between 59 to 68° F. or so). Therefore, it stands to reason that not only will heat-tolerant tomatoes be more productive, but that cold-tolerant ones will be, too.

Some tomatoes are said to have both heat and cold tolerance. Here are some varieties:

Heat and cold tolerant tomatoes

  • Aussie
  • Black Cherry
  • Black from Tula
  • Black Prince
  • Celebrity (hybrid)
  • Coldset
  • Cuautli Salubong
  • Djodah
  • Dragon’s Eye
  • Early Girl (hybrid)
  • Fireworks
  • Glacier
  • Kimberly
  • Marmande
  • Notchli
  • Persimmon
  • Pineapple
  • Pink Bumblebee
  • Pink Siberian Tiger (grows well in cool or hot climates according to mariannasheirloomseeds.com)
  • Principe Borghese
  • Pruden’s Purple
  • Punta Banda
  • Purple Bumblebee
  • Siletz
  • Stupice
  • Sun Sugar (hybrid)
  • Taos
  • Yellow Pear

However, it’s important to note that your area is dry. Some tomatoes do better in wet heat than dry heat, and vice versa.

In my own personal experience, the following tomato varieties produce well in the conditions you described:

  • Black plum (sets fruit in both sun and partial shade)
  • Early Girl
  • Galapagos Island (Solanum cheesmaniae)
  • Husky Cherry Red F1
  • Lemon Boy F1
  • Pruden’s Purple
  • Red Pear
  • Roma
  • Yellow Pear

Partially heat-tolerant (in my own experience):

  • Market Wonder (mostly not heat-tolerant, but I got at least one tomato in the heat, and the plants grew very well in heat, drought and poor soil conditions; my seeds came free from wintersown.org)
  • Sugar Lump (got two tomatoes in the heat; plants much prefer cooler conditions; the plants did not grow well in heat, drought and poor soil conditions; my seeds probably came from a dollar store.)
  • Texas Wild Cherry (The plant grew fine in heat, drought, and poor soil conditions, but I wasn’t as impressed as I was led to believe I would be. It didn’t set fruit in as hot of conditions as most heat-tolerant tomatoes, but it did set fruit in hotter conditions than regular tomatoes. My seeds came free from wintersown.org)

It should be noted that people sometimes just get around the problem of summer heat by growing early tomatoes that start producing fruit before it gets very hot.

Another tip is to save your own seeds every year to plant the next. I read that if you get the plants used to your climate for generations, it’s supposed to help improve yields and things. I’m trying it. We’ll see how it goes. Ask me about it in several years.

I’ve also read that grafting can help with the heat tolerance. I assume this means that if you graft a tomato that isn’t heat tolerant onto a heat tolerant one, perhaps the result may be more heat tolerant. If you try it, let us know if it works.

Also, look for all-weather tomatoes, and those that are said to produce all season.

Okay, so I compiled a list of tomatoes that people have claimed have heat tolerance. The level of heat tolerance isn’t specified. So, take this with a grain of salt, and do your own investigation on varieties that perk your interest. My sources include such as customer reviews on varieties at online vendors (such as rareseeds.com) or reviews at gardening websites (such as davesgarden.com), cuke.hort.ncsu.edu, and tomatoes I found via random sites on a search engine, as well as a few varieties I know from personal experience. If a tomato is under one category, that does not necessarily mean it doesn’t belong in the other category, too. It’s possible that some tomatoes on the list that aren’t labeled as hybrids actually are hybrids, too, but most of them should be the sort to breed true. This list is not exhaustive, and I do plan to add to it, in future.

Heat-tolerant tomatoes:

  • Abu Rawan
  • Al-Kuffa
  • APT 403
  • Argentina Cherry
  • Arkansas Marvel
  • Arkansas Traveler
  • Aussie
  • Bali
  • Basrawya
  • Beefsteak (not all strains are heat-tolerant, but some are said to be)
  • Bella Rose (hybrid)
  • BHN 189 (hybrid)
  • BHN 216
  • Big Beef (hybrid)
  • Black Cherry
  • Black from Tula
  • Black Mauri
  • Black Plum (also shade tolerant, during heat)
  • Black Prince
  • Blue Berries
  • Bradley
  • Brandyboy (hybrid)
  • Brandywine OTV (shows more heat-tolerance than regular Brandywine)
  • Brenda
  • Burbank Slicing
  • Burgundy Traveler
  • Burnley Gem
  • Butte
  • Caiman (hybrid)
  • Cal Ace
  • Carmello
  • Celebrity (hybrid)
  • Chadwick Cherry or Camp Joy Tomato (sets fruit in 115° F.)
  • Champion
  • Chef’s Choice Pink (hybrid)
  • Cherokee Purple (it didn’t prosper in dry heat and drought where I live)
  • Chico III
  • Chocolate Pear
  • Ciudad Victoria
  • Coldset
  • Copia (Tigercopia)
  • Costoluto Fiorentino
  • Costoluto Genovese
  • Cour di Bue (oxheart)
  • Creole
  • Cuautli Salubong
  • Cuostralee (or Coustralee)
  • Cyriuss (hybrid)
  • Dad’s Sunset
  • Djodah
  • Earl’s Faux
  • Early Girl (hybrid)
  • Equinox (hybrid)
  • Eva’s Purple Ball
  • Fireworks
  • Flamenco
  • Floradade
  • Florasette
  • Florida (hybrid)
  • Florida 91 (hybrid)
  • Florida Pink
  • Fourth of July (hybrid)
  • Freshmarket 9
  • Galapagos Island (Solanum cheesmaniae)
  • Genuwine (hybrid)
  • German Red Strawberry
  • Gezahnte
  • Giallo de Summer
  • Glacier
  • Glamour
  • Gold Medal
  • Golden Jubilee
  • Golden Marglobe
  • Grandfather Ashlock
  • Great White
  • Green Zebra
  • Grosse Lisse
  • Haley’s Purple Comet
  • Hawaiian Currant
  • Hazelfield Farm
  • Heatmaster (hybrid)
  • Heatwave II (hybrid)
  • Henderson’s Pink Ponderosa
  • Homestead
  • Homestead 24
  • Hotset
  • Hunter
  • Husky Cherry Red (hybrid)
  • Hy Brix (hybrid)
  • Illinois Beauty
  • Kamatis Tagalog
  • Kellogg’s Breakfast
  • Kewalo
  • Kimberly
  • Ladybug (hybrid)
  • Lollipop
  • Louisiana All Season
  • Lucid Gem
  • Manalucie
  • Marianna’s Peace
  • Marion F
  • Marizol Korney
  • Marmande (Beefsteak)
  • Martino’s Roma
  • Marvel Striped
  • McMurray # 10
  • Mely (hybrid)
  • Mexican
  • Mexico Midget Cherry
  • Mighty Red (hybrid)
  • Momotaro
  • Moneymaker
  • Mortgage Lifter
  • Mountain Crest (hybrid)
  • Mountain Glory (hybrid)
  • Mountain Princess
  • Mozark
  • Mule Team
  • Neptune
  • Nichols
  • Nineveh
  • Notchli
  • Omar’s Lebanese
  • Orange Banana
  • Ozark Pink
  • Penny’s Early
  • Penny’s Golden Cherry
  • Persimmon
  • Phoenix
  • PickRipe (hybrid)
  • Pik Rite (hybrid)
  • Pineapple (tolerates heat, cold and drought)
  • Pink Beauty (hybrid)
  • Pink Bumblebee
  • Pink Siberian Tiger (grows well in cool or hot climates according to mariannasheirloomseeds.com)
  • Ponderosa Gold
  • Pork chop
  • Porter
  • Porter’s Dark Cherry (hybrid)
  • Principe Borghese
  • Prize of the Trials
  • Processor 40
  • Processor 278
  • Pruden’s Purple
  • Punta Banda
  • Purple Bumblebee
  • Purple Calabash
  • Quarter Century
  • Red Global
  • Red Pear
  • Red Star
  • Red Star Cherry
  • Reno
  • Road Runner (hybrid)
  • Roma
  • Rouge D’ Irak
  • San Marzano
  • Sanibel (hybrid)
  • Serrat (hybrid)
  • Sioux
  • Skyway 687 (hybrid)
  • Solar Fire (hybrid)
  • Solar Set (hybrid)
  • Southern Nights
  • Spitfire (hybrid)
  • State Fair
  • Stupice (hot and cold weather)
  • Summer Set (hybrid)
  • Sun Chaser
  • Sun Gold (hybrid)
  • Sun Leaper
  • Sun Pride
  • Sun Sugar (hybrid)
  • Sunbeam (hybrid)
  • Sunmaster
  • Super Fantastic (hybrid)
  • Super Sioux
  • Supremo (hybrid)
  • Sweet Orange Cherry
  • Syrian Giant*
  • Talladega
  • Taos
  • Texas Wild Cherry
  • Tlacolula (AKA Tlacolula Ribbed)
  • Tommy Toe
  • Top Gun (hyrbid)
  • Toro (hybrid)
  • Traveler 76
  • Tribute
  • Tropic (hybrid)
  • Tycoon
  • Valencia
  • Viva Italia (hybrid)
  • Wayahead
  • White Tomesol
  • Wild Florida Everglades (Solanum pimpinellifolium)
  • Yellow Pear
  • Yellow Ruffled

Handles dry heat:

  • Black from Tula
  • Black Plum
  • Black Prince
  • Burnley Gem
  • Chadwick Cherry or Camp Joy Tomato (sets fruit in 115° F.)
  • Chocolate Pear
  • Copia (Tigercopia)
  • Earl’s Faux
  • Early Girl (hybrid)
  • Flamenco
  • Galapagos Island (Solanum cheesmaniae)
  • Glamour
  • Gold Medal
  • Husky Cherry Red (hybrid)
  • Mexican
  • Nichols
  • Notchli
  • Penny’s Early
  • Porter’s Dark Cherry (hybrid)
  • Punta Banda
  • Red Pear
  • Roma
  • Super Sioux
  • Yellow Pear

Handles wet heat:

  • Abu Rawan
  • Arkansas Marvel
  • Arkansas Traveler
  • Champion
  • Cherokee Purple (doesn’t handle dry heat well where I live)
  • Cour di Bue (oxheart)
  • Cuostralee (or Coustralee)
  • Creole
  • Dad’s Sunset
  • Floradade
  • Glacier
  • Homestead 24
  • Kewalo
  • Louisiana All Season
  • Manalucie
  • Moneymaker
  • Mortgage Lifter
  • Nineveh
  • Penny’s Early
  • Ponderosa Gold
  • Purple Calabash
  • Solar Fire (hybrid)
  • Tommy Toe
  • White Tomesol
  • Wild Florida Everglades

Tomatoes with disputed heat tolerance

(These tomatoes have been reported to be heat-tolerant, but this claim is disputed.)

  • Beefsteak: Peaceful Valley’s and American Seed’s Beefsteak were not heat-tolerant for me. Other people have reported Beefsteak (from unknown vendor/s) to be heat-tolerant, however.
  • Black Sea Man:
  • Brandywine: Flowers didn’t set fruit until it cooled, in my area. (This needs more testing, since there’s a chance that what I grew wasn’t Brandywine.)
  • Cherokee Purple (potentially disputed; need to test more)
  • Kellogg’s Breakfast: This needs to be tested more to be sure, but from my observations of growing it, I didn’t detect particular heat-tolerance.
  • Martino’s Roma: It’s about as heat tolerant (to dry heat) as Paul Robeson is (maybe a little less), in my experience
  • Paul Robeson: It probably has above-average heat tolerance in dry heat, but in my area the flowers didn’t set viable fruit until it cooled down somewhat, whereas varieties like Black Plum and Pruden’s Purple set quite a while beforehand. However, it did set a lot of fruit when it cooled down (but my plant was grown indoors to a good age before being planted outdoors in the spring). This variety is definitely drought tolerant in containers indoors, however.
  • Pomodoro San Marzano
  • Texas Wild Cherry (potentially disputed, but seems to do well in Texas, from reports)
  • Wild Florida Everglades

Tomatoes that probably have heat tolerance:

  • Basketvee: Coldset, which is heat-tolerant, is in its parentage: (Campbell 1402 x Coldset) x (Coldset x Heinz 1350)
  • Big Sungold Select
  • Chef’s Choice Orange: one parent is Amana Orange, which is heat-tolerant (and the seemingly related Chef’s Choice Pink is heat-tolerant).
  • Cherokee Green
  • Cherokee Lime
  • Green Pear
  • Green Tiger (reported to be prolific in Atlanta, Georgia)
  • Grub’s Mystery Green
  • Heidi
  • Mac Pink: Coldset and Homestead are heat-tolerant and are in its parentage: (unnamed pink selection x Homestead) x Coldset
  • Malakhitovaya Shkatulka
  • Mama Mia
  • McGee (was grown extensively throughout Texas and the southern states for many years, but I suppose it may have been grown for its early qualities rather than its ability to set fruit in heat)
  • Orange Cherry
  • Oroma: part Roma and Santiam (Roma can be heat tolerant)
  • Payette—This tomato was bred in Parma, Idaho, which is within about an hour of the Oregon High Desert; its parentage includes these (at least one of which is heat-tolerant, and at least one is cold-tolerant): L. peruvianum, L. hirsutum, Bison, Stokesdale, Sioux, Bounty
  • Saucy: part Roma and Santiam (Roma can be heat-tolerant)
  • Sweet Ozark Orange (said to produce better than Big Beef in Hutto, Texas; one of its parents is also heat-tolerant)
  • Veebrite: Parentage: [(C1402 x Coldset) x (Coldset x Heinz 1350)1
  • Vision: Parentage: Campbell 1327-D19 x Coldset

Some varieties are parthenocarpic. This means they don’t need pollen to produce fruit. Those might, in theory, do well whether it’s hot or cold. It’s well established that they can do well in the cold, but some people say they don’t necessarily do well in the heat. Here are some:

Parthenocarpic varieties:

(Note: Not all have the same degree or kind of parthenocarpy)

  • Carebeta
  • Early North
  • Farthest North might be parthenocarpic
  • Golden Nugget (probably the same thing as Gold Nugget)
  • IVT-1
  • IVT-2
  • Kyo-akane
  • Kyo-temari
  • Legend
  • Line 75/79
  • Lycopea
  • Montfavet 191 (highly female sterile)
  • Oregon 11
  • Oregon Cherry
  • Oregon Pride
  • Oregon Spring (it should be noted that Siletz is considered an improvement on this)
  • Oregon Star
  • Oregon T5-4
  • Oroma
  • P-26
  • P-31
  • Parteno
  • PI-190256
  • Pobeda
  • PSET 1
  • Rarkuna First
  • Renaissance
  • RP 75/59
  • Santiam
  • Saucey
  • Saucy (probably the same thing as Saucey)
  • Severianin
  • Siletz (it should be noted that Legend is considered an improvement on this, although some people prefer Siletz to Legend)
  • Stock 2524
  • Sub Arctic Plenty

The main parthenocarpic varieties I would recommend looking into are Oroma, Saucey, Siletz, Golden Nugget, Santiam and Legend.

Note that territorialseed.com and victoryseeds.com sell many of these parthenocarpic tomatoes (territorialseed.com also sells other kinds of parthenocarpic seeds, such as the Planet Pepper, and Cavili summer squash).

Cold-tolerant tomatoes:

  • Anna Russian
  • Apollo Improved (hybrid)
  • Aussie
  • Azoychka
  • Basketvee
  • Beaverlodge Slicer
  • Bellstar
  • Better Boy (hybrid)
  • Big Mama (hybrid)
  • Bison
  • Black Cherry
  • Black from Tula
  • Black Prince
  • Bloody Butcher
  • Bosque Blue
  • Brown Sugar
  • Bush Beefsteak
  • Celebrity (hybrid)
  • Coldset
  • Cosmonaut Volkov
  • Cuautli Salubong
  • Djodah
  • Dona (hybrid)
  • Early Cascade (hybrid)
  • Early Girl (hybrid)
  • Galina’s (AKA Galina)
  • Glacier
  • Golden Nugget (hybrid)
  • Gregori’s Altai
  • Grushovka
  • Husky Gold (hybrid)
  • Kimberly
  • Kotlas
  • Legend
  • Lime Green Salad (AKA Green Elf; said to have handled temperatures at least as low as 25° F. by an Illinois reviewer on davesgarden)
  • Manitoba
  • Marmande
  • McGee
  • Mira
  • New Jersey 300
  • New Yorker
  • Nodak
  • Northern Delight
  • Notchli
  • Orange Pixie (hybrid)
  • Oregon Spring (hybrid)
  • Oroma
  • Oxheart
  • Paul Robeson (This isn’t heat tolerant, in my experience so far, though.)
  • Persimmon
  • Pineapple
  • Pink Bumblebee
  • Pink Siberian Tiger (grows well in cool or hot climates according to mariannasheirloomseeds.com)
  • Pink Vogue
  • Polar Baby
  • Polar Beauty
  • Polar Star
  • Prairie Fire
  • Principe Borghese
  • Pruden’s Purple
  • Purple Bumblebee
  • Quick Pick (hybrid)
  • Rouge de Marmande
  • Santa
  • Santa Cruz Kada
  • Sasha’s Altai
  • Siberia
  • Siberian
  • Siletz (hybrid)
  • Silvery Fir Tree
  • Small Wonder
  • Stupice
  • Sub Arctic
  • Sugar Baby
  • Sun Gold (hybrid)
  • Sun Sugar (hybrid)
  • Super Marmande
  • Sweet 100 (hybrid)
  • Sweet Baby Girl (hybrid)
  • Taos
  • True Black Brandywine
  • Veebrite
  • Veecrop
  • Vintage Wine
  • Vision
  • Vivid
  • Wheatley’s Frost Resistant
  • Yellow Pear

Here’s a list of early tomatoes, without regard to temperature tolerance (days to maturity, whether determinate/indeterminate and whether a hybrid are listed in parentheses):

Heat tolerant eggplants:

  • Aswad
  • Black Bumper
  • Black King
  • Orient Express (hybrid)
  • Pingtung Long

Eggplants that probably have some degree of heat tolerance:

  • Bangladeshi Long
  • Banka (said to do well even in poor summer conditions; 105 days)
  • Florida Market
  • Gbogname (plants take heat well, but I don’t know if they produce in hot conditions)
  • Malaysian Dark Red (plants tolerated the heat, but I don’t know if they produced in hot conditions)
  • Turkish Orange (Solanum aethiopicum or Solanum integrifolium, depending on who you ask)
  • Twilight (hybrid)

Cold-tolerant eggplants:

  • Applegreen (70 days)
  • Orient Express (hybrid)

Eggplants that are probably cold-tolerant

  • Malaysian Dark Red (plants tolerated cold, but I don’t know if they produced in colder than normal conditions)

Heat-tolerant tomato variety released by UF

Growing tomatoes in Florida’s hot, humid climate isn’t always easy. Too hot and the fruit won’t set. Too much rainfall and fruit cracks, or the plants develop diseases and lose their leaves.

These problems have been largely solved with the introduction of Solar Fire, a heat-tolerant variety developed by researchers at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

“Solar Fire is our best bet yet for a tomato that can set fruit at warm temperatures,” says Jay Scott, a professor of horticultural sciences at UF’s Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Bradenton. “Most tomatoes that can set fruit at higher temperatures have small fruit, but this one is different. And you can plant this variety earlier in the fall growing season than other varieties.

Solar Fire has medium to large-sized fruit, just above 6 ounces, with an attractive red color and gloss. Each vine bears a lot of fruit, so crop yields are good. It is a firm tomato, an important factor when shipping produce, he adds.

“It’s best when eaten fresh in salads or sandwiches, rather than cooked or canned. I like it on bruschetta with pecans and blue cheese,” Scott says.

Solar Fire is resistant to Races 1, 2 and 3 of Fusarium wilt as well as Verticillium wilt Race 1 and to gray leafspot. It has moderate resistance to fruit soft rot, a bacteria that attacks damp tomatoes after the fruit has been harvested.

“Until now, if you wanted to plant tomatoes in Florida from July through August, you’ve been pretty much out of luck,” says Tony DiMare, vice president of DiMare Ruskin Inc., one of the state’s largest tomato producers. “There are a few varieties such as Florida 91 that can be planted in early fall, but summer heat has always meant the fruit won’t set. We’re glad to see the introduction of a new heat-tolerant variety.”

He said commercial production has become a science, and new varieties come under close scrutiny.

“We check the moisture in the soil and monitor the nutrition we add to the plant,” DiMare said. “We analyze the sap from the petiole of one of the tomatoes in the field for nitrogen and potassium levels to see if we need to add fertilizer. When the fruit is ripe, we check density, color, interior color and texture. We also look for flavor — consumers don’t want tomatoes that taste like cardboard.”

Reggie Brown, director of the Florida Tomato Committee, an industry group based in Orlando, said tomatoes are the most valuable vegetable crop grown in Florida. A winter cash crop in Florida since the 1870s, tomatoes now bring more than $400 million into the state annually.

“We think Solar Fire will extend the tomato season in Florida, and will prove to be a significant addition to the fresh tomato business in the state,” Brown said.

Solar Fire has been licensed for production with Harris-Moran Seed Company in Modesto, Calif. Bruno Libbrecht, product manager for tomatoes for Harris-Moran, said his firm has fields of Solar Fire under cultivation, and seed will be available in late May to early June, 2004.

How to find tomato seeds and plants that will survive Texas weather

Vegetable gardeners dig tomatoes. But sadly, the most sought after and satisfying crop for home gardens can be a bit challenging for newcomers and seasoned green thumbs alike.

Heavy clay soils, ultra-hot and humid summers, diseases, insects and other pests can take a toll. Throw in a season that is unusually dry or perhaps even too wet, and tomato plants won’t cooperate with your best-seeded plans. But, there’s hope!

One way to build resiliency in your produce plot is to focus on picking cultivars that are adapted to some of the harshest conditions. And if you’re starting your plants from seed indoors to get a jump on the growing season and avoid late winter freezes, now’s the time to find a better ‘mater.

Hybrids

Tomatoes are categorized in a few different ways, one dealing with traditional breeding methods such as hybrid or heirloom.

Hybrids (not to be confused with GMOs) have been intentionally bred to have specific traits from each of their “parents.” Hybrid tomatoes often show better-than-average vigor, more uniform production and (perhaps) higher yields. Many have also been bred for resistance to common diseases or pest issues.

You can find these traits, abbreviated in what we’ll call “tomato shorthand,” printed on your seed packet or plant tag. For example, VFN refers to that variety’s resistance to verticillium wilt, fusarium wilt and root-knot nematodes.

‘Box Car Willie’ is an heirloom tomato variety.(Jae S. Lee / Staff Photographer)

Heirlooms

There are also heirloom varieties, which have been passed down from generation to generation because of their superior flavor or adaptability to regional growing conditions.

Heirlooms are also open-pollinated, which means they produce seeds that are genetically true to type, tasting and looking the same as their parents, as long as they are properly isolated from other tomato varieties (at least 30-plus feet apart). However, if these heirloom plants are not isolated to deter cross-pollination, then the saved seeds would result in a hybrid, tasting and looking slightly different than last year’s crop. For some of the best heirlooms, try ‘Black Krim,’ ‘San Marzano,’ ‘Cherokee Purple,’ ‘Green Zebra’ and ‘Lucid Gem.’

Many home gardeners are very passionate, siding strongly on either the heirloom or hybrid side of the (garden) fence. I say to plant what works best for you, or better yet, just try some of both and see what you prefer.

A big, vine-ripened heirloom tomato is hard to beat when warmed by the summer sun. But then again, if you’ve ever fought diseases, birds or squirrels in the garden, it’s nice to have a few prolific hybrid producers as well. And any home-grown tomato has more appeal than anything you can buy grown out of state and shipped hundreds of miles.

Horticulturalist Daniel Cunningham shows tomato seeds.(Jae S. Lee / Staff Photographer)

Tomato talk

There are also a few other ways we distinguish tomatoes, and a better understanding of this “tomato talk” just might help you pick the right varieties to grow in your garden this year.

Determinate: Also called bush tomatoes, these plants stay more compact and produce all of their fruit in a one- to two-week period. These varieties often produce an early crop, don’t need a lot of staking or support, and are great for container gardening. Try ‘Early Girl,’ ‘Roma’ and ‘Black Sea Man.’

Indeterminate: These plants can get pretty big, vining up to 10 feet, requiring support to keep them off the ground. They also have the ability to be prolific long-term producers, continuing to produce fruit spring into summer and even through fall until they’re killed by frost. Try ‘Sweet 100,’ ‘Sun Gold,’ ‘Yellow Pear’ and ‘Juliet.’

Most every tomato you buy will have a “days to harvest” of somewhere between 55 and 90 days. Because we typically have a short growing season in between the average last frost (mid- to late March) until we see summer-like blistering heat, it’s best to plant varieties that will produce fruit before it gets hot. Another way to avoid both the lingering frost and the impending damaging heat is to get early season tomato seeds started indoors in a sunny window (or under a grow light) six to eight weeks before you plan on transplanting them outside.

Most tomatoes produce best at temperatures between 65 degrees and 90 degrees F. In North Texas, on hot, humid days above 92 degrees, many tomato flowers will start to drop without producing any fruit. Some hybrids and heirlooms are better adapted at producing fruit when temperatures reach 95 degrees to 97 degrees. Try ‘Solar Fire,’ ‘Solar Set,’ ‘Sun Fire,’ or heirlooms ‘Tommy Toe,’ ‘Texas Wild’ and ‘Creole.’

Daniel Cunningham is a horticulturalist from Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension.

The essentials for starting tomato seeds indoors(Jae S. Lee / Staff Photographer)

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