Performance of Thirteen Homeowner Tomato Varieties in the Summer of 2007

James E. Boudreaux, Schmit, Rene G., Sistrunk, Myrl W., Yount, Jr., David, Crnko, G. Stephen, Wilkerson, II, Hubert A.  |  7/30/2007 11:08:54 PM

Big Beef



Tomatoes are the most popular home garden vegetables grown in Louisiana. Homeowners are looking for tomato varieties that are dependable producers of large tomatoes that taste good.


This test was designed to evaluate 13 tomato varieties for home garden production. The cost of the seed for this test was covered by the Louisiana Master Gardeners’ Association.   


The different tomato varieties were planted during March at several locations across the state, (Timmy Perrilloux Farms in Montz, La., Bobby Ainsworth’s Farms in Forrest, La., and Ed Lester’s Farms in Coushatta, La.). 


The same varieties were planted in mid-April at Burden Center in Baton Rouge, La. The late planting in April was designed to expose the fruit to the rainy and high-temperature conditions of late June and July.  It was felt that if varieties performed well at this time, then they would perform even better under the good growing conditions of spring.


The tomatoes were allowed to remain on the vine until color was showing on the second cluster. This provided fully vine-ripe tomatoes on the first cluster and breaker tomatoes on the second cluster for evaluation. The tomatoes were evaluated for maturity, yield, size, color, shape, size of stem scar, size of bloom scar, fruit cracking, firmness, plant size, condition of foliage, taste, core length and internal color. The results of the evaluation are presented in a table in the attached file. 


The top variety in the test was Big Beef.  It is a mid-season tomato with good yield of medium and large fruit. The fruit had only fair-to-good color because of the presence of green shoulders. Stem and blossom scars were small. Fruit firmness was only fair; however, few cracks were seen on the fruit. The plant size was large with good foliage. It had a good-plus taste with a small core and good internal color. The major attributes of Big Beef is the medium- and large-size fruit and a good-plus taste.


Ultrasonic was the second variety in the test. It is a medium-early variety with good yields of medium-size fruit. The fruit color was good. No green shoulders were seen on this variety. It had a good smooth shape with small stem and bloom scars. The fruit had good firmness with few fruit cracks. The plant was medium to large in size with good foliage. The fruit had a good-fair mild taste with a small core and good-fair internal color. Some white streaks appeared in the meat of the tomato. Good fruit color, good smooth fruit shape, good firmness and few cracked fruit help make this variety number two in the test.


Ball’s Beefsteak and First Prize were tied for third place. 

Beefsteak is a mid-season tomato with good yields of medium-size fruit.  The fruit color was only rated fair to good because of the occurrence of green shoulders. The fruit had a good shape, with a medium-to-large stem scar but a small bloom scar. The fruit had fair-to-good firmness with some cracks observed on the fruit. The plant was large with good foliage. The fruit had a good taste, small core and good internal color. The good fruit shape, good taste, small core and good internal color were the main attributes of this variety.


First Prize is a medium-maturity tomato variety with good yields of medium- and large-size fruit. The fruit color was rated good-to-fair because of green shoulders. The fruit shape was good-to-fair with a medium stem scar and small bloom scar. It has fair-to-good firmness with some cracks seen on the fruit. The plant was large with good foliage. The fruit had a good, mild taste with a small core and good internal color. The medium- and large-size fruit with a good, mild taste, small core and good internal color helped this variety tie for third.


A field tour was held at the Burden Center in July to highlight the Homeowner Tomato Variety Test. A taste test of the top four varieties and two standard (Celebrity and Better Boy) varieties was conducted. Thirty-two individuals participated in the taste test. The varieties were ranked best taste, second-best taste and third-best taste. The top variety was given 3 points, the second given 2 points and the third given 1 point. The total number of points was used to determine the best-tasting tomato variety.

The results of the taste test conducted at the Burden Field day appear below:



Taste Test Points

Taste Test Rank

Big Beef






Ball’s Beefsteak



First Prize



Better Boy







Celebrity was selected the best-tasting tomato by the participants on the taste test with Ultrasonic placing second and Better Boy ranked third.


Home gardeners are encouraged to try these varieties in their gardeners. Home gardeners need to ask businesses that grow tomato plants in their area to make arrangements to grow these varieties for next year.

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