Evaluation and characterization of different tomato varieties in organic market gardening
In organic farming (OF), the tomato is one of the major crops cultivated under tunnels. There are hundreds of varieties of tomatoes around the world, not all of which are compatible with our climate or suited to our diet. Since 2010, the BIODIMESTICA (*) project has aimed to study and characterize, among others, several varieties of Belgian or foreign tomatoes that are adapted to our growing conditions.
Since the research programme began, over 750 vieties of tomatoes have been studied with a view to bringing to light those with good resistance to disease, consistent, early production and favourable organoleptic properties.
During a first phase, the varieties were studied in greenhouses. We have 100 m2 of tunnel greenhouses. The following characteristics were studied: entry into production, yield and taste quality, with specific criteria such as: firmness, juiciness, bitterness, sweetness, acidity, thickness of skin, fragrance, and a more subjective rating that constitutes an overall assessment, all graded on a scale of 1 (low) to 9 (high).
The most promising varieties selected in this way then underwent an outdoor trial, to study their resistance to disease without treatment. The CRA-W has developed a tomato umbrella system, which works very well. This system is easy to set up and often gives better results than a greenhouse-grown crop.
After several years of research, we can report the first findings. Six types of tomatoes can be distinguished according to weight: currant (5 to 9 g), cherry (10 to 19 g), cocktail (20 to 29 g), small classic (30 to 59 g), medium classic (60 to 149 g) and large classic (≥ 150 g). Data sheets have been created for each variety, to characterize them according to resistance to disease, early ripening, yield, use, and organoleptic qualities. The data sheets are available free of charge on the CRA-W website.
The varieties selected in the trial are already on the market in a variety of shapes, colours and uses, depending on their characteristics. In parallel with this trial, an extensive effort of evaluation and characterization of collectible varieties was launched, with a view to identifying our varieties of the future. For the most promising varieties, we are carrying out studies on resistance to disease.