How to Choose the Right Tomato

How to Choose the Right Tomato

At Johnny's, we meticulously research, develop, and select our tomato line to help ensure your tomato-growing success each and every year. To make it easier for you to choose the right varieties for your growing needs, here are the 3 main questions for you to ask :

  1. What vegetative growth habit best suits your needs?

    Indeterminate (tall and viney) OR determinate (bushy)
  2. Where will you grow your tomatoes?

    Outdoors OR indoors/in a protected setting
  3. Which fruit characteristics are of greatest importance to you?

    Flavor, color, texture, yield, etc.

Below you will find a short explanation for how to answer each of the above questions, followed by a Table of the Main Tomato Types.

Three Ways to Choose the Right Tomato

Here are the 3 key factors to consider, when choosing which tomato varieties to grow.

#1Choose by Vegetative Growth Habit

The prime consideration when choosing a tomato variety is its vegetative growth habit. There are two main types:

Indeterminate, or vining types, continue to grow new leaves, shoots, and flowers for an indefinite time period (until frost or some other factor causes them to die).

  • Indeterminate growth habit requires more elaborate trellising methods to support the larger plants, and more labor to sucker and prune throughout the growing season.
  • As a direct result of indeterminates' higher ratio of leaves-to-fruit-clusters ( > 3:1), they tend to have better flavor than determinate (bush) types ( < 2:1).

Determinate, or bush-type tomatoes, grow to a certain size, then divert their major energy stores away from vegetative growth, toward fruit-ripening.

  • Better ratio of labor-to-production potential. Determinate types are easier to contain because vegetative growth is less sprawling and concentrated into a shorter time period.
  • Fruits of determinate tomatoes ripen over a limited period of time, allowing for one or two main harvests.

#2 Choose by Where You Grow Your Tomatoes

The next consideration is where your plants will be grown — outside in the field or within an enclosed environment, such as a greenhouse or hoophouse.

  • If you are growing tomatoes within any type of structure, it is worthwhile to choose from varieties bred specifically for that purpose. The warmth and humidity that promote rapid plant growth in a heated greenhouse can also be favorable to fungi, bacteria, and other plant pathogens.
  • If you are growing in the field, you will want to choose varieties that are resistant to the disease pressures known to affect tomatoes to your area.
  • While browsing Johnny's tomato varieties, check for symbols that designate growth habit and other key information. Be sure to review the information on the product page for disease resistance, germination guides, cultivation and harvesting information, processing notes, and other useful features.

Choose by Fruit Characteristics

Helpful Rules of Thumb
  • Color: Yellow and orange tomatoes tend to be less acidic and milder-tasting than red and pink tomatoes.
  • Texture: Some people prefer the pulpier texture more closely associated with heirloom tomatoes, while others seek the firm texture commonly associated with greenhouse and determinate types.
  • Yield: Because yield is paramount to most growers, Johnny's evaluates the marketable versus unmarketable yields of varieties in our tomato line to determine the best overall combination of yield, flavor, and texture.

The one thing everyone desires most in a tomato — flavor — seems to be the quality most lacking in the standard American grocery-store tomato.

That explains why the perfect home-grown or marketstand tomato is a prized commodity. But because preferences in tomato flavor, texture, and color are highly subjective, pleasing every palate and meeting the aesthetic ideals of every customer can pose a significant challenge.

Here at Johnny's, we trial hundreds of tomato varieties each year — placing a premium on flavor while scrutinizing a host of additional factors that play into tomato perfection: days to maturity, appearance, habit, size, vigor, disease resistance, yield, cracking, blemishes, shelf life, and so many more.

Our complex selection process is expressly designed to make your tomato choices and growing easier and more successful. Whatever your tomato growing aspirations, we hope you find this proves effective for you.

Tomato Types for Every Customer

With over a dozen different categories and scores of varieties to choose from, you can enjoy old favorites and reliable performers, as well as explore new types that hold potential for your unique needs. Choose by color, shape, growing method, and more….