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Make Some Smart Choices for a Successful Winter Harvest

August 05, 1995|JULIE BAWDEN DAVIS

To have luck growing tomatoes in winter in Orange County, it's important to choose the right variety. Most tomato plants that do well in the cooler months produce small fruit. Cherry tomatoes are the easiest to grow in winter.

If you are growing the plants in the ground, it's best to choose types that are hybrid and disease-resistant.

The following are selections for cold-weather growing from Steve Kawaratani at Laguna Nursery and Linda Sapp at Tomato Growers Supply Co.

* Big Beef VFFNTA Hybrid: one of the few big tomatoes that grows in cooler weather; prolific and disease-resistant.

* Big Early: another big tomato that produces quickly; very bright red.

* Celebrity VFFNTA Hybrid: highly disease-resistant and very productive; produces 7- to 8-ounce firm fruit.

* Champion VFNT Hybrid: usually grown as a sandwich tomato because it's solid and meaty; produces a lot of large fruit.

* Early Cascade VF Hybrid: produces abundant clusters of bright red, medium-sized fruit.

* Early Girl VFF Improved Hybrid: produces medium-sized fruit very quickly. This version is more disease-resistant than Early Girl, which may also be grown in winter.

* Early Pick VF Hybrid: Medium-sized, meaty tomato easily sets fruit.

* Oregon Spring V: This is a cold-tolerant tomato developed by Oregon State University for short-season gardeners. Compact plants produce medium to large fruit that is practically seedless.

* Patio FA Hybrid: true dwarf plant specifically hybridized for containers. Small to medium-sized fruit.

* Pilgrim VFFA Hybrid: produces medium-large fruit on compact, vigorous plants.

* Pixie VF Hybrid: cherry tomato that will produce small fruit quickly. Often used in hanging baskets.

* Stupice: This is from Czechoslovakia and is very cold-tolerant. It produces 1- to 2-ounce sweet tomatoes.

* Sun Gold Hybrid: bright orange cherry tomatoes that taste sweet and fruity. Tall plants are vigorous growers.

* Super Chief VF Hybrid: developed at South Dakota State University; produces eight-ounce, bright red fruit very quickly.

* Sweet 100 Hybrid: very sweet cherry tomato; does well in containers.

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