Cultivar Choice and Quality of Tomatoes

Abstract: BACKGROUND: Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum L.) are widely consumed and well known for their health benefits, many of which have been associated with the high levels of antioxidants present in tomatoes. With a growing interest in local and organic foods, it would be helpful to determine whether farmers could naturally improve the quality and antioxidant content of tomatoes for sale in local markets. This study evaluated antioxidant properties, quality attributes, and yield for 10 tomato cultivars grown for 2 years using certified organic and conventional practices. RESULTS: Cultivar and year effects impacted (P < 0.05) all tests conducted, while growing method influenced (P < 0.05) yield, soluble solids content, ascorbic acid, and antioxidant radical scavenging capacity. Even when accounting for year-to-year variability, cultivars in the highest groups had 1.35- to 1.67-fold higher antioxidant levels than cultivars in the lowest groups. 'New Girl', 'Jet Star', 'Fantastic', and 'First Lady' were always in the highest groups, while 'Roma' and 'Early Girl' consistently had the lowest antioxidant content. CONCLUSION: Compared to production practices and environmental effects of years that are generally beyond the control of small-scale producers, choice of cultivar provides the simplest and most effective means of increasing antioxidant properties. Knowledge of tomato cultivars with naturally higher antioxidant levels could assist smaller-scale producers to grow fruit that may provide a competitive advantage and the opportunity to capitalize on the increasing popularity of locally grown, high-quality fresh produce. (C) 2010 Society of Chemical Industry

Reference: Aldrich, H.T., et. al. (2010). Cultivar choice provides options for local production of organic and conventionally produced tomatoes with higher quality and antioxidant content. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 90(15): 2548-2555. Available online at: