| Material Information
||Development of fresh market tomato varieties for mechanization in Florida
||Bradenton AREC Mimeo report
||2 leaves : ; 28 cm.
||Crill, Pat, 1939-
Burgis, D. S ( Donald Stafford ), 1913-
Agricultural Research & Education Center (Bradenton, Fla.)
||Agricultural Research & Education Center
||Place of Publication:
||Tomatoes -- Varieties -- Florida ( lcsh )
||government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent) ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
||Statement of Responsibility:
||Pat Crill and D.S. Burgis.
||"September 20, 1972."
||Florida Historical Agriculture and Rural Life
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Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
- '- 2.
AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH & EDUCATION CENTER
-7 e Bradenton, Florida
Bradenton AREC Mimeo Report GC-1972-8 September 20, 1972
DEVELOPMENT OF FRESH IIARKET TOMATO VARIETIES FOR
MECHANIZATION IN FLORIDA PSE 2 ,8 .'0
Pat Crill and D. S. Burgis C.l:.T f0HF.
The release of 'Florida MH-1' provided Florida tomato growers the first oppor-
tunity to initiate complete mechanization of the production of fresh market tomatoes.
Development of such a variety was considered necessary if the tomato industry of
Florida were to survive. The importation of tomatoes from Mexico into the U.S. has
increased steadily for the last few years while production in Florida has contin-
uously declined. The reason for the steady decline in the Florida industry has
been increased production in Mexico with cheap labor. To combat the importation
of tomatoes from other countries it is necessary for Florida growers to produce
a higher quality fruit and do it more economically. The variety 'FLORIDA MH-1'
was the first step in this direction.
Some of the characters of 'Florida MH-1' which Florida growers can take ad-
vantage of to compete more successfully are discussed below:
a) 'Florida MH-1' is a variety which can be grown with the minimum amount of
field labor. It can be mechanically transplanted, plug mix seeded or field
seeded. It is not necessary to prune 'Florida MH-1' and it can be grown
quite successfully using full bed mulch, strip mulch or conventional prac-
tices. It is suitable for both hand and mechanical harvest.
b) 'Florida HII-l' has more inherent disease resistance than any other variety
available. This reduces the amount of chemical pesticide necessary for
c) 'Florida i'H-l' is earlier maturing than any other variety available for
use in Florida. This means a shorter growing season with fewer sprayings
for insect and disease control, more precise control over harvest dates
and timirg of harvest and will help result in development of more accurate
planting and harvesting schedules.
d) 'Florida :H1-1' is the best quality tomato presently available to the con-
sumer as measured by 1) actual consumer preference tests in supermarkets,
2) taste panel observations and 3) reactions of packing house managers,
wholeralo buyers and repackers. A most outstanding quality attribute is
the excellent red color of the interior as well as a highly appealing
exterior appearance combined with acceptable taste and flavor.
e) 'Florida iHH-1' is well adapted to the high speed procedures used to move
fruit from the farm to the consumer. This is due in part to the thick
walls and firmness of the fruit which results in considerably less waste
with more of the fruit being marketable. This in turn results in a higher
quality fruit on the supermarket shelf with more consumer appeal.
f) 'Florida IMH-1' responds better than any previous variety to ethylene gas-
sing which is another production technique pioneered by Florida tomato
growers to allow for the placement of a higher quality tomato on the super-
market ehelf. It is not possible to harvest and ship vine ripe tomatoes
without incurring exorbitant costs which puts the cost of winter tomatoes
out of reason for the average American consumer. By harvesting fruit that
are mature, but not yet showing color, costs are reduced since these fruit
will withstand the rigors of bulk-handling, packing, shipping and distribu-
tion to northern terminal markets. Fruit from all tomato varieties does
not react favorably with ethylene gassing. 'Florida MH-l' is highly adapt-
able to gassing and when picked mature, but prior to the development of red
pigment in the outer walls, and gassed with ethylene is a superior quality
In addition to the specific superior attributes of 'Florida MH-1' described
above, numerous other characters are necessary in the ultimate machine harvestable
fresh market tomato variety for Florida. These include 1) a concentrated fruit set
which is dependent upon all flowers on a plant blooming, setting fruit, and maturing
all fruit for harvest simultaneously, 2) uniformity of all plants in the field with
respect to emergence, growth, flowering, fruit set, maturity, and plant size, 3)
separation of fruit from the vine so that the fruit do not have a stem, 4) resis-
tance to the major tomato diseases which can be considered as limiting factors in
crop production, and 5) improved longevity of fruit in transit, in storage and on
the supermarket shelf. All of these factors are of importance to all groups asso-
ciated with the fresh-market tomato industry including the grower, the packing
house manager, the wholesale buyer, the repacker, the supermarket produce buyer,
the individual supermarket produce manager and the consumer. They are important
because they are the components of yield as well as the components of quality.
A high yield of poor quality fruit is of no value to the grower as he has no market,
a low yield of high quality is no value because he doesn't have enough volume to pay
the costs, but with a high yield of high quality fruit everyone benefits.
At the present time over 2500 breeding lines are evaluated by the University
of Florida, Agricultural Research and Education Center-Bradenton annually. Over
fifty percent of these lines have potential for machine harvest in Florida, and one
of them will probably become a future variety. At the present time the criteria
used in selection of a variety are all unproven and untried. This is because there
is no commercial machine harvesting being done, therefore many of the problems are
unknown because they have not been experienced. The primary factor being utilized
as a selection tool is maximum yield of marketable fruit from a single destructive
harvest with the minimum cost input.
'Florida MH-1' has a few defects as far as being the ultimate variety for machine
harvest. First is the lack of a completely concentrated frui: set. It is not pos-
sible to harvest all the fruit with a single harvest. As varieties are developed
with a more concentrated fruit set for machine harvest new rirks of crop production
will occur. If the weather conditions at time of flowering are adverse for fruit
set then the crop could be a failure because of no fruit set at all or those fruit
whichh did set could be all catfaces due to poor pollination. This is a built-in
rick factor with concentrated fruit set varieties. Also, if .ll fruit are set at
once then they will all be ready to harvest at once. This cold result in a "glut"
,.f the market which is highly undesirable. To overcome this, scheduling of harvests
i1'.1 have to be developed, probably by packing house managers in cooperation with the
growers. The means of scheduling harvests are still to be investigated.
'Florida I1H-1' also exhibits some plant to plant variation as do all inbred lines
when compared with F1 hybrids. Any variety which is to be considered for machine
harvest must of necessity be extremely uniform in order to obtain maximum yields.
Emphasis at the present time is on developing varieties with the plant and fruit
characters of 'Florida MH-1' but with more uniformity and a more concentrated fruit
set. It is anticipated that fresh market tomato varieties better adapted for machine
harvest will be available by the time Florida growers decide to mechenize their har-