Favorite Hybrid?...(wince!)...or simply your thoughts on hybrids.

ladonMarch 29, 2012

OK...don't judge me...I've been growing only heirlooms for the past 12 years. I love them and I'm not thinking about switching to hybids, despite the relative ease of growing, care and disease resistance. But every year I try some experiments, just for giggles. I recently tried some 'big beef' hybrid tomatoes from the local farmer's market and was surprised that they were actually really good. So I thought, maybe this year I'll try a hybrid or 2 in my otherwise pristinely heirloom garden....LOL. What have been your favorite hybrids in terms of production and taste? What are your thoughts about 'big beef'? What are your thoughts about hybrids in general?



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Over the years my attitude has changed about the hybrid versus heirloom argument. Where I'm at now is that I believe each has their strengths and their weaknesses and each has a place in someone's garden.

The key difference as far as I'm concerned is that you can save your own seed for open-pollinated and heirloom tomatoes, if you grow hybrids you will have to continue buying your seed. If you don't save seeds, I guess this is a moot point.

Typically, heirlooms and other open-pollinated varieties were saved because they had a special merit about them that people liked - usually this revolved around taste, but not always. Hybrids on the other hand got a reputation of being bred primarily for production and disease resistance, but this also is not always the case.

Long story short, there are some very hearty heirlooms out there that are disease resistant and productive and vice versa there very tasty hybrids out there. You just need to do a little research and some trial and error and you'll eventually find something that will do well that you will enjoy growing.

As far as 'big beef', I've always heard good things. It's rarely described as the best tasting tomato, but it's productive, hearty, and you don't have to be the best to be damn good. If it does well for you, and tastes good, I wouldn't care what label it carried, I'd just grow it.

P.S. - One additional thought: Any homegrown tomato I've ever eaten, hybrid or heirloom, has always been better than what's on the shelves at the grocery stores.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 2:49PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

I love Big Beef. It is one of my main tomatoes in my high tunnel. However, when the heat sets in switch over to Florida 91. It is bred to set in the heat. It does a good job of it too. They taste pretty good, when allowed to ripen on the vine.

For an heirloom, I like Cherokee Purple. It looks different. I quickly learned that most people (at my markets) don't see or taste any difference with hybrid red and heirloom red tomatoes. SO, what is the benefit of growing an heirloom with less production? That is why I have stuck with good tasting, more predictable hybrids.

Here is a picture of some Florida 91's at our first Winter market in December.


    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 3:26PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Lots of good hybrids out there and many of them have been around for years so are well proven. Unfortunately there are also many "flash-in-the-pan" hybrids too that never live up to all their hype.

I grow both hybrids and open-pollinated varieties and like homegardenpa said above, both have their place. They aren't mutually exclusive unless you are heavily into seed saving.

Brandy Boy is one that is often mentioned here and a personal favorite. I also like Glory, Jet Star, Jetsetter and Supersonic. And of course there is always Rutgers, a long-stabilized hybrid.

Here are some links to previous discussions of this question with lots of opinions/recommendations.

Your favorite hybrid

Best tasting red hybrid


    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 4:35PM
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We've had excellent success with Better Boy. Hybrids have their pluses. Here's a page that outlines the pros and cons for both hybrids and heirlooms.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hybrids vs. Heirlooms - What's the Difference?

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 5:49PM
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I love the taste of heirloom tomatoes but I like to have a reliable crop of tomatoes for my salsa; I grow Big Beef every year.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 2:05AM
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