On the evening of August 20th Hudson Valley farmers gathered with vegetable specialists at the Farm Hub for an evening centered around tomatoes being grown as part of a variety trial. Coordinated by Teresa Rusinek of Cornell University Cooperative Extension’s Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program, the trial is part of an ongoing breeding program to develop tomato lines with resistance to three destructive plant diseases: late blight, early blight, and septoria leaf spot.
The breeding program, conducted by Martha Mutschler at Cornell University, released its first variety, “Iron Lady,” in 2013. This variety is currently the only commercially available tomato with resistance to all three diseases. Now, ten new lines are being developed by Mutschler with a continued focus on fruit quality and consumer appeal. The availability of new tomato varieties will help New York farmers avoid yield loss from disease and allow them to meet market demand.
Guest speakers Teresa Rusinek and Meg McGrath of Cornell University led participants on a tour of the tomato plants and a discussion of disease resistance. A critical component of this type of field trial is receiving feedback from farmers on the different varieties during process. Which varieties would you be most likely to grow? What do you like/dislike about the variety? Which varieties are most likely to meet market/consumer demands? These and other questions were posed to visiting farmers, and their comments will be incorporated into the trial analysis.
Click here for a photo gallery of the August 20th meeting.
Click here for information on our next twilight meeting: Root Crops Variety Trail, September 29th at 4:00pm.