Six candidate varieties are being trialed at Vineland. With time-lapse photography, the tomatoes’ four-month production cycle can be viewed in under two minutes.
Research scientist Travis Banks is overseeing the program to improve flavour and production traits. He hopes to have a new on-the-vine tomato hybrid to market by 2022. That might seem like a long time from now. But the six candidates have to be narrowed to one, based on a whole range of factors from shape and size, to disease resistance.
The process is described in Vineland’s 2018-19 Innovation Report. The current six varieties will be narrowed to three by the end of the 2018 growing season, then down to two by 2019. The Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG) are partners in the process. They’ve helped identify growers who would trial the top hybrids to evaluate their performance. By 2020, Banks anticipates that three years of OGVG growing data will point to a clear winner.
Then there are the tomato seeds that need to be produced and marketed to farmers so they can start growing the juicy red tomatoes, already taste-tested by consumers, by fall of 2021.