Plant Hardy Texas Tomatoes
Texas Extension Service offers new tomato plants at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo during February.
Buy a tomato plant at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo this month.
SAN ANTONIO — A rose is not just a rose and a tomato is not just a tomato, considering the time and effort put into selecting the ‘rodeo’ tomato for the annual San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, says a Texas AgriLife Extension Service horticulturist.
"Traditionally, we offer a new tomato plant for sale every year during the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo,” says David Rodriguez, AgriLife Extension agent for horticulture, Bexar County. “Sales of those plants by our Master Gardeners help fund our Junior Master Gardener program and other countywide youth gardening activities, along with horticulture scholarships."
Rodeo tomato plants will be for sale throughout the run of the show, Feb. 9-26, at the Master Gardener booth in the Buckaroos on the Ranch: A Truly Texas Experience pavilion. The facility, formerly called the Texas Experience pavilion, is near Freeman Coliseum on the west side of the show grounds.
Rodriguez says last year experts from AgriLife Extension and volunteers from the agency's Bexar County Master Gardener association and the Garden Volunteers of South Texas, planted more than 4,500 tomato plants at Verstuyft Farms in south Bexar County.
“The BHN 602 variety was selected as this year’s rodeo tomato due to its superior production and quality characteristics,” he says. “It is a well-adapted plant that produces a large, rich, red, firm, succulent fruit.”
This year, the group planted mainly varieties which were expected to produce the large, round fruit indicative of fresh-market tomatoes, says Dr. Larry Stein, AgriLife Extension horticulturist at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Uvalde who oversaw the trials.
“Some of these varieties included SunStart, Sunshine, Bella Rosa, Applause and BHN 602 varieties,” Stein says. “They also planted some ‘grape-determinant’ varieties which produce a significantly smaller tomato.”
These annual tomato plantings are part of a research field trial to determine new adaptive tomato varieties that will grow well in this region, Rodriguez says. The rodeo tomato was selected from the various tomatoes tested and assessed during these trials.
“We’ve been working with AgriLife Extension on tomato trials for about 30 years,” says Tom Verstuyft, an owner-grower at Verstuyft Farms, which is located near Von Ormy. “We’ve been seeking the best tomatoes in terms of color, firmness, meatiness, sweetness and overall taste.”