Friday, November 22, 2013

Tomato Patch: Three grafted Burpee varieties

Burpee grafted Brandywine Pink tomatoes

In March I wrote about my purchase of three grafted tomato plants (Brandywine Pink, Mortgage Lifter, and Rutgers) from Burpee

They were expensive—more than $10 each, including shipping—but how could I resist trying the tomato fad of 2013—grafted plants with heirloom tops and disease-resistant roots that reportedly could give superior yields.

The three transplants arrived nicely and securely in a plastic clamshell package in the week I had requested for delivery.  I planted them according to directions—on pain of death, don’t plant the graft joint below soil level—and watched the three plants grow and produce.

Have I been I impressed?  Not really.

If you grew grafted tomatoes this last summer—Burpee or other brand—please post a Comment about your experience.

Were they each worth the better part of $11?  No. The plants grew well, but their production was ordinary or less.

Burpee grafted Rutgers tomatoes
Brandywine Pink produced only six tomatoes of medium to small size—fewer and smaller than Brandywines I’ve been growing for years from seed—but they were mouthwatering delicious as a Brandywine should be.

Rutgers produced a dozen or so mostly baseball-sized fruit with good flavor.  I haven’t grown any of the Rutgers varieties, so I cannot compare to past crops.

The best of the three was Mortgage Lifter, which yielded about 10 medium to large fruit with outstanding “true, old-time tomato flavor,” better tasting than even Brandywine Pink, at least to my tastebuds.

For me the grafts were an interesting “trial” but the results were disappointing.  I feel I could have grown equivalent fruit from seed, or even from plants bought at a local nursery, at a fraction of the cost.

Grafts again next year?  I think I’ll stick with seed packets, thank you.

If you grew grafted tomatoes this past summer—Burpee or another brand—please post a Comment about your experience.

Burpee grafted Mortgage Lifter tomatoes

1 comment:

  1. I agree with your assessment Bob. I grew a Cherokee Purple and found the yields disappointing. My guess is that most of the grafts are made to rootstock that is resistant to Verticillium Wilt, Root Knot Nematodes, Tobacco Mosaic Virus, and Fusarium Wilt. Since I, like you grow plants in sterile growing medium, these problems have no been introduced into my garden. Also, I rotate my tomatoes into different locations year, which is always a good practice.

    Raising tomatoes or other vegetable plants from seed is easy. If you are interested in a brief primer, go to the University of Maryland's Grow It Eat It website and search for seed starting.