UF horticulture scientist Dr. Harry Klee was featured in Slate magazine this week for his work on the Garden Gem, a new variety of tomato with the great flavor of an heirloom tomato but made for commercial production.
The Garden Gem is the culmination of 20 years work by Dr. Klee, including growing and testing 400 varieties and collecting data from more than 500 sensory panelists. In 2011, he crossed the variety Fla. 8059, a commercial powerhouse, and the delicious Maglia Rosa, the heirloom tomato rated best tasting by sensory panelists. This new variety had flavor that was almost identical to the Maglia Rosa, but it also had qualities that are advantageous in large-scale production, like disease resistance, excellent shelf life, and productivity.
Anyone who’s ever bit into a bland, watery tomato knows that flavor isn’t high priority for tomato producers. Tomato varieties that produce great tasting fruit are often passed over by growers in favor of varieties that produce large, durable and easy to harvest fruit.
So it would it would seem the Garden Gem is the answer to everyone’s prayers, as it provides great taste for consumers and high productivity for growers, right? Wrong.
Check out the Slate article to find out why: http://www.slate.com/articles/life/food/2015/07/garden_gem_tomato_why_harry_klee_s_perfect_cultivar_isn_t_sold_in_supermarkets.html