By Vanessa Richins
There’s a magical time in late winter when the new seed catalogs arrive.
As you peruse the glossy pages looking for tomatoes to grow, you may notice some abbreviations throughout the descriptions.
Just what are they trying to tell you?
The most common abbreviation you will see is VFN, or a combination of those letters. A plant with these designations has been shown to be resistant to some very common tomato problems.
V stands for Verticillium Wilt, a fungal disease that causes wilting and leads to poor quality fruit, if the plant survives. Another fungal disease is Fusarium Wilt, our F, producing similar results. Root-knot nematode resistance is signified by N. Root-knot nematodes are microscopic roundworms that attack the roots and decreasing nutrient and water uptake.
Most hybrids will have some form of resistance to these three. If you are planting heirloom tomatoes, which usually do not have much resistance, be sure to plant them in areas where there have been no known problems.
Other abbreviations you may run into:
- T means resistance to Tobacco Mosaic Virus
- A is resistance to Alternaria/Crown Wilt
- L is resistant to leaf spot (Septoria)
- St refers to Stemphylium, which causes grey leaf spot
- D, or Det and I, or Ind – D stands for determinate. These plants will grow to a certain size only and produce all of the fruit at once.
- Indeterminate, or I, are plants that are more vine-like, and continuously grow and produce fruit throughout the season.
- OP – this stands for Open Pollinated. These are the varieties that will remain true to type year after year. If you are wanting to save seeds, these are the ones you want to look for.
- F1 – these are your first generation hybrid plants. You will not get true seeds from these plants.
There may be more abbreviations specific to each catalog. Enjoy picking out the best tomatoes for you!