Valerio Primomo grasps a cluster of five red tomatoes in his hand. It took nine years — and hundreds of tomato trials — to get here. But he thinks he's perfected it.
"We're almost there," said Primomo, a vegetable breeder at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre. "With breeding, there's always room for improvement."
Primomo has spent nearly a decade trying to develop tomatoes for Ontario greenhouses. The initial request came from the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers, who were looking for a better tomato variety that suited Ontario's tastes while able to adapt to the province's varied weather. Many of the current varieties come from the Netherlands.
Primomo has landed on three unnamed varieties — scrawled on a napkin as 53H, 13H and 10H — that he thinks can do just that.
The idea for a new type of tomato came from growers. Primomo said they want varieties that are better adapted to the Ontario climate. In testings, he said, these tomatoes have had yields between five to 18 per cent more than the Dutch varieties currently being used.
"That's huge for a tomato producer. They're happy with only a one [or] two per cent increase."