Sakata Seed is continuously working on developing new vegetable varieties with improved eating experience for the consumer while including extended shelf life. In addition, the breeding process focuses on improved labor efficiency and increased productivity for growers. Recently, an exciting new range of tomato varieties have been introduced and Tyler Hoopes, Protected Culture Specialist with Sakata Seed America, discusses what each of the varieties has in store.
“We have developed several new varieties for greenhouse culture,” he shared. “When developing and trialing new varieties the key elements we look at for high-tech and mid-tech varieties are high flavor, high production, and low labor. Unique colors, shape, and fruit size consistency are important criteria as well.”
These varieties have all been trialed in many different parts of the globe. “Versatility of each variety in our breeding program is very important. It is crucial to understand each variety and how they perform in different environments,” Hoopes said. He kicks off discussing the company’s new greenhouse grown snacking tomato varieties that include Crimson Star, Scarlet Star, Chocostar, Royalstar, and Lemonstar. The traits of each of these varieties are slightly different, providing both growers and consumers a choice.
Medley of Crimson Star, Chocostar, Royalstar, Lemonstar, and Fonzi’s Pinky.
Crimson Star and Scarlet Star - Red Grape / Mini plum
Crimson Star and Scarlet Star are red grape varieties bred for high-tech greenhouses and geared toward premium flavor and low labor for loose harvesting. “Instead of lengthy fishbone clusters, these 10-12g tomatoes have genetics aligned with short multi-splitting clusters,” Hoopes commented. “This maintains a compact harvest zone that will increase labor efficiency, while flavor and yield potential have increased compared to check varieties.”
These two premium flavor varieties score top marks for flavor. “Considering distinguishing attributes, Crimson Star has very early maturity, excellent flavor at the start of the cycle, high brix and exceptional juice content, as well as an attractive dark red color with high gloss,” Hoopes indicated. “Scarlet Star’s excellent flavor is slightly more acidic, and this variety has a firm texture, great crunch, and a uniform shape.”
From a production perspective, Crimson Star starts early, has a more open plant habit, and is well suited for production under artificial light. Scarlet Star compliments Crimson Star with high performance during the summer and early autumn production cycle. At the end of the season, yield potential is similar between both varieties. Scarlet Star is a great choice for later sowings with long cycles. “When both red grape varieties are pruned and managed appropriately, they should maintain high flavor and size throughout the season. In addition, they will save labor by reducing the harvest zone due to compact short clusters.” In terms of grafting, Crimson Star and Scarlet Star show best performance using high-vigor rootstock varieties and both show great promise for high-tech growers on the global front.
Crimson Star on the left and to the right are Scarlet Star tomatoes.
Chocostar - Brown Grape / Mini Plum
Chocostar is a brown grape variety with a burgundy wine color that has both loose and on-the-vine potential. It has a plum shape rather than elongated. “Its well-balanced juice content, high brix, sweet taste, and thin skin make for a variety you just want to keep eating,” said Hoopes. “Apart from top-notch flavor, this variety shows strong production performance and low labor as internodes are compact, allowing crop management to be focused on labor reduction. This variety outperforms benchmarks in terms of yield and flavor.”
Royalstar - Orange TOV Cherry / Cluster
Royalstar is an orange cherry variety with a rich deep orange color, high brix, and high tolerance to cracking. “It is a perfect performer due to its attractive color, nice fishbone shape cluster, and strong dark green plant.” The plant model is versatile but also ideal for growing under artificial light: compact plant with short leaves, strong vigor in combination with generative plant habit. This versatile variety works for on-the-vine harvesting as well as loose pick. “With its flavor and excellent fruit quality, it is bred for cluster harvesting for premium fruit packs.”
Sakata's Royalstar variety.
Lemonstar – Lemon Yellow Grape / Mini Plum
Lemonstar is a unique yellow grape variety with a vibrant lemon-yellow color and high brix. “This snacking tomato has outstanding flavor that has proven itself in its array of balanced acidity and sugar levels. Relating to the eating experience, this variety has a crunchy texture complimenting its superior taste. We continue to see Lemonstar excel in taste panels with Wageningen University. It has also demonstrated high production and cracking tolerance compared with check varieties amongst growers globally.”
New Lemonstar variety.
“As exciting new introductions, Crimson Star and Scarlet Star, growers are really excited about the high marketable yield potential, while retailers and marketers appreciate the premium flavor and improved shelf life. Top performers like Chocostar, Royalstar and Lemonstar (pictured right) are excellent choices for specialized single or medley / mixed packs. These new introductions for the high-tech markets complement our current portfolio and provide valuable new options for our discerning customers.” Hoopes said.