Parts of the country that experience hot, dry summers are ideal for growing tomatoes, provided the temperature doesn’t often go above 90 or 95 degrees F. In very hot desert regions, such as parts of Southern California, Arizona and Texas, sustained high heat can cook your tomatoes right on the vine, so even if you grow a heat-loving variety of tomato, consider providing some afternoon shade with a frame made of shade cloth.
The University of Florida developed the Solar Set tomato for areas that experience both arid and humid, hot weather. This F-1 hybrid produces large, red, 9 oz. tomatoes that can tolerate temperatures into the 90s. Because this tomato is a first-generation hybrid, its seeds will not reproduce the same tomatoes you grew last summer, so you must purchase fresh seeds every year. Other advantages of this tomato include its resistance to wilt diseases that often affect tomatoes.
California’s Central Valley is one of the nation’s largest tomato-growing regions. With its long, hot, dry summers, this crop is big business and many home gardeners take advantage of the conducive conditions. The Redwood Barn Nursery in Davis, near Sacramento, recommends the Roma variety as a tomato that does well because of its low juice content and thin skin. It calls this variety a “real workhorse.” It usually produces large numbers of tomatoes on compact plants. Roma tomatoes are typically used for sauce.
This variety of tomato produces medium-sized plants and a reliable harvest of 8 oz. fruit that are said to be well suited to slicing for sandwiches, salads and hamburgers. Park Seed Company touts the Celebrity tomato plant because of its compact size and “fantastic” disease resistance. The fruit is uniform in size, resists cracking and is bright red in color. Expect tomatoes within 70 days of transplanting young plants to the garden.
The Champion tomato produces the largest tomato that grows well in hot, dry climates, according to Redwood Barn Nursery. Tomato Growers Supply Company claims that this tomato was bred as a sandwich tomato to have “solid, meaty slices” with some sweetness. Plants are determinate, meaning they remain compact. It begins to fruit earlier than some other tomato varieties and is said to be a productive, “outstanding performer.”