The Best Tomato Plants in Georgia
Most of Georgia lies in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 6 and 7. Plants can be started indoors four to seven weeks before transplanting. Set them outside from mid-March to early May after frost danger has passed, the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension notes. Southern areas of the state can produce a second crop starting in late July. Use recommended varieties to ensure best yields, resistance to disease and hardiness.
Growers who want tomatoes that reach a set height and produce their fruit over a set harvest period can plant determinate tomatoes. The best ones for Georgia, according to the state’s cooperative extension service, are Celebrity, one of the most readily available hybrids at garden centers, as well as Mountain Fresh, Mountain Spring and Mountain Pride, developed as part of the “Mountain Series” by North Carolina State University’s seed program at the Mountain Research and Extension Center in Fletcher, North Carolina. Bush Early Girl, BHN 444, BHN 640, Amelia and Rutgers, a solid favorite since 1934 out of New Jersey, make the “best” list, too.
Georgia gardeners who want vines to continue to grow and produce until frost should try Early Girl, Better Boy, Big Beef, Big Boy or Beefmaster plants, the extension service recommends.
Juicy, soft, irregular looking heirlooms provide better flavor than hybrids but are less suitable for shipping long distances, making them most suitable for home gardens. GardenWeb heirloom hobbyists in Georgia list heirlooms popular in much of rest of the United States, including Cherokee Purple, Brandywine and Mortgage Lifter, as strong performers for the Peach State as well. Georgia Streak, a yellow and red tomato, also produces good results, as well as Arkansas Traveler, Aunt Gertie’s Gold, Creole, Pink Ping Pong, Lahman’s Pink, Green Grape, Marianna's Peace, Mule Team and Kelloggs Breakfast.
The University of Georgia recommends Jolly Hybrid, Sweet Baby Girl and Super Sweet 100 for growers who want cherry tomatoes, and Juliet, a solid performer in many areas of the country, as the best grape tomato.
The top globe tomatoes for commercial growers in Georgia, according to the state’s extension service, are Amelia, BHN 444, BHN 640, Carolina Gold, Crista, Florida, Mountain Crest and Mountain Spring. Cherry Grand and Mountain Belle win top mention for cherry tomatoes. Paste tomatoes, used for canning, sauces and salads, that received a thumbs-up from state horticulturalists include BHN 685, Plum Crimson, Plum Daddy and Puebla.