Sep 8, 2017WVU announces the names of two new tomato varieties
From a pool of more than 100 submissions, there was not just one, but two names, that rose to the top of the list for the new tomato varieties created by West Virginia University (WVU) researchers Mannon Gallegly and Mahfuz Rahman in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design.
“Though we initially considered the idea of releasing only one variety, it became apparent to me that both varieties were very good – each in their own way,” said Gallegly, emeritus professor of plant pathology and creator of the popular West Virginia ’63 Tomato. “Also, the more I thought about it, the more I recognized the value in keeping with the tradition of honoring our state and recognizing the year in which it was released, just as we did with the West Virginia ’63.“There will be others who follow in my and Mahfuz’s footsteps, creating their own tomatoes, so by indicating the year of release within each name helps scientists like us keep them all straight.”
Gallegly and Rahman also see the value of incorporating the two most popular names submitted by the public.
“It’s hard to believe we received 114 submissions,” said Rahman, associate professor of plant pathology and WVU Extension specialist. “I’m grateful people see the value of these developments and are interested in engaging in the process in a fun and creative way.”
Of the entries submitted, the names (or some rendition of these names) “Mountaineer Pride” and “Mountaineer Delight” were the most duplicated entries.
And fortunately, both names are reminiscent of each respective variety.
“The West Virginia ’17A (Mountaineer Pride) is a firmer tomato, with a thicker cell wall, and better suited for commercial use since it’s easier to ship,” Gallegly said.
“The West Virginia ’17B (Mountaineer Delight) is more suited for home gardeners,” he continued. “It’s sweeter than the ’17A – and even sweeter than the ’63 tomato – and is more of a beefsteak tomato, with a beautiful internal color.”
Both tomatoes are resistant to late blight, as well as Septoria lycopersici, a fungus that causes a destructive disease commonly referred to as Septoria leaf spot.
In terms of next steps, Gallegly and Rahman will deposit the seeds to the USDA Plant Germplasm Preservation Research Unit. The PGPRU develops strategies and technologies to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of plant genebanks, while conserving genetic diversity of plant populations, as well as genes and specific genotypes in the form of seeds, plant cuttings, pollen, etc.
“We will need to identify some seed companies that will carry these for longer term,” Rahman said. “But in the meantime, we are more than happy to share the limited supply of seeds we currently have, making them available to West Virginians – and many of our friends throughout the country – just as we’ve done in the past.”
– Nickky Luna, West Virginia University
Photo above: Mahfuz Rahman and Mannon Gallegly holding the new tomato varieties at the Davis College’s 150th anniversary Welcome Back BBQ, held August 31. Photo: Caroline Nicholas