Are Big Beef Tomatoes Determinate or Indeterminate?

Are Big Beef Tomatoes Determinate or Indeterminate?
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Are Big Beef Tomatoes Determinate or Indeterminate?

How You'll Use Tomatoes Will Guide Which Type You Choose to Grow

There is nothing that says summer like harvesting tomatoes in the backyard and eating them with almost every meal. Big Beef tomatoes are a favorite of gardeners for many reasons. Big Beef is a super reliable tomato, and due to its indeterminate nature, it sets large fruits throughout the summer, right up until frost sets in. 

In this article, we will look more closely at the Big Beef tomato and what it means for a tomato to be determinate or indeterminate. 

What Is the Difference Between Determinate and Indeterminate?

By their nature, tomatoes are vining plants that would naturally sprawl along the ground. Due to being bred for size and flavor, they have become somewhat dependent on help from us humans to keep them healthy while they grow. This is why we provide them with the support of tomato cages or stakes — or, in some cases, hang the plants so that the vines can hang down. 

A tomato plant is called determinate when the fruit tends to stop setting and come ripe in a short window of about two weeks. Determinate tomato plants are sometimes referred to as “bush tomatoes” because of their tendency to grow shorter vines and to stop vining once the fruit has set. Determinate tomato varieties are wonderful if you are planning to can the fruit or make sauce, or have some other project in mind that requires a large haul of tomatoes all at once. 

If you are interested in having fresh tomatoes available all through the growing season, then you want to look for a variety that is labeled as indeterminate. Indeterminate tomatoes, such as the Whopper tomato will continue to vine and set fruit through the season and many will continue right up until first frost.

Sometimes simply called “vining tomatoes,” these types of varieties will provide you with tasty tomatoes for salads and sandwiches all summer long, but they may frustrate you if you are trying to make a big batch of sauce or tomato juice so check your seed descriptions closely. 

History of the Big Beef Tomato

Home gardeners loved the Beefsteak tomato but struggled with successful growing due to its tendency to succumb to common tomato diseases. Colen Wyatt, who was a prolific vegetable breeder in the late 20th century, created the Big Beef which went on to become a winner of the All America Selection Award in 1994.

Big Beef is a hybrid, which means it is the result of cross-pollinating other varieties together until the desired characteristics are combined. Cross-pollination happens in nature, which is how new varieties of plants occur and evolve. 

Wyatt managed to keep the old-fashioned flavor, while creating a hybrid that set fruit earlier in the season and will continue to set fruit even in cooler weather while resisting verticillium, fusarium race 1 and 2, stemphylium, tobacco mosaic virus, root-knot nematodes and Alternaria stem canker diseases.