When it comes to growing tomatoes, disease can be a significant challenge. One way to minimise this issue is by selecting disease-resistant varieties. These tomatoes have been bred to withstand some of the most common diseases. I haven’t had any problems in recent years with my tomatoes, but I did have a problem with tomato blight about 5 years ago; admittedly, I didn’t buy disease-resistant seeds at the time.
Here’s a guide to some of the best disease-resistant varieties to consider for your garden.
Understanding Disease Resistance
Before delving into the specifics, it’s worth understanding what disease resistance means. In horticulture, a plant is considered ‘disease-resistant’ if it can restrict the activities of a specific pathogen or pest and thus prevent the disease’s progression.
While resistance doesn’t mean total immunity, it can significantly reduce the impact of diseases and often ensures healthier, more productive plants.
Best Disease-Resistant Tomato Varieties
1. ‘Iron Lady’
Iron Lady is the first tomato variety with triple resistance to early blight, late blight, and septoria leaf spot – three of the most common tomato diseases. It is a determinate variety producing medium-sized fruits, perfect for salads and sauces.
2. ‘Defiant PhR’
Defiant PhR is another champion in disease resistance. This variety is known for its high resistance to late blight. It’s a determinate type that produces medium to large, deep red fruits with excellent flavour.
Stellar tomatoes are determinate plants bred to be highly resistant to early blight. They produce a good yield of medium-sized, round red fruits. This variety is an excellent choice for those dealing with persistent early blight issues.
4. ‘Mountain Magic’
Mountain Magic is an indeterminate tomato variety that strongly resists early blight, late blight, and cracking. This variety is particularly loved for its productive nature, yielding many sweet, round fruits throughout the season.
Legend is an early-bearing, semi-determinate variety that is highly resistant to late blight. It produces large, flavourful fruits that are great for slicing and eating fresh. As a bonus, it also does well in cooler climates.
Jasper is a vigorous, indeterminate variety resistant to late blight and fusarium wilt. It produces small, cherry-type fruits but does so in high numbers, providing an abundant yield.
7. ‘Chef’s Choice Orange’
A favourite among gardeners and chefs, this variety has good disease resistance, particularly to tobacco mosaic virus and anthracnose. Chef’s Choice Orange is indeterminate and produces large, beefsteak-like fruits with a sweet, citrusy flavour.
8. ‘Crimson Crush’ (best blight resistant tomatoes in UK)
The Crimson Crush F1 tomato is a groundbreaking accomplishment in the realm of plant breeding, borne out of a collaborative effort between Simon Crawford, a renowned plant breeder, and James Stroud, a PhD scientist at Bangor University. Their shared vision, which began in 2006, was to develop a tomato variety with an immunity to the devastating blight disease. After years of research and experimentation, their dedication culminated in the creation of the Crimson Crush F1. This variety exhibits almost complete resistance to all strains of blight prevalent in the UK. Thanks to Crawford and Stroud’s efforts, UK gardeners now have the luxury of growing medium-sized, flavourful tomatoes even in wet conditions where blight used to thrive. Their work has redefined the landscape of tomato cultivation in regions previously plagued by this disease.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Your Variety
While disease resistance is an important factor, there are other aspects to consider when choosing your tomato variety. Think about your climate, the space available, and your preferences regarding fruit size, colour, and taste.
In the end, growing disease-resistant varieties can be a great strategy to ensure a successful harvest. However, remember that no variety is resistant to all diseases, and good gardening practices are still crucial to keeping your plants healthy and thriving.
Brian Sheridan has an allotment in Edgbaston and is a competitive grower. Brian is also a keen photographer and loves cooking. Brian and his wife Mary will also be running a stall at Edgebaston artisan market this year, selling products made from the allotment, including his award-winning relish!