Most Productive Heirloom Tomato You've Grown


We actually conducted a trial last year with 10 different paste/sauce varieties. All in raised beds, 7-8 hours of sun, 6’ trellises, and a constant supply of water via ollas. It was not a perfect growing year because of the overly wet weather, and we had space for only one plant of each variety.

Here’s the total harvestable weight we measured per plant in order from best to worst: Mortgage Lifter VFN - 11.5 lbs, Blue Beech - 10.8 lbs, Amish Paste - 9.8 lbs, Dester - 9.1 lbs, San Marzano Redorta - 8.3 lbs, Opalka - 6.6 lbs, Rocky - 6.1 lbs, Long Tom - 5.1 lbs, Federle - 2.5 lbs, San Marzano 2 - not much.

Mortgage Lifter VFN, Amish Paste and Dester were very productive early. The other varieties hit peak production about two weeks later. We’re going to trial the top five again this year but I think Mortgage Lifter VFN and Amish Paste have the inside track with their early production. Blue Beech produced very high quality tomatoes which may keep it around as well. Dester was productive but the tomatoes tend to crack quite a bit.

As far as cherry tomatoes go, Mexico Midget has been the most productive and best tasting. Sweetie was our go to for years and productive as well, but we would lose a much higher percentage to splitting.


My most productive tomatoes have been Russian Queen, Blue Pear, and Big Cheef. Russian Queen is the most productive tomato I have grown out of 40+ varieties. The latter two though have particularly good taste! Big Cheef is like an improved Cherokee Purple.

I have 10+ new varieties growing this year and hopefully I can report back on having another tomato producing machine!


How were you pruning them on your trellises? Single stem?


The trellises are actually vertical 50” wide cattle panels. Two plants per 50”w x 72”h section, with multiple stems per plant confined to about 25” of space, and branches weaved throughout the grid.


A variety that puts out a ridiculous amount of fruit. While larger than a common cherry tomato, it’s still no slicer so it’s a good thing you’ll swim in them.


I am making a list of some of all the member suggestions . . . to try next year. This is a great topic. Thanks.

What a great name for a tomato! And glad to hear that it tastes terrific. I have a very small vegetable garden - and won’t waste the space on anything that doesn’t taste great. Thanks.

I’m with you . . . I doubt I’ll have the same results as these others. When we lived in Louisville, we grew the BEST DAMN TOMATOES I’ve ever tasted. The soil was red - and the tomatoes had great flavor. That region has the best soil for a tasty tomato!
Here in VA . . . so so. And I never get the bumper crop I hope for.
The tomatoes I buy in Costco taste better, some years! . . . But it’s still fun to grow my own.


One of those interesting things to know about tomatoes is that they really benefit from being grown in fertile red clay soil. Piennolo del Vesuvio is an Italian storage tomato that can hang for up to 9 months in a basement or cellar. If I grow it in my normal garden area, it is relatively bland, but if I grow it in a small area of red clay soil behind my house, the flavor goes up to top ten range. Tomatoes also benefit from having a large amount of compost in the soil. What do I mean by a “large” amount? About 20 pounds per plant is what a large indeterminate tomato plant can use.

Several years ago, I had access to a rabbit barn to bring loads of manure and spread on my garden. I unloaded a trailer with about 2 cubic yards at the end of my garden. A cherry tomato plant volunteered in the edge of the manure and proceeded to spread across the top of the pile rooting everywhere it touched the manure. It spread and sprawled crawling on top of my cabbage, on top of a row of peas, and started to cover up my sweet corn. I could stand in the middle of it and could not be seen because the vines had gotten so tall. There was a bird nest in one of the branches. I finally got fed up with it and used my tractor and chisel plow to pull it out by the roots. It left a layer of cherry tomatoes 2 inches deep and about 25 feet across on the ground. It took several years before the volunteer plants quit growing in that area.

The most productive tomato I have ever grown was a numbered line from Randy Gardner at NCSU. He crossed one of his disease resistant tomatoes with a selection I sent him of an F4 cross between Big Beef and Eva Purple Ball. When I grew the plants in my garden with no special care other than what the rest of my plants receive, I picked over 80 pounds of tomatoes per plant. This is a 5 gallon bucket of tomatoes piled up as high as you can get and still carry by the handle twice. Two buckets of tomatoes from a single plant is a LOT of tomatoes. Do I have any open pollinated varieties with similar production? The only candidate is the BBXEPB cross that I sent Randy. It is phenomenally productive and tends to make phenomenally productive hybrids.


I second that . . .


I agree about Russian Queen, very prolific, pretty Roma type striped fruit, and one of the biggest plants I’ve ever grown, almost 7ft tall a couple years. Wanted to try it again this year, but chose mostly beefsteak types.

Re Cherokee Purple, I like the flavor, but it’s been a stingy producer for me. Tried it for three years, and because of that trait, it gets tossed from the rotation.