ITHACA — A new high-flavor, shelf-stable grape tomato is the latest variety released from Cornell University aimed at small farmers, organic growers and home gardeners.
Moonshadow, a deeply pigmented purplish-red, oblong tomato, was bred using traditional crossing methods and derived from a cross between a black grape tomato and a high-flavor orange grape tomato. It is the sixth variety in the Galaxy Suite, a colorful, multi-shaped group of medley grape tomatoes bred by Phillip Griffiths, associate professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell AgriTech.
“There’s increasing consumer interest in foods that are unique, aesthetically pleasing and colorful,” Mr. Griffiths said in a Cornell news release. “Farmers markets have been expanding considerably, and consumers who shop at these markets want both local produce and products not typically available in supermarkets. The market for small-fruited, single-bite medley types is increasing, and it has huge potential going forward.”
Even in the small-fruited market classes, growers generally favor bigger tomatoes that are easier and faster to harvest and package, Mr. Griffiths said. Meanwhile, consumers seem to prefer one-bite cherry tomatoes; however, many cherries have issues with fruit skin splitting on the vine or after harvest. Mr. Griffiths wanted to find a happy medium: small-fruited, high-flavor tomatoes, as consumers prefer, with better shelf-stability and after-harvest quality.