By Adam Russell
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Communication Specialist
Ruby crush, a determinate grape tomato variety with a long-standing reputation for performance and taste, has been named the newest Texas Superstar plant. Larry Stein, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service horticulturist and Texas Superstar executive board member, Uvalde, said the variety has performed exceptionally well in field trials under less-than-ideal growing conditions around the state. Stein said the variety has been a top-performing tomato plant in field trials over the past several years, despite it being a grape variety. Ruby Crush has also performed well in taste tests over the years, including at the San Antonio Rodeo, where it was named the 2021 Rodeo Tomato. “It’s been extremely consistent since day one,” he said. “It performs even where fields or planting conditions are poor. Other varieties don’t do that year upon year.”
To be designated a Texas Superstar, a plant must perform well for growers throughout the state. Texas Superstars must also be easy to propagate, ensuring the plants are widely available and reasonably priced.
Ruby Crush is a truly determinate plant that can reach three to four feet tall, Stein said. The plants are perennial but are grown as an annual in Texas due to the cold. They perform best in gardens when grown in a cage, but are also ideal for containers. Ruby Crush can spill over the top of a four-foot cage when caged and adequately fertilized, Stein said. The compact plants produce trusses of tomatoes, which can be 1.5 inches wide by 1.25 inches long and weigh half an ounce, roughly the weight of a AAA battery. The plant is highly resistant to several fungal diseases, including fusarium crown and wilt; root rot and tomato mosaic virus 0-2. Plants show medium resistance to gray leaf spot.
It is best to plant Ruby Crush tomato plants in the spring but they also can be planted in mid-summer for fall harvests. Stein said white flies are problematic and can hinder production later in the growing season. Fruit matures early, often 60 days from transplanting, Stein said. The tomatoes are scarlet red, oblong and weigh about half an ounce, with a flavorful sweet taste. Tomatoes do continue to ripen after being picked and are typically harvested when they start to “break” or change color. “They really do produce nice clusters of grape-shaped tomatoes,” he said. “You don’t necessarily have to pick the whole cluster if they don’t ripen all at once.”
Ruby Crush requires full sun for optimal fruit production and tolerates any soil that drains well, Stein said. Stein said Ruby Crush have produced under various field conditions under sub-optimal treatments, such as poor soil and no fertilizer. But, he said, plants perform and produce fruit best when side-dressed with slow-release fertilizers.
“They do load up with fruit when properly fertilized,” he said. “Ruby Crush performs better than other varieties under less-than-ideal conditions, but it can be really spectacular with fertilization and in a cage.” The red tomato is listed on most nutritional lists as a superfood. It is packed with the antioxidant vitamins A and C, potassium and the B vitamins for heart health, and above all a powerful carotenoid called lycopene.
Texas Superstar is a registered trademark owned by Texas A&M AgriLife Research. Plants are designated by the Texas Superstar executive board, which comprises nine horticulturists from AgriLife Research, AgriLife Extension and Texas Tech University in Lubbock.
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